Premier Doug Ford announced today that schools will be closed to teachers until May 1st, and to students until May 4th.
“Let me start by sharing that, as an experienced educator in Ontario for the past three decades, I have never seen nor experienced anything quite like what we are going through now in public education,” Director of Education for Hastings-Prince Edward District School Board Sean Monteith says in a statement. “But perhaps more importantly, and more meaningful to most of you, as a father of two sons, I am sharing the same concerns and conversations that many of you are having.”
Tuesday morning, Monteith says he participated in a conference call with the Minister of Education Stephen Lecce, Deputy Minister Bruce Rodrigues, other Directors of Education in Ontario and Chairs of Ontario school boards. “The nature of the call was to communicate expectations and provide direction as we prepare for a prolonged closure of all schools,” he says.”
Monteith says he doesn’t have any information on if the school closure will extend past May but ensures everyone that it’s being done to protect staff and students.
He outlines that while schools are closed HPEDSB will be changing their approach with how they provide education. They will be providing a “robust and credible” continuity of the learning environment that the school board says will be different from the regular classroom experience. Technology, virtual and online learning and remote teacher-student contact will be utilized. A plan is also in the works to allow for controlled access to schools to allow staff to get professional materials and learning supplies and for families to get students’ belongings. A website has already been set-up to allow for students to voluntarily work from home.
The school board also announced that educator-created learning activities that do not require screen-time or technology are being made available.
“We, at the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board, also recognize that many of you are facing challenges in accessing food, clothing, technology and even safe housing,” Monteith says. “We accept that, throughout this time, the role of HPEDSB is changing and that we are being called upon, more and more, to assist in providing basic necessities for an increasing number of our families. We commit to serving this social responsibility.”
He says they will continue to provide updates and “clear and supportive actions.”