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Government preparing for possible longer school closures

Parents and students may have to prepare for more teaching from home – beyond the two week school closure originally planned to April 5.

No specific direction has yet been received by the local board of education.

“Like many of you, we at the senior level of the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board have continued to watch the evolving events around the world as they pertain to COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus), and the responding actions being taken by countries, governments and even school boards,” said Sean Monteith, Director of Education in a letter to parents. “I think it is probably a safe assumption that there has been, at times, a surreal feeling about the reality that faces us all. In saying this, however, the Senior Administration and Board of Trustees have continued to work throughout this past week, attempting to mitigate every challenge that we face as a school board, and that face our students and families, and our staff.”

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce has stated in a letter to Ontario parents that the government is looking at ways to keep courses available amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The province has already created an online learning portal through TVO (Ontario.ca/learnathome)  to help students and is looking at expanding online courses. Lecce states the province would like to make sure students are on track to graduate this year.

He has removed the Ontario Secondary School literacy test as a requirement for graduation and is working with colleges and universities to ensure students will be able to apply for post secondary education as usual.

“During this time, I encourage you to continue to have open conversations with your children about COVID-19 and acknowledge that their reactions to this period — however emotional — are understandable and normal. There are many resources available to you and your children, notably Kids Help Phone, which is Canada’s only 24/7 national support service. They offer professional counselling, information and referrals and volunteer-led, text-based
support to young people in both English and French. Please visit their website: www.kidshelpphone.ca, call: 1-800-668-6868, or text CONNECT to 686868.”

“The fluidity of developments around COVID-19 means we are preparing in the event the closure period is further
extended,” said Lecce in his letter. “Specifically, we are working to ensure that students will be able to continue their coursework and credit accumulation, even when we aren’t able to be in a classroom setting.

“We are working with school boards to ensure students that currently do not have access to computers gain the technology needed to participate.”

The ministry is also providing all school boards with access to funding for the deep cleaning of school facilities, childcare centres, and school buses.

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