January 12, 2022 Meeting of LDSB Board of Trustees
Each meeting, a different Trustee will present the Indigenous Acknowledgement of Territory and include their own personal reflections.
Private Session Report
Vice Chair Tom Gingrich indicated Private Session Minutes from the Special Board Meeting of December 6, 2021 were approved, a personnel update and an OPSBA update were also provided.
Director Burra provided a personnel update. Associate Superintendent provided a Safe Schools Update. Trustee French provided an OPSBA Labour update, and Trustees passed a motion in that regard.
There was no other business conducted, or motions passed in Private Session.
Chair Suzanne Ruttan provided the following report.
Chair Ruttan commented that 2022 is the fourth and last year of the Board's term of office. She remarked that the confirmation students will return to in-person learning on January 17, from the Ministry of Education, may be welcome for some families, and understands for others there may be mixed emotions out of care and concern for the health of student and staff.
Trustees acknowledge that families are dealing with a lot right now. Many Limestone staff are also balancing work while supporting their own children's learning from home. It is not easy.
Trustees can not recognize and thank the extraordinary efforts of staff enough times as they continue to provide essential supports for students during this pandemic, as we again find ourselves pivoting to remote learning.
For all of us, Trustees, students, staff and families, flexibility is key in the days ahead as we continue to do the best we can serve students academically and socially.
In the coming months, Trustees will continue with regular business like next year’s school year calendar, and budget.
COVID-19 continues to dominate how we deliver teaching and learning, and the Chair, again, a year later, is so appreciative of the efforts of students, staff, families, and the board’s community partners in doing the best we can to provide students with quality public education.
Student Trustee Report
The Student Trustee Report was presented by Trustee Johnson.
The InterSchool Council meeting held on January 11 had smaller than usual number of students attending because the current remote learning schedule may have made it difficult for some students to attend.
With the move to remote learning, the topic of the Food Sharing Project was raised given demand in our system. There are food programs in every school, however, Student Trustees don’t think this is well known. They have reached out to Director Burra to see how InterSchool Council can help support greater awareness.
The group continued the discussion of gender neutral washrooms in schools. Trustee Roy had asked an important question, “Does your school have one or more gender neutral washrooms?” As a group there were approximately two schools that indicated they did not have gender neutral washrooms. The possibility is that these schools do have one, however, it is either not very accessible to students or they are unaware of the washrooms. Student Trustees feel strongly that there should be more gender neutral washrooms and students that need accessible washrooms. They also have a goal to ensure there is greater awareness of gender neutral washrooms and how student leaders can make the experience more comfortable for all students.
International Holocaust Memorial Day is January 27. We understand that the day is recognized as a Board Date of Significance, but the Student Trustees and the InterSchool Council feel that there should be some form of additional recognition and awareness.
The following are highlights of the Director's Report:
The month of December was a marathon for Limestone given the increasing pressures of rising COVID-19 case counts in the region and the impact this had on our system. There were several classes and/or schools that had to pivot to remote learning during the last week of school, and many class cohorts were sent into isolation leading up to and over the holiday period due to enhanced isolation requirements to help stop the spread of Omicron. Thank you to everyone for their patience and flexibility as we navigated these ever-changing circumstances.
A new year often brings new hope. While we are still dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 there continue to be bright spots. The move to remote learning is a challenge indeed but so many educators have gone above and beyond to make the transition as smooth as possible for students – and to make it fun and engaging. That being said, every time we pivot to remote/virtual learning staff and families face significant challenges in balancing their own work with children and/or youth engaging online. While the expectations for virtual/remote learning are clear, the delivery and uptake can be uneven based on individual family circumstances. Staff and families continue to do the best they can under exceptional circumstances. I know many people will be happy to return to classes next week and we look forward to welcoming everyone back safely.
The next few weeks promise to be busy. The annual survey for input on the 2022-2023 school-year calendar will be released. Schools will again support awareness about mental health as part of Bell Let’s Talk Day on January 26. Schools will switch over to second term/semester at the end of the month, maintaining quadmesters at the secondary level. Preparations are under way for Black History Month in February. A new partnership with the Kingston Frontenac Public Library’s Poetry and Prose program will feature several workshops with LDSB graduate Britta B. and other readings and events.
The OPSBA Board of Directors next meeting is in February. The annual Public Education Symposium is scheduled virtually later this month, and will include brief regional meetings.
Presentation: Employee Affinity Networks
As part of the school board’s commitment to Human Rights and Equity Action, Trustees received an introductory presentation about Limestone’s Employee Affinity Networks. Superintendent of Education A. McDonnell introduced Rae McDonald - Equity Curriculum Consultant K-8: Arts and Social Studies, History, Geography and Yusuf Abdulkareem, Human Rights and Equity Officer who described the process undertaken to date.
Employee Affinity Networks aim to provide a confidential empowering space for sharing experiences, peer-to-peer connection, informal mentorship and increase a sense of belonging. These networks provide a space for members to voice and address concerns that impact their lived experience within the Limestone District School Board.
Input from these staff will determine priorities and strategies supporting staff, students and communities with Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Indigeneity actions; build stronger staff cross-board connectedness and sense of belonging; amplify voices addressing current issues and needs in the system; and provide informed advice, guidance on current LDSB processes, policies, and procedures. These networks are in the beginning stages.
There will be representation from these networks on the Limestone's Equity Advisory Committee which supports strategies for systemic implementation of the board's Equity and Action Plan, and in identifying and eliminating barriers to an equitable and inclusive environment for all.
Current projects that will seek input from these networks include:
- Workplace Climate Survey
- Human Rights Reporting tool/whole school approach
- Input on Equity Action Plan revisions
Report for Action: Multi-Year Capital and School Renewal Project Plan
Starting in 2011‐2012 the Board prepared a 10‐Year Capital ‐ School Renewal Project Plan that is updated each year. The purpose of the plan is to highlight proposed school
renewal project activities under the following project types: Heating/Ventilation/AC, Electrical, Structure Communications (ITS), Site Improvements, Conveyance, Lighting, Interior Renovations, Plumbing & Building Envelope.
The Facility Services Department has developed the Capital and School Renewal Project Plan based upon the VFA Building Condition reports for all schools; assessing local needs with school staff, analysis from maintenance work orders; knowledge from facilities trades and maintenance staff, and expertise from engineering and other consultants.
The Multi‐Year Capital plan includes an updated 2021‐2022 listing of $20,591,350 projects by
school or various schools (page 45 in Agenda Package). For the 2022‐2023 to 2031‐2032 school years, the 10‐year plan includes an estimated $4,500,000 in proposed annual school renewal project activity per year based upon prior year Ministry funding levels.
After several questions, Trustees approved the Multi‐Year Capital and School Renewal Project Plan, and that a revised copy of the 10‐Year Capital and School Renewal Project Plan be posted on the board’s website.
Report for Action: Appointment of SEAC Member-at-Large
Report for Information: De-streaming Grade 9
This September, all Grade 9 subjects will be offered in one stream. De-streaming will allow students to enter high school, get settled, and begin their secondary school experience prior to choosing their courses in Grade 10.
Achievement data from schools that offered de-streamed classes in Quad 1 is similar to data from the Grade 9 English classes which are still offered in Applied and Academic. Results are very similar: 96% of students achieved their math credit and 95% of students achieved their English credit. Of the students that didn’t achieve their credit, most will be able to work with student success team to get their credit through credit recovery.
The majority of students entering Grade 9 in September 2022 will be enrolled in a single stream of compulsory courses. A working group will be formed with administrators and educators to develop implementation plans.
Report for Information: COVID-19 Update
Since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, Trustees have received regular updates regarding Ministry direction and guidance for the operation of schools. For the better part of the last two years, school board staff have needed to quickly adapt to changing circumstances due to the pandemic and adjustments to Ministry direction and guidance.
Director Burra provided a summary of several significant changes impacting the operation of schools in January, including the pivot to remote/virtual leaning until at least January 17. As of January 11, 2022, Limestone was serving just over 500 students with significant
special education needs in person across 53 LDSB sites. There are just over 400 staff in
place to serve these students.
On the evening of January 10, media began reporting that K-12 schools across Ontario would resume in-person learning on Monday, January 17, 2022 as previously communicated along with additional changes to the school COVID screener, access to PCR tests, isolation requirements, supply and guidance on how Rapid Antigen Test kits are to be deployed and utilized by staff and/or students, changes to reporting absences to Public Health for staff and students, among other items.
These changes are a significant departure from how cases were being managed with the
assistance of Public Health since the start of the pandemic. LDSB anticipates further guidance from the Ministry of Education and/or Public Health on case tracking and monitoring.
Given the importance of having all students return to in-person learning and stay there, LDSB commits to do everything it can to support the rollout of vaccines to all students aged 5+ for the first, second, and third dose of COVID vaccine as medically appropriate. Limestone continues to be ready to work with KFL&A Public Health to provide accessible vaccination clinics for all eligible staff/students in areas where vaccination rates remain lower than average.
Motions from the Floor:
In response to the Director's COVID-19 Report for Information, Trustee Elliott put forth the following motion from the floor:
"That the Limestone District School Board send a letter to KFL&A Public Health, and our Medical Officer of Health Dr. Piotr Oglaza, expressing LDSB’s support and gratitude for their active partnership..."
Following Trustee discussion, and friendly amendments, the motion passed.
After much discussion amongst Trustees regarding the significant changes to the COVID-19 protocols, Trustee Elliott put forth a second motion from the floor requesting the Chair write a letter to the Minister of Education , the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and local Medical Officers of Health and outline several areas where additional measures will create extra layers of risk mitigation.
After thorough discussion by Trustees and friendly amendments, the motion was passed.
Unfinished Business: Election of Board OPSBA Representative
Nominations were called, and an election was held. Trustee K. McGregor will serve as the LDSB representative beginning in June 2022, and Trustee R. Hutcheon will serve as alternate.
New Business: Notice of Motion
Motion for consideration, brought forward by Trustee G. Elliott,
“That the LDSB write a letter to the Minister of Education regarding the recent memo "Next Steps for De- streaming: Grade 9 Course Codes and Descriptions for the 2022-2023 School Year," requesting that the Ministry provide enhanced funding that would allow for additional Grade 9 classes and/or staffing to support classroom instruction and/or out of classroom supports necessary to provide maximum opportunity for student success, as students continue to transition to this new model."
Motion passed as presented.