August 28th, 2020
This following describes the WRDSB Plan for our Distance Learning Program, Fall 2020
As a parent or caregiver, you have either chosen in-person or Distance Learning for September for your child(ren). We have a higher than anticipated number of students who have opted for Distance Learning: over 8,500 elementary students and 2000 secondary students. These numbers include students who are choosing to work through a tech-enabled way and those who are working without the use of technology.
Students will continue to be considered part of their home school, but shared with a “Distance Learning Program”. Students will most likely be grouped with students who are from different schools. Teachers will be teaching students not only from their school, but from schools across the region. Distance learning students will be grouped according to their grade-level, with the exception of French Immersion at Elementary.
We have grouped all Elementary French Immersion (FI) students in the same program to maximize the use of our Distance Learning French Teachers. Once we have a better idea of the total number of FI students, teachers and classes, we will be able to plan for as much instructional time in French as possible. The amount of instructional time and subjects taught in French will be communicated to families between September 8 to 11.
The Distance Learning Program will be organized into divisions:
- Junior Kindergarten/Senior Kindergarten
- Primary: Grades 1 to 3
- Junior: Grades 4 to 6
- Intermediate: Grades 7 and 8
- French Immersion: Grades 1 to 8
- Secondary: Grades 9 to 12+
Elementary Distance Learning Program
The Elementary Distance Learning (DL) will begin with a focus on creating connection and a sense of belonging during the week of September 8 to 11. During that week, educators will focus on building relationships with students and families, ensuring that families have the appropriate technology for on-line learning or learning materials for tech-free learning, as well as establishing routines. In addition, educators will receive daily professional development in building their on-line classroom using either Brightspace/VLE or Google Classroom. Families will receive their child(ren)’s daily/weekly schedules from their child(ren)’s teachers during the week of September 8 to 11. Beginning September 14, DL schedules will begin for all staff and students.
Students and Educators teaching in the Elementary Distance Learning Program will continue to access resource supports from the home school. i.e., Guidance Teachers, Special Education Resource Teachers, English as a Second Language Teachers and Child and Youth Workers as needed. The home school in collaboration with the Elementary Distance Learning Teacher will also support the development of an Individual Education Plan (IEP) where needed.
For families who wish to make a change from Distance Learning to In-Person learning, these changes will occur at two natural transition points in the year: November 10 (Progress Report Card), 2020 or February 3, 2021 (First Term Report Card). To ensure that transitions between modes of learning minimize gaps in programming, all teachers, whether teaching in-person or Distance Learning, will follow a designated Long Range Plan for Mathematics.
Secondary Distance Learning Program
As noted above, students will be shared between the home school and the Distance Learning Program. The schedule for Distance Learning will align with the quadmester schedule for students who are attending in person). Students will study two (2) credits per quadmester based on the courses they selected last spring. Students will have the option to change from one mode of learning to another at the end of each quadmester (e.g., a student who is attending in person may wish to switch to Distance Learning). E-learning courses will continue to be semestered.
Distance Learning will begin with a focus on building relationships and connecting with students and families. Our staff will also help ensure access to the resources needed by the student. Teachers will spend the first days of class ensuring that families have the appropriate technology for online learning or learning materials for tech-free learning and establishing routines and ensuring the students gain familiarity with the D2L/VLE online platform.
The home school staff that support our students (e.g. Special Education, ESL, Student Success, CYW, SW, etc) will continue to do so in the Distance Learning program. For example the home school Guidance teacher will support our DL students with any course choice adjustments and pathway to graduation decisions.
It is important to note that significant reorganization of our high schools has had to occur in a very short timeline in order to welcome our students back to class in ways that are new to us all. Some course offerings and programs that are unique to a specific school or have a small number of students may not be available in our Distance Learning program. Home school course offerings may also be affected for the same reasons. Guidance staff will work to minimize these impacts on students and contact any affected students as quickly as possible to choose new options in these cases.
The teachers of our Distance Learning program will be qualified subject teachers working from their home school as a base, or in some specially accommodated cases from a work at home environment. Distance Learning teachers will be available and teaching in the program during the same school hours as our face to face school learners. We will be supporting these teachers in their practice and they will look forward to engaging with our Distance Learning students in both synchronous (real-time) and asynchronous (teacher/student working at different times) teaching methods.