September 9, 2020 Meeting of LDSB Board of Trustees
Private Session Update
Vice Chair Laurie French provided a public report of topics discussed in private sessions which are held prior to Public Session, during these recent summer meetings. The Board minutes of July 6, July 13 and August 26, 2020 were approved. Trustees received updates on personnel, labour and OPSBA. No other items were discussed or subject to a motion.
Chair Suzanne Ruttan provided the following report.
Chair Ruttan acknowledged the support and trust that the broader Limestone community has shown to the school district and acknowledges school staff will do everything possible to keep students safe. She said LDSB will continue to work hard to ensure school communities have confidence in public education.
She also expressed her appreciation to senior staff for a summer filled with planning and complex COVID-19 navigation, including continual updated communications for keeping school communities informed.
The Chair concluded with extending sincere appreciation to her fellow Trustees for their governance and advocacy during these unprecedented times.
Director Burra stated that while there are always challenges to a new school year as everyone adjusts to new routines and structures, given amount of changes due to COVID-19, it has been impressive to see how students and staff have adjusted to new realities.
He added that undoubtedly, while we will continue to encounter obstacles, students, staff and school communities will need to remain flexible and adapt to changing realities in the coming days, weeks, and months. Staff are doing the best they can, and the strength of Limestone continues to be the quality of caring and dedicated people we have throughout the system. He acknowledged the energy and effort put forward by administrators, teachers, educational assistants, early childhood educators, clerical staff, maintenance and custodial staff, and bus operators in welcoming students back to face-to-face learning and virtual learning.
Director Burra reported LDSB partners Food Sharing Project and Rotary’s Isthmus program provided students and families with food boxes and/or grocery gift cards during the school closure period and over the summer months. These organizations also worked with the KFL&A United Way to provide students in need with backpacks filled with school supplies prior to this year's start-up. Food Sharing staff and volunteers delivered 272 backpacks with another 200 backpacks being shipped to schools to distribute to students this month.
In conclusion, he stated that there are lots of positive things happening in schools during this most unusual start to the school year and shared a short video that highlighted the first days of the 2020-2021 school year.
Presentation on Capital Projects
Facilities Manager David Fowler and Planning Officer Charlyn Downie presented Trustees with a report on capital and school renewal projects, completed during the spring and summer. The 2020 projects included $13M invested in structure, interiors, site and services such as mechanical, electrical, HVAC, plumbing and fire systems at 55 schools.
Considerations for prioritization include impact of component failure, safety, accommodation, accessibility, program delivery needs, and regulatory compliance.
The presentation included a selection of pictures from the 177 school renewal projects completed this year, despite COVID-19 challenges (once projects were allowed to resume/begin). Manager Fowler and Planning Officer Downie stated the Facility Services Team modelled innovation and collaboration in completing this important work.
Building Envelope Projects
Student Trustee Report
The September Board meeting is typically the first meeting for the Student Trustees, but due to business arising from pandemic planning, this year's representatives actually started their term this summer, participating in meetings alongside their municipally elected Board members.
Reports Requiring Decision: International Education
Limestone usually hosts between 100-130 International students each year. For September 2021 the Board is on track to host over 120 International students. This year, due to the current border restrictions, only returning students are allowed back. This represents less than half of the number that would normally be studying in Limestone.
The LDSB International Education department worked closely with Ontario Public Health and KFL&A Public Health to create a re-entry plan which was approved in August 2020.
LDSB will be providing online learning through the LDSB Virtual School for international students to start the school year. This will allow for international students to travel to Canada when travel restrictions have lifted, and quarantine for 14 days without negatively impacting their educational programming.
After discussion and further questions, Trustees approved the following motion which is a requirement of the Ministry of Education.
The Limestone District School Board confirms our desire to admit new international students when this becomes possible. In addition, the Limestone District School Board affirms our compliance with the Public Health Institutional Readiness Requirements for admitting new International Education students for face-to-face learning in Limestone schools, and the Board confirms the Limestone International Education program meets current federal and provincial requirements for the 2020-2021 school year, and will adjust as necessary if requirements change.
Reports for Information: School Re-entry Update
Director Burra provided a report on school re-entry with updates including remote learning, transportation, outbreak protocol, masking and communication. To view Board Meeting Agenda Packages, including full reports click here.
Virtual School/Remote Learning
Secondary students began virtual classes on September 8, 2020. LDSB is using a phased approach for the Elementary Virtual School. During Phase One, elementary students have access to online synchronous (live) learning support from contract teachers not assigned to face-to-face learning (e.g. accommodated) and central program staff. Elementary students will enter Phase Two of remote learning September 24, beginning virtual classes with a teacher attached to the virtual school through the regular elementary district-wide reorganization process.
Student Mental Health
In preparation for return to school, LDSB has shared a number of resources with educators to
enhance their mental health literacy and support their role in the promotion of mental health and wellness for students. These resources are evidence-informed, and supported by our Mental Health Lead and School Mental Health Ontario.
Tri-Board Student Transportation provided a return to transportation plan in response to COVID-19 on their website. This plan is in keeping with the Ministry of Education’s Guide to Reopening Ontario’s Schools and local public health guidelines.
The provincial outbreak protocols have been implemented by the Board. Additional requirements from the Ministry of Education will see daily reporting from schools and schools boards on their websites.
Limestone's school reopening communications is updated and amended weekly. New messages to families and staff from the Director of Education continue weekly, and the Board's frequently asked questions and Family Reference Guide have been updated to reflect recent changes and new information from the Ministry of Education's Operational Guidance: COVID-19 Management in Schools.
The recent motion by the Board of Trustees regarding masking for students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 and the implications in the classroom has caused some confusion. As a reminder, based on provincial direction, all students in Grades 4 to 12 are required to wear non-medical or cloth masks while indoors at school, unless there is a necessary exemption (medical conditions or special needs) that would prevent them from wearing a mask.
While Trustees voted to have all students in Limestone, including Kindergarten to Grade 3, wear masks in schools and on buses, further clarification has been provided acknowledging that the provincial directive/guidance is clear that masking is not mandatory for this age group.
Consequently, staff will be patient and gentle in working with Kindergarten to Grade 3 students to wear and use masks properly unless there is a necessary exemption, but there will not be any disciplinary measures taken against students struggling to comply nor enforcement of masking.
Internal Reports and Other Communications
Limestone District School Board
Location: 220 Portsmouth Avenue, Kingston, ON, Canada