Please see Director Notten’s Letter below.

Please note that there will not be a November Transition Window to move to St. Isidore Virtual School.

Dear Waterloo Catholic Community –

We hope that you are well in body, mind, and spirit.  We know that can be challenging in these times but we hope that you are drawing energy from our students, and from their experience of being re-engaged in their learning and forging new friendships while rekindling old ones.    Every day we hear stories and bear witness to the good work of our staff, and we know that they are making a difference to all the students we serve.  The purpose of this letter is to share a few brief updates and then offer an invitation.

To begin, at the October Board meeting last night we brought a series of important updates in relation to our ongoing operation of schools in our new COVID reality.  We shared that it is our intention to eliminate the November transition window in elementary.  We have been listening to our stakeholders – parents, teachers, administrators, and students, and while we know that it can be attractive to provide flexibility to accommodate changes between face to face and virtual, we also know that it takes a toll on everyone when there is disruption to pre-established classes.  No one asked for this new reality in which we are all living, and I think we can all appreciate that compromises are necessary and that as a school board, we are delivering on a promise not fully of our own making.  Having said that, I am extremely proud of all our staff and all they do each and every day to help us deliver on that promise.  Our staff in our bricks and mortar schools, and our St Isidore staff, are all hitting homeruns each and every day.  We anticipate that some parents may be disappointed to not have the additional transition opportunity, but we hope that in the main, people will agree that it was important to listen to the voices of our stakeholders, and to attempt to provide maximum stability moving forward.

In this same vein – we have been deliberating how to best proceed in secondary, in order to meet a variety of needs.  We have an additional 377 students who want to transition to St Isidore in secondary and 40 who wish to return to face to face.  (Generating a net 337 increase in students to St Isidore, or 14% of our total secondary population now studying in virtual)  A great many boards are now looking at a hybrid model of delivery in secondary, but again we tried to listen to the voices of our staff who told us a pivot in late November to a different model of delivery, other than what we currently experiencing, might be too stressful for all involved.  We know our staff have been working so hard and we are not looking to disrupt your reality again.  We also want our students to have the best educational experience possible.  To that end, we will continue with the current delivery model and take the next quadmester to fully consider options for the remaining two quadmesters.

We have had a few cases of covid in the past few days.   It is perhaps inevitable that when the provincial numbers rise, we too will see some cases.  I realize that if you get a letter saying there has been a case of COVID in your school that it is most unsettling.   I am pleased to report that to date our cases remain relatively few, they seem to be quickly managed and most importantly, we have had no cases of covid transmission in our schools to date.   Our safety protocols are working.   I know how much we all value reading that statement so I cannot state strongly enough the importance of following our WCDSB operational guidelines, of wearing masks as warranted, good hygiene practices and most of all, strong daily implementation of the self-screening tool.  We will only navigate this time together and fortunately, I have full confidence in our TEAM! #StrongerTogether.

And now to the invitation.  As we did this past spring, we are launching a ThoughtExchange today and it will remain open for the next week.  We really do want to hear from you.  To gain insight into your thoughts about the past several weeks and our launch to the 2020-21 school year.  A reminder that you can add thoughts at any time, but do not forget to return perhaps more than once to star ideas as they populate.  As was the case last spring, it will give us insights into your impressions, your questions and assist us in know where we need to focus more energy.

The ThoughtExchange is available at: https://my.thoughtexchange.com/474084826

Please know that it is also available on our main website.

As indicated above, please remember that all students (or parents on their behalf) should complete this updated self-screening tool every day:  COVID-19 school and child care screening tool and a reminder that no staff should come to school without completing the adult self-assessment:  https://covid19checkup.ca/  The process of self screening each day is a vital step in ensuring the continued safety of all our schools, so sincere thanks to all for remaining faithful to this and to all our required protocols.

We are so very happy to be back to learning in our schools.  We have transitioned to Year 2 of our Pastoral Plan – Gathered to Become.  We look forward to our CSAC Chair and New Administrator Commissioning event Wednesday evening.  It feels so important to continue to find ways to foster community.  How blessed are well that we share one family in Christ as WCDSB – he nourishes and strengthens us daily.

We sincerely thank you for journeying with us.   Please reach out to us if you need help or guidance, and remain confident that we are here to support you, as we walk together as a hope-filled community.  #WCDSBTogether  #WeGotThis

Sincerely,

Loretta Notten

Director of Education