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HWDSB COVID-19 Updates – June 2021

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HWDSB COVID-19 Updates – June 2021


It was with disappointment but understanding that HWDSB received confirmation today from the Ontario Government that remote learning will continue for the rest of the year, except for students learning in-person with pervasive special education needs

In this edition, families can read about:

Keep up-to-date on the latest COVID updates, now in our new format. Tell us what you think by emailing [email protected]​​

Chair’s Message

This past week has been challenging without clear direction from the province on whether schools would return before the end of the year. Whichever perspective you held on this, we have received confirmation that physical schools will not reopen, except for in-person learning for students with pervasive special education needs.

Some of you may be pleased with this provincial decision, others may have hoped for a different outcome. At HWDSB, we were ready to welcome students in June, but we accept this direction and will plan for a safe return to school in September.   

Parents and caregivers should reach out to their schools if their children are struggling and can also access supports through our We Help resources.   

As we look ahead this month, Trustees will approve the 2021-22 Budget. We recently received COVID funding from the Ministry of Education. We are looking at options to spend up to 1 per cent of our operational budget from reserves to lower elementary class sizes for the 2021-22 school year to promote distancing and learning recovery.   

With respect to the Ministry of Education’s permanent online learning proposal, we will continue to share our concerns. Our recent letter to the Minister of Education expressed our position on a permanent online proposal.   

Over the final weeks in June, we will continue to engage students and support learning in our remote environments. Graduations will continue to be a focus as indicated by the province. We are looking closely at the Ministry of Education’s direction on graduation, following public health measures. We look forward to celebrating this milestone with and for our students.   

We will also review any opportunity to bring some closure to the school year, including picking up personal items and return of Board resources.   

On a final note, we encourage everyone who can to get their vaccine. Our way out of the pandemic is near and we thank everyone for being so accommodating during this incredibly difficult school year. 

Dawn Danko
Chair of the Board

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Director’s Message

As our Chair has mentioned, HWDSB accepts the difficult news today about students not returning to in-person learning in June, while looking forward to seeing more students in person in 2021-22.  


I have said before in this space how important it is to continue our work on equity, especially during a pandemic that has especially impacted marginalized groups.  I have also stated publicly at the Board Meeting on May 31 of this week, how greatly concerned I am that the curriculum has not been released and the impact that will have on our staff to prepare and plan for such an important new course.  

Our 2021-22 annual plan aims to improve reading and graduation measures with a focus on closing the gaps for students historically underserved in education, including Indigenous, Black, Racialized, Two-Spirit and LGBTQIA+, and students requiring special education supports/services.  

De-streaming is an important equity measure that seeks to ensure pathways decisions for students are personalized and based on students’ interests and aspirations. De-streaming ends the practice of “streaming” that places some students into pathways or programs based on potential bias or perceptions of their ability.  

We will de-stream Grade 9 math this fall, which will involve a culture shift to dismantle systemic discrimination, as well as staff capacity building so we can support student achievement and well-being. In this, we will engage students, families, communities and staff, as we look forward to receiving the new Grade 9 Math Ontario Curriculum.  

Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI)  

In the days ahead, HWDSB will conduct its well-being survey the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI) to hear directly from students in grades 4 to 12 about their experiences and well-being during COVID-19.  

In such a challenging year, it is important to collect data to show the impact the pandemic has had on youth well-being and perceptions. Families will soon receive more information about the MDI, which will be shared through email.  

We want to use MDI to measure well-being during this critical and historic time. We will use the MDI results to inform programs, supports and services for children and youth that foster healthy development and healing from the COVID-19 pandemic.  

We expect that knowing more about how our students are doing will help us as we prepare for the next school year. 

Manny Figueiredo
Director of Education

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Public Health Measures

Youth Vaccination

As you may know, youth in Hamilton aged 12 and up can book an appointment to receive a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Youth must be 12 years of age by the date of their appointment. 

If your child has a green Ontario photo health card, book their vaccine appointment through the Province online at ontario.ca/bookvaccine or by phone at 1-888-999-6488. 

To book an appointment online, these individuals must already be 12 years old as of the date of their booking. If your child is 11 but will be 12 when clinics are running, call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line to make an appointment. 

If your child does not have a green Ontario photo health card, book their vaccine appointment through Hamilton Public Health Services: By phone: (905) 974-9848, option 7. 

More information will be released shortly regarding specialized family-friendly vaccination clinics in Hamilton for youth who may have complex needs. We understand that these clinics will occur during the weeks of June 14 and June 21, with plans for a second dose in August before school returns. 

Supporting your child to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is an important step in the fight against this disease. It will be a key factor in helping our school community return to a sense of normalcy and will benefit overall physical and mental health for children, youth and their families. The COVID-19 vaccination is voluntary. 

You can choose to accompany your child/teen to get their vaccination, but you are not required to attend. If you have questions about the vaccine, you and your child are also encouraged to talk to your health care provider. Please also check online resources including: 

Continued Public Health Measures

As we have throughout the pandemic, HWDSB continues its partnership and close working relationship with Hamilton Public Health Services.  This has been a great collaboration to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 through a variety of enhanced public health measures.

Examples of continued health measures include daily active screening for all staff and students who are participating in face-to-face learning. Vigilance is important, even as case counts decline in Ontario. 

Because most students are learning remotely, our communication of positive cases has changed. We now only communicate positive cases of staff and students who are participating face to face. You see these listed on our COVID-19 dashboard. 

Asymptomatic Testing

HWDSB, in partnership with Hamilton Public Health Services, continues to support voluntary testing of asymptomatic students and staff in Hamilton. Based on guidance of the local health authority, testing will take place at select schools in our district.  

As of May 28, we have held 21 clinics for the voluntary asymptomatic testing of staff, students and their families, including on-site childcare programs from across HWDSB. This has involved 1,696 tests, with just eight positive cases.  

Asymptomatic testing will make it easier to track and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools. It may also inform public health decisions and help to manage outbreaks. In some situations, additional testing will be offered outside of the scheduled clinics. 

With today’s announcement that we will continue remote learning for the remainder of the year, we are reviewing our plan for asymptomatic testing. More information will be posted on our asymptomatic testing website when future clinics in HWDSB are announced.   

Supports for Students

At this challenging time, we want students and families to know that mental health and well-being supports are available this summer for individuals, groups and in workshops. All are free of cost, and are listed on our website. 

Individual supports can include consultation, assessment, intervention and support in accessing other Board services such as student/parent groups as well as community services; and may include a child or youth’s parents/caregivers and/or community service providers. 

All services are provided by registered mental health professionals. Services may be provided in person and/or virtually, via MS Teams depending on Public Health requirements.  

Examples of individual supports include help in areas such as mental health, anxiety or low mood, school avoidance and non-attendance, stress, systemic oppression and more. 

Groups are available for parents/guardians/caregivers, for example, in the areas of Two Spirit and LGBTQIA+ children and youth, helping youth cope with COVID-19, supporting youth with anxiety and depression, and more.  

Examples of workshops for parents/guardians/caregivers include emotion coaching, creating a mentally healthy home, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, low mood and more. 

To learn more or register, please call (905) 527-5092 ext. 2308, email [email protected], text 905-963-0066 (standard rates apply) or use the HWDSB Helps app for iOS and Android. To stay up to date on mental health and well-being programs this summer, subscribe to our mailing list by emailing [email protected]  with the subject line: MH mailing list. 

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Learning at HWDSB

Device Return  

Students will continue to use Board-issued devices for their remote learning until the week of June 28. A process will be shared in a future communication regarding return of devices to home schools.

Elementary Transitions  

Prior to the Ministerial direction to move to full remote learning, HWDSB was planning on a third and final opportunity for families to transition between the Elementary Remote Learning Program and in-person. This transition was scheduled to start on Monday, May 3, 2021, but was paused pending the return to in-person learning. 

The Ontario Government has now confirmed that in-person learning, except for students learning in-person with pervasive special education needs, will be closed for the remainder of the school year. This means there will be no elementary transition between in-person and remote learning, as students will continue learning remotely until the end of the school year.

2021 Graduations 

When planning for graduation ceremonies, HWDSB has carefully considered rules pertaining to organized public events and social gatherings. As outlined in the Guide to Reopening Ontario’s Schools, schools and school boards are expected to promote physical distancing, cohorting, and avoiding activities that may result in close contacts with others (e.g., school gatherings/school assemblies).

The current provincewide emergency brake was implemented on April 3, 2021 in response to the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. All public health and workplace safety measures under the emergency brake will remain in place until Ontario enters Step One of the Roadmap to Reopen, at which point restrictions will ease with an initial focus on outdoor settings.

Based on current trends in key health indicators, including the provincial vaccination rate, officials expect Ontario to enter step one of the roadmap the week of June 14, 2021. The province will confirm the shift closer to the expected start of this first step. Step 1 will allow more outdoor activities to resume with smaller, well-managed crowds where risk of transmission is minimized. This includes outdoor gatherings up to 10 people. 

In its June 2 news release regarding the continuation of remote learning, Ontario shared the following: 

  • The government will allow school boards to invite graduating students in elementary schools (by class) and secondary schools (by homeroom/quadmestered class) to return to school in June for a short, outdoor celebration, where physical distancing is possible. 

HWDSB will continue to meet with Hamilton Public Health Services to discuss how we can safely plan elementary (Grade 8) and secondary (Grade 12) graduation events. We will also await further direction from Ontario Government and the Ministry of Education to determine how these events or year-end class celebrations can be operationalized safely. The events will be dependent on the status of the provincewide emergency brake, the entering of Step One of the Roadmap to Reopen, and other public health measures.  

We will update students, staff, and families as information becomes available and plans become confirmed. Any new details specific to elementary and secondary graduations will be added to our 2021 Graduation Events web page.

Elementary Remote Learning 2021-22 

HWDSB is offering remote learning for elementary students (Kindergarten to Grade 8) in 2021-22 as an option for families concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic as directed by the Ministry of Education. 

Elementary remote learning next year will be connected to physical schools as part of a dual-track model. This model allows students to learn remotely while being connected to a physical school. The remote teachers will be members of the school staff and the school principal will also be the remote principal. The start and end times for the remote classroom will be based on the school’s bell times. 

Parents, guardians and caregivers were able to select elementary remote learning for 2021-22 on the Parent Portal. This form was open from Thursday, May 13 to Tuesday, June 1. By default, students are now considered in-person learners unless this choice was selected.  

Families will be offered a remote placement in a school placement by the end of June. For more information, visit our Elementary Remote Learning 2021-22 web page. 

Secondary Learning Models 2021-22 

Quadmester Learning Model: The Quadmester is a change from the Rotational Model currently offered at HWDSB. It divides the school year into four quarters or sections, with each quarter or section offering two face-to-face classes. This allows for more in-person learning with two classes at 150 minutes of instructional time for a total of 300 minutes of in-person learning every day. This means students will take 2 courses at a time, rather than 4 courses. This model will apply to both, face-to-face classes and e-learning classes. 

HWDSB will follow Public Health protocols and recommendations as well as Ministry direction to keep students safe in our schools. For more information about the Quadmester model, see our previous blog post. 

Secondary Remote Learning (eLearning): HWDSB is offering secondary remote learning in 2021-22 as an option for parents and student aged 18 years or older concerned about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

HWDSB’s secondary remote learning option for 2021-22 is eLearning. eLearning was also the remote learning model for secondary students in 2020-21. It is important to note that this learning model is different from what is being offered at the elementary level: 

  • An eLearning class is fully on-line via “The HUB”, a virtual learning environment (VLE). 
  • The teacher posts learning (readings, videos, recorded lessons, etc.) and learning activities for students. Students submit assignments online. 
  • Students will be scheduled into eLearning like in-person classes, and they have the flexibility to learn where and when it is convenient. 
  • Typically, eLearning has limited “live” or direct instruction because the teacher’s schedule and the students’ schedules may not be matched. However, we are exploring how we can add a larger “live” component to existing classes and any additional eLearning classes. 

Parents/guardian and students 18 years and older were asked to declare in the Parent Portal if they will be choosing to learn remotely through eLearning in September. This form was open from Monday, May 17 to Tuesday, June 1. By default, students are now considered in-person learners unless this choice was selected. 

For more information, visit our Secondary Learning Model 2021-22 web page. 

Secondary Student Success Days  

Keeping students on track to earn credits and progress to secondary graduation is a priority. Similar to semester one, Student Success days will continue for semester two students to support their achievement and well-being. Students struggling to earn their credit will have an opportunity to use these days rather than exams (June 17 – 24). 

June 2021 DELF Examination Cancellation 

The Diplôme d’études en langue française (DELF) is an official international diploma awarded by the French Ministry of Education recognizing the CEFR level of proficiency of candidates for whom French is a second language. 

In March 2021, HWDSB shared an update regarding upcoming DELF examination opportunities. Due to the global pandemic and the shift to remote learning in April 2021, the Board is unable to offer the DELF examination originally scheduled for June 2021. 

Please see our previous blog post for information about alternative DELF examination opportunities. 

Summer Learning Opportunities  

HWDSB is hosting summer learning opportunities. These programs are being profiled with the intention to share the many supports for our students. We are pleased that staff in various departments and teams at HWDSB have made these programs available. Enrolment and participation may vary for each program and school. Most of the programs will take place virtually with some in-person exceptions. Each program will lead the enrolment and participation process. Click here to see the Summer Learning Opportunities. 

Focus on Youth 

Every summer since 2008, HWDSB has partnered with not-for-profit groups through the Focus on Youth program to support them in delivering summer programs that keep young people safe and active. Applications for student employment close on June 16. Learn more. 

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Updated on Wednesday, June 02, 2021.
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