It may be summer, but here at the TDSB we are already well into planning for the 2021-2022 school year. Although it is always exciting to prepare for a new school year, this summer already feels particularly so.
When schools opened last September, the pandemic was in full swing, and it’s fair to say most educators felt a certain amount of apprehension. Conversely, this coming year feels full of hope. As I write, case counts this summer have been low, vaccine uptake is high, and children 12 and up are eligible for vaccines at an accelerated pace. Our hope is that we will be able to provide a more normal school year, with the vast majority of students back to in-person learning.
So, what will this more normal school year look like? While we continue to wait for more specific updates and direction from the Ministry of Education, we have been told that high school students will be permitted to join up to two cohorts, with a 48-hour break required between cohort changes.
As a result, quadmesters will become a thing of the past, and high school students will be able to follow a modified semester schedule. With lots of support from students, and a campaign spearheaded by local Leaside resident and parent Tammy Doane, TDSB trustees such as myself felt comfortable advocating at the Board level and to the Minister of Education for a return to traditional semesters in September should Toronto Public Health deem it safe to do so.
Perhaps, just as important, is the expected resumption of extra curriculars. Education Minister Lecce recently promised a return to “safe” extra curriculars. To that end, we are hoping to be allowed to include these vital aspects of our children’s education as a part of the more normal start to the 2021-2022 school year. At this time, we still await direction regarding elementary and middle school routines.
With respect to the Board itself, we are also excited to start the school year with a new (and permanent) Director of Education, Colleen Russell-Rawlins. Ms. Russell-Rawlins is no stranger to the TDSB, having been a student, teacher, principal, superintendent and Associate Director in our Board before assuming her appointment as Interim Director at the Peel District School Board just over a year ago. The entire Board of Trustees was thrilled to secure Ms. Russell -Rawlins for a five-year term as our new Director of Education. Her depth of experience and dedication to student achievement, equity, and parent and community engagement are unparalleled, and we can’t wait for her to begin her term with us in August!
As we emerge from the pandemic, we know we are in a strong and stable position under her leadership. And while we look forward to September, I do hope students, families and staff are finding time this summer to relax, recuperate and have some well-deserved fun, so that all are ready for a happy, healthy and productive 2021-2022 school year!