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Schools must prepare for multiple scenarios in September

Sean Monteith

Letter from Sean Monteith
Director of Education with the Hastings Prince Edward District School Board

Dear Students, Parents/Guardians, Families and Staff:

I wish to begin this letter by acknowledging all of you, every one of our students, our families and, of course, our staff. We are all part of a bigger community, and so in acknowledging each of you, I also pay homage to the fact that we could not have made it through these several months of the COVID-19 pandemic without one another.

As we approach the end of the 2019-2020 school year, I acknowledge that many questions remain, some that none of us have ever encountered or even anticipated.

Admittedly, as the Director of Education and as an educator for over 25 years, I candidly share that I feel the same way.

We must prepare for multiple scenarios and be ready to activate school re-entry plans quickly to respect public health, and the safety of our students and staff. These approaches will allow us to provide educational experiences that inspire learning, motivate our students to explore and assure families that we will be able to support their children.

Last week the Minister of Education announced that all Ontario school boards are required to be ready for September 2020 with three scenarios and to submit them to the Ministry of Education. I want to assure you that the Senior Administration and staff of the HPEDSB have been planning for this re-entry and the potential environments we may face for several months.

The scenarios that we are preparing for include the following:

– a return to a conventional (or traditional), regular classroom instruction, with health and safety requirements;
– a continuation of remote learning, including the use of live online instruction that incorporates a synchronous delivery between teacher and students; and
– an adapted hybrid delivery model where students return to class combined with online learning that is in accordance with public health requirements and limits the number of students in the physical classroom to a maximum of 15.

In addition to this intensive planning, we are also required and prepared to move quickly and seamlessly between these models depending on the situation of the COVID-19 virus spread, and in close consultation with public health and provincial directives.

It is perhaps most important to add that above all else and regardless of what model we are required to be prepared for in September, that as parents/guardians and families, the decision to send your child to school remains your choice. The HPEDSB respects parental decisions about whether you are comfortable sending your children to school.

Lastly, I appreciate that some are feeling uncertainty and anxiety at this time given the unknown nature of what the future may hold. Please do not feel pressured to have a family plan determined now for a future that is two months away. We are all experiencing the same uncertainties and will face them as we have over the past four months.

I reassure you that we will continue to work hard and be ready for any reality, and that we will communicate our actions and plans openly and transparently.

We will continue to provide updates on our website and social media streams, in addition to other media sources, such as radio and print.

In closing, I feel it imperative to speak to a concern that many educators and I have: the mental health and emotional well-being of our students, their families and our staff. This has been an incredibly difficult time in our history and we will no doubt face more challenges.

Even so, I am confident we will address them with unwavering resolve and will always centre our actions around the needs of our kids.

Our website, www.HPEschools.ca contains the most current information including tips sheets for families and educators, and perhaps most important, contact information for Kids Help Phone.

Stay safe, stay healthy and stay positive.

Sincerely,
Sean Monteith
Director of Education

Filed Under: Hastings & Prince Edward District School BoardNews from Everywhere Else

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