Planning Underway for 2021-2022 School Year

Planning Underway for 2021-2022 School Year
Posted on 05/14/2021

Dear families,

Last week, shortly after you received my update, school boards received some preliminary guidance from the Ministry of Education to help schools plan for the 2021-2022 school year. Although some of these directives may change, or be updated over the summer, I wanted to share some of that planning with you now.

Extension of 2021-2022 Virtual School Registration

As a result of new direction provided from the Ministry of Education, families now have until June 4, 2021 to confirm student registration for the 2021-2022 LDSB Virtual School. While we expect the majority of families to return their students to face-to-face learning, LDSB will offer a Virtual School option for September 2021 for students who learn best in the online environment, or require a virtual environment due to underlying medical conditions for themselves or their family members.

Due to the advance planning required to schedule classes and assign staffing, the board previously asked secondary families to register students by early April. Elementary families were asked to confirm by May 10, 2021. Secondary families should contact the student’s home school (regular in-person school). Elementary families should confirm attendance using this registration link. If your student will be attending in-person school, no action is required on your part.

Families who are already certain of their plans for September, are asked to register as soon as possible to assist with planning. We will continue do our very best to accommodate requests after June 4.

Learning Models for September 2021

At this time, Limestone is planning for all schools to return to face-to-face learning in September 2021 with the Virtual School option intended for those students for whom online learning is best or is required for health reasons.

Elementary schools (Kindergarten to Grade 8) will offer full-time in-person learning. Students will continue to be cohorted, or grouped, with their classmates and homeroom teacher. Specialized teachers, for classes such as French, the arts and health and physical education, will continue to visit classrooms as required and as was the case this year.

Secondary schools (Grade 9 to 12) will offer full-time in-person learning. Currently, schools will plan for a quadmester (two courses at a time) timetable for the first semester to limit the number of student-to-student contacts.   

It is important to note that both models could change based on a variety of factors. Schools will have plans in place to transition to remote learning or a hybrid model depending on the local and provincial public health and government direction. School boards will receive more direction on learning models and health and safety protocols from the Ministry over the summer and these will be communicated to families as soon as possible. It is likely, despite increased levels of vaccination in our communities, that several measures will remain in place for the start of the school year including daily screening, masking, hand hygiene and cohorting (grouping) of students.

Virtual Experience Survey

You may remember, we asked students and families to provide us with your thoughts on emergency remote learning during the latter part of  the 2019-2020 school year. The intent of the survey was to check in with students, families, and staff to see how things were going, and to ask how the board might strengthen and further support the learning and/or working from home experience.

In 2020-2021, students and families had the opportunity to begin the school year in either in-person or remote learning. Due to provincial stay-at-home orders, everyone was moved to remote learning following the December break and now, again, everyone is learning remotely except for some students with significant special education needs. Although the move to remote was not everyone’s choice, we would like to ask about your experience so that we can improve remote learning opportunities going forward to help ensure meaningful connections for students and families.

I hope you will take a few minutes to complete a short, anonymous, and voluntary survey. Because the survey is anonymous, no single person will be identified. Reports might include comments you choose to provide. Your feedback will be shared with school board staff who will use the results to help us understand ongoing needs in our district and inform any next steps.

Families are asked to complete a separate survey for each student in your family who is currently attending a Limestone school. Students in Grades 4 to 12 will have received an invite to participate via their Limestone email. The board hopes to capture authentic student voice from students themselves who are directly affected by remote learning. Younger students may require support from family members to complete the survey.

The survey can also be translated into Limestone’s top languages (aside from English and French). Look for the drop-down menu at the top of each page to select your preferred language. The survey is open until May 28, 2021 and will take no more than 5 to 10 minutes to complete.

LDSB Virtual Learning Survey May 2021 - Families

As you can see, there is significant planning going into the 2021-2022 school year. Staff are working hard to ensure that we are best prepared to welcome students back to what we hope is a more typical school experience. I will share more details as we receive them.

In the meantime, please continue to follow all public health directives to stay safe and healthy.

Krishna Burra
Director of Education