The kids are back in class – now what?

By Nick Bernard

Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB)director Wes Hahn observed a mood of fatigue tinged with hope during his Director’s Update at the board’s regular meeting on Jan. 25.
“As we enter the third calendar year of this pandemic, people are tired. Families are tired, staff are tired,” he said, expressing his gratitude for teachers, staff, and families during the transition back to in-person learning. “But you know, out in a school today and seeing the energy … there’s a lot of positive feelings about where we’re going.”
He also outlined how the board was keeping parents in the loop, now that COVID testing and reporting falls on the board’s shoulders.
“Daily reporting of attendance occurs from our schools into the [Ontario government’s] absentee reporting tool, and then the following day, that information is uploaded and posted in the ministry site,” Hahn explained. He also reiterated that the reported absentee data encompass both student and staff absences, as well as absences for reasons unrelated to COVID-19.

Currently, the threshold for class and school closures is an absentee rate of 30 per cent, a guideline Hahn says has been used by public health units for the monitoring of other communicable diseases.
“I think we have created a situation where we are creating confidence,” Hahn said.
Staff have also been supplied with PPE, and a screening process for students is in place. HEPA air filters have also been delivered to all schools, which Hahn says puts the board well within Ministry guidelines for air filtration.

Hahn also said that the Ontario government’s COVID-19 screener, in combination with the rapid antigen testing kits that students receive through the board, has been helpful for students and staff to gauge their safety in the school building.
“I’m sure [testing kits], along with our screener has helped really … inform them before they enter the building the next day, whether they’ve tested positive or whether the screener has made them aware that they could be at risk, and not to enter the building,” Hahn explained.
The board will also be hosting vaccination clinics in some schools for students aged five to 11, with parent permission. Dates for those clinics have yet to be announced.
Students and staff can use the Ontario government’s COVID-19 screening tool at
The province’s school absentee data is updated daily, and can be found at

Strategic plan 2022-2027 released to a warm reception
Director Hahn presented the TLDSB’s 2022-2027 strategic plan to the board . In his presentation, he described collaborating with staff, students, parents, and community partners to get their impressions on what the board’s priorities should be over the next five years.
“We really looked at some guiding principles that would help us engage our stakeholders and our staff and our students,” Hahn said, describing the plan’s two main goals of supporting meaningful learning, and creating learning spaces that foster equity, inclusion, and belonging.
Each goal is presented with commitments the board intends to make to students, staff, and the community, framed around statements that say “we will.”
“They’re very powerful,” Hahn said of that particular phrasing. “And we believe they’re commitment statements that we need to abide by … we think this is an important part of this plan that holds us accountable.”

A motion to pass the plan was swiftly voted into approval by board trustees, with trustee Judy Saunders praising the document for its plain but engaging language.
“[The plan] is something that is actually engaging – at least I find it engaging,” she said, describing her impressions of the plan. “The simple, clean lines of this document, and the simple, unpointed message that the document is putting out there.”
The TLDSB’s 2022-2027 Strategic Plan is available to view at