Local Health Units Update Trustees on Health Practices in Schools:
Dr. Paula Stewart of the Lanark Leeds and Grenville Public Health Unit and Dr. Paul Roumeliotis of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit outlined the current COVID-19 cases within the communities as well as associated precautions they’re taking to control the spread, specifically within schools. Both Medical Officers of Health applauded UCDSB staff for their responses to any health unit investigation conducted within UCDSB schools. These investigations have determined that all cases are coming from the community and were then contained within the school. Both Medical Officers of Health agreed that based on the precautions and quickresponses, schools have been successful in maintaining a safe learning environment.
Strategizes a Response to School Staffing Shortages:
In September, the school district experienced significant challenges securing casual staff to address employee absences at school. The Human Resources Department has since launched a multistep strategy to address the shortage, including working with the elementary teachers’ union to waive previous requirements needed to stay on the occasional teacher list and increase the number of occasional teachers permitted on the list, reaching out to retired employees, incorporating a pay rate increase for emergency casual staff and pursuing virtual career fairs. School board staff report they have documented lower absences and higher fill-rates in the first two weeks of October.
UCDSB Schools See Decreased Suspension Rate in 2019-2020:
Staff provided an annual Safe Schools Report for 2019- 2020 that highlighted discipline rates and measures, staff training and other initiatives to build skills and promote positive characteristics that contribute to a positive school climate. UCDSB staff outlined that in-school suspensions decreased last year by 36 per cent compared to the previous school year, noting that projections indicated that had the COVID-19 school closure not occurred, rates would have been down by only 2 per cent.
Staff Provide Updates on the UCDSB Remote Learning Model:
Currently, seven per cent of students are doing synchronous learning, which is when student follows along with the classroom lesson from their home computer, in real time. Digital asynchronous learners, who obtain their lessons online but complete their work outside of the regular school schedule, make up five per cent of the student enrollment. Asynchronous nondigital learners make up nine per cent of students. These students receive a package of bi-weekly printed materials that align with the classroom curriculum. The asynchronous models do not involve live instruction from classroom teachers as these models are forms of self study. Seventy-nine per cent of students are enrolled in the in-person classroom learning model.
The UCDSB has also received several requests to consult with different school districts about its remote learning model.