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NOW @ HWDSB – Winter 2023

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NOW @ HWDSB – Winter 2023

now @ hwdsb winter 2023 banner

Proud to be HWDSB!  

Thank you for reading the first-ever NOW @ HWDSB, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board’s official newsletter. In this update, you can click the following images and links to read about:
now at hwdsb
elementary at hwdsb secondary at hwdsb
Find mental health supports. Learn about health measures. Explore Black History Month at HWDSB.
Details about Kindergarten registration. Course selection begins February 7. Discover important dates at HWDSB.

We value effective communication with families. This newsletter is one more way keeping you informed. This communication will be published four times within the school year. What is shared in NOW @ HWDSB is a commitment of HWDSB’s Communication Standards.

Questions or comments? Please email [email protected] 

Message from the Chair and Director @ HWDSB

In a video message, Dawn Danko, Chair of the Board, and Sheryl Robinson Petrazzini, Director of Education, introduce NOW @ HWDSB to the community. Topics shared in the video are outlined in the newsletter below. 

Great things are happening across the Board. This information is intended to be news you can use as a member of our school communities. We also invite you to read recent media stories that highlight excellence at HWDSB! 

Well-being @ HWDSB

Health Measures  

As you are aware, HWDSB is following Public Health guidance and we are strongly recommending that masks be worn indoors, particularly when you cannot distance, or it is crowded. Staff continue to have masks available for students or staff at all schools.     

Families are reminded to screen before attending school using Ontario’s School and Child Care Screening Tool. Students should stay home if they are sick. Remind children to continue their respiratory etiquette – like coughing or sneezing in their elbow and to avoid touching their faces. Rapid COVID tests are also available at schools. You can ask for a mask/COVID test at your school’s office.  

Learn More:  

We Help Mental Health Supports  

There are many ways that parents and caregivers can help their loved ones navigate the colder months, manage exam and academic related stress, and help to improve their overall mental well-being. Explore Winter 2023’s We Help Update for a wide range of mental health resources geared towards students and their families.  

Learning @ HWDSB

2023-24 Out-of-Catchment Process 

HWDSB has attendance boundaries for each of its schools. As a default, all students are directed to attend their In-Catchment School, allowing the Board to effectively use resources for teaching and learning. In some cases, families want their child to attend an Out-of-Catchment School.  

Click here to find a full list of elementary and secondary schools open to Out-of-Catchment. Specific application forms for elementary and secondary students can also be found on this page. Applications are due March 3 by 4 p.m. Families will be notified of a decision March 10 by 4 p.m. 

Black History Month/Black Joy Project 

February 1 marks the start of Black History and Heritage Month in Ontario and across Canada. During Black History Month, students and staff engage in various activities to celebrate Black culture and history, and explore the significant contributions of Black Canadians.  

Throughout February, Sheryl Robinson Petrazzini, Director of Education, is inviting members of the Black communities across HWDSB to share stories and experiences on Engage HWDSB about what Black Joy means to them. Click here to add a submission on Engage HWDSB.

Indigenous Education Circle Strategic Action Plan

HWDSB is proud to share the Indigenous Education Circle Strategic Action Plan (IECSAP) for 2021-2025.   

The Indigenous Education team worked with local Indigenous communities to support Indigenous languages, knowledge systems, worldviews, and ways of knowing, being and doing. The plan has five pillars – Revillagize, Reclaim, Renew, Restore and Celebrate – that create opportunities to raise the collective Indigenous voices and honour commemoration, education, healing, and wellness.  

This work helps us to move toward restorative Indigenous educational wellness and success for students, families, communities, and nations. Families are encouraged to review the IECASP.  

Engagement @ HWDSB

Engage HWDSB/Naming of Schools 

HWDSB has launched a new and interactive platform to deliver on its commitment to community participation, collaboration and involvement in support of student success and well-being. Engage HWDSB is an online space where students, families, staff and communities can learn more about work at HWDSB, share their voice, and follow processes as they happen.

We are inviting the HWDSB community to share their thoughts on the Naming of Schools Policy, which directs how we decide on names for schools. Visit Engage HWDSB to share your feedback by February 6.  

Showcase of heARTS 

On Thursday, March 30, Hamilton Foundation for Student Success (HFSS) is hosting Showcase of heARTS. Showcase of heARTS is a variety-style show that will raise much-needed funds for students while celebrating their artistic achievements. HWDSB students will directly benefit from your generosity through Student Support Grants, which provide financial assistance to HWDSB students so that they can come to school and stay in school. 

Click here to purchase Showcase of heARTS tickets at early-bird pricing before there is an increase on February 28. Click here to donate to HFSS to support HWDSB students. 

Parent Involvement/School Council update 

The Parent Involvement Committee (PIC) provides advice and feedback to the Board from the parent perspective. They champion and demonstrate a commitment to parental engagement with a focus on supporting School Councils.  

This year, the Chair (Mike Palma) and Vice-Chair (Amanda Lloyd) of PIC are working hard to connect and support School Councils and parent volunteers in HWDSB schools. Among their many priorities, Mike and Amanda publish a monthly PIC Connection newsletter. They also host the PIC Connects Series with future dates to include include February 28, April 4, and May 23. Access their newsletter and other support for School Council members at https://hwdsb.info/SchoolCouncil.  

Safe Schools Action Plan 

Thank you to everyone who provided feedback related to the Draft Bullying Prevention and Intervention Policy  In our shared journey to build a culture without bullying, HWDSB continues to invite students and families to join a Safe Schools Advisory Group. 

Visit the Safe Schools Action Plan webpage to learn how you can help shape this important work.

Elementary @ HWDSB  

Elementary Focus Programs  

Elementary Focus Programs will be accepting applications for the 2023-24 school year starting February 2. Applications will close on February 23.  

Families interested in learning more about the Elementary Focus Programs are invited to join an MS Teams Live event on February 1 at 6 p.m. This event will consist of a short presentation followed by a moderated Q&A session. MS Teams link to join the session: hwdsb.info/focus-info-night 

Kindergarten Registration    

Online registration opens Monday, February 6 for Kindergarten at HWDSB. 

Families can register their child for the Kindergarten program in the calendar year that they turn four or five. Children must attend school if they are age six by September 1. If your child was not registered last year, but is still in this age group, they are welcome to enter year two of the Kindergarten program. Click here to learn how to register. 

Children enter Kindergarten with various needs and abilities. We want all children to have a positive and seamless transition to school. If you are registering a child requiring specialized services or supports, please complete the Tell Us About Your Child form. 

French Immersion Update  

The French Immersion program opened online applications for the 2023-24 school year in November 2022. An offer of placement is guaranteed to all current Senior Kindergarten applicants, however, not at a specific school.  

Families who applied for French Immersion are reminded to monitor their emails for a program location offering message that will arrive before February 24 at 4 p.m. 

Secondary @ HWDSB 

Semester 2 

As Semester 1 ends, we want to thank students, staff, and families for their efforts during final exams and assignments. Thursday, February 2 is a P.A. Day for all secondary schools. The first day of classes for Semester 2 is Friday, February 3.  

Course Selection 

Course selection for secondary students, as well as incoming Grade 9 students, for the 2023-24 school years opens February 7. The deadline for submission is March 3. 

Students can access Xello through “Class Tools” on The HUB to make their selections. Families will receive confirmation of courses selected in Parent Portal. There will be an area in Parent Portal for families to indicate approval of courses selected.  

Ahead of the course selection process, students and families can visit the  Secondary Programs webpage for details about the wide range of options available at HWDSB. Click the following links to learn more about eLearning, Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM), Cooperative Education (Co-op), Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), and Dual Credit. 

Click here to learn more about Digital Tools for Students and Digital Tools for Families. If you have additional questions about the course selection process, please contact your school. 

Online Learning Opt-Out Process 

Families can now opt out of the Ministry of Education’s online learning graduation requirement. The ‘eLearning Opt-Out for Families’ form can be found in Parent Portal, and there is currently no expiration date or deadline to submit. 

Click here to read more in our previous blog post, which now features an FAQ section. 

Student Trustee Elections 

HWDSB is committed to hearing the voices of students through Student Trustees. Two Student Trustees for the 2023-24 school year will be selected through an election process. 

2023-24 Student Trustee candidates will be shared on February 13, with online voting opening February 24.  

Secondary School Immunization Program 

Public Health is pleased to offer a vaccine clinic this year at your child’s high school. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these high school-based clinics were not available and as a result, you may not be aware that these clinics are part of the regular work of public health and have been offered yearly in the past. High school clinics provide an opportunity for your child to catch-up on any missing routine vaccinations at school. On the clinic day, students may attend the clinic to receive any missing vaccines.  

Learn more about dates, locations, types of vaccines, and eligibility at School Vaccine Clinics. 

Important Dates @ HWDSB

  • P.A. Day (Secondary only) – February 2, 2023 
  • Semester 2: First Day of Classes – February 3, 2023 
  • Kindergarten Registration Opens – February 6, 2023 
  • Secondary Course Selection Begins – February 7, 2023 
  • Semester 1 Report Cards (Secondary) sent home – February 13, 2023  
  • Term 1 Report Cards (Elementary) sent home – February 17, 2023 
  • Valentine’s Day – February 14, 2023 
  • John C. Holland Awards – February 18, 2023 
  • Family Day (no school) – February 20, 2023 
  • Pink Shirt Day – February 22, 2023 
  • Showcase of heARTS Early Bird Deadline – February 28, 2023 
  • P.A. Day (Elementary and Secondary) – March 3, 2023 


Updated on Tuesday, January 31, 2023.
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