The following are brief reports from a Trillium Lakelands District School Board meeting held both in person and virtually on March 22.
By Sue Tiffin
“It is good to be back in person,” said Wes Hahn, school board director in his director’s update, acknowledging much of the board meeting in the same room again. Board members sat distanced from each other with some wearing masks, while a few tuned in virtually.
As the province dropped mask mandates that week, beginning March 21, Hahn said Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) aligned with decisions from the ministry, supporting the personal choice of students, staff and visitors to wear masks in schools.
“We’ve made it very, very clear that this is a choice for parents and our staff and our students and that we certainly support that choice, and we will stand behind that,” Hahn said. “We know that the superintendents have been discussing that with their administrators, to make sure that everyone feels welcome, whatever decision they make within our building.”
Hahn said hand hygiene etiquette, enhanced cleaning, use of HEPA filters, absence reporting to the ministry, rapid antigen tests and vaccination clinics continue.
“We have some challenges ahead, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “There’s still a lot of anxious feelings in the system. Superintendents this week have been touching base with their administrators, and we’ve been getting a sense of how the system is feeling with the new changes. Anxiety, sure, being anxious, a little unsure, but still hopeful.”
He said, “we want to keep the learning momentum moving forward.”
Trustee John Byrne asked if masks are mandatory on school buses, as they are on public transit. Hahn said masks are optional on buses, too.
Right to Read
“Literacy and especially the reading in our system needs a focus,” said Hahn, citing two years of working through a pandemic, and for some students, not finding the support they need virtually, as causing challenges.
A Right to Read panel, in which educators from across the school board will join the administration team to share expertise from the classroom is upcoming.
In an update on secondary school learning, Kim Williams, TLDSB superintendent of learning, said the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test, rather than being the “fulsome test that we’ve had in the past that takes the entire day,” was instead shorter and had fewer open-response and longer response items, and more “clicking and dragging.”
The success rate of participating students was 74.6 per cent. The OSSLT will be written again in the spring.