Updates for Families
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
To All KPR Families,
As this school year gradually draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on latest news with profound sadness. As you likely are aware, four members of a Muslim family were killed on Sunday in London, Ontario, and another seriously injured, when they were deliberately struck by a speeding truck. The family, ranging in age from 9 to 74, was simply out for an evening walk at the time.
London Police have stated this horrific event was an intentional, “hate-motivated” killing; the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith. We extend our sincere sympathy, thoughts and prayers to the victims, family and community members affected by this senseless act of violence.
Tragic events such as these also cause us, as educators, to ask ourselves how we can continue to confront Islamophobia and hate. How can we educate students to ensure our schools and communities remain safe places to learn and to live, regardless of one’s ethnicity or faith?
We also are conscious of supporting students and families in their grief. We must reassure students that acts such as these are rare, and that schools are safe places to receive support, a calm environment and connection to caring adults and peers. Please contact your principal or vice-principal if you wish to access assistance from our mental health professionals for your child or teen. Resources also are available on our website.
With this update, I also wanted to share with you some important KPR News related to graduations and end-of-year matters. Regrettably, in consideration of ongoing health measures and after discussion with our local public health units, we will not be able to hold in-person graduation ceremonies at our schools this June.
Graduations are momentous milestones, and we regret that we are unable to provide the opportunities we wish for all students. With ongoing vaccinations, we hope to return in September to all the rich and varied experiences that make education memorable.
For further information, please see KPR News below.
Rita Russo, Director of Education
Graduations and year-end activities
Last week, the provincial government announced school boards may consider limited, outdoor end-of-year events. Based on ongoing public health restrictions, however, schools have spent months planning and creating meaningful virtual graduation ceremonies. Given the ongoing health directives and the risks posed by large gatherings, we remain concerned for the safety of students, families and staff. We also know from experience that it simply is not possible to organize large, in-person events in the last couple of weeks of school.
In light of the safety concerns for students, staff and community, we are regretfully confirming that:
- all Grade 12 graduation ceremonies in KPR remain postponed until Fall 2021
- elementary schools will celebrate Grade 8 graduations and Grade 6 leaving ceremonies virtually in June.
We also recognize that schools must arrange for students to be able to pick up any belongings left behind, and to drop off electronic devices and materials. Principals will be scheduling different times for students to come and pick up their belongings, on either Monday, June 28 or Tuesday, June 29 in most cases. Where possible, schools may arrange that process, by grade or cohort, so that students can have an outdoor opportunity to say goodbye to staff and classmates as an end-of-the-year farewell.
Please watch for details from your school regarding graduation or school leaving ceremonies, and for pick-up of your child’s or teen’s belongings from school.
Ontarians aged 12-17 are now able to book an appointment for a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Details on booking vaccinations in our public health regions, including updated information on youth only clinics are available here.
The government also has a dedicated webpage on booking and preparing for vaccination appointments. It outlines the province’s plan for youth vaccinations, answers questions about safety and effectiveness, and provides links to external sites for more information.
June 8, 2021
To the KPR Community,
As you may have heard, on Sunday evening in London, Ontario, four members of a Muslim family were killed, and another seriously injured, while out for an evening walk. Ranging in age from a 9-year-old-boy and 15-year-old girl, to a 74-year-old woman, this family was struck by a speeding truck while they waited to cross the street, in what police have described as a “hate-motivated” killing.
Police have indicated that this horrific act was intentional and that the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith.
Our sincere thoughts and prayers are extended to the victims and family members so tragically affected by this deeply shocking act of violence. We also need to be conscious of supporting our students, with special attention and care for the Muslim students and families in our schools and communities, in their sorrow and grief.
We know that community tragedies can be deeply upsetting for both staff and students. Please be mindful to reassure students that acts such as these are rare, that schools are safe places, and an important place for them to receive support, a calm environment and connection to caring adults and peers. Trauma supports and resources are always available through our Special Education, Professional Services department here: https://www.kprschools.ca/en/students/well-being/mentalhealth.html.
Violent events such as these also cause us to ask ourselves, as educators, how can we continue to confront Islamophobia and hate? How can we educate to ensure our schools and communities continue to be safe places to learn and to live regardless of one’s ethnicity or faith?
It is incumbent upon all of us to condemn not only these senseless acts of violence, but also the attitudes, words, and actions that push people apart rather than those that emphasize our common humanity.
Once again, our hearts go out to the survivors, families, and friends of the victims of this appalling crime.
Rita Russo, Director of Education
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
To All KPR Families:
This update is being sent to you to address two important matters: today’s announcement by the provincial government regarding schools remaining closed for the rest of the school year, and what we know remains in all our thoughts this week: the 215 children whose lives were taken at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia.
Provincial Announcement – Remainder of School Year
Today, the provincial government announced that students will not be returning to in-person learning for the rest of the school year. As a result, elementary and secondary students will continue with virtual learning only, for the rest of June. Daily schedules and learning modes, including existing in-person special education programming, will continue as they are now.
This announcement will be disappointing to many students and families, and we know that supporting students with learning at home is difficult. We sincerely thank our families for their hard work and dedication in supporting our students, and we remain hopeful that the continued roll-out of vaccines within our communities will bring brighter days in the new school year.
While we appreciate the necessity of virtual learning for our students as a public health measure, we remain mindful of the impacts of school closures on our children’s physical health, developmental health, mental health and learning. If you are concerned about your child’s or teen’s mental health, please contact your principal or vice-principal to access support from KPR’s mental health clinicians. I also encourage you to take advantage of the wealth of links and resources available at Mental Health Resources (kprschools.ca)
The premier also stated today that school boards will be able to hold short, outdoor graduation celebrations where physical distancing is possible. We will await and review any further information coming from the province, and consult with our four local health units, to determine our next steps with respect to this announcement. We will share information with you as soon as it is confirmed.
We also will share details, as they become available, on the collection of student belongings in June and on arrangements for the next school year.
Tragedy at Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia
As parents and caregivers, I know you share our deep sorrow for the 215 children whose lives were taken at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia. While our thoughts and hearts are with the people of the Tk’emlups te Secwepmc First Nation as they prepare their community for the return of their lost children, we are also very mindful that survivors of the Residential School System, and those impacted by the generational trauma imposed by that system, walk alongside us and among us.
We have been conscious of supporting our students, with special care and attention to Indigenous students, staff and families within the KPR community, in their grief at this time, and in the trauma that continued discoveries such as this may generate. To that end, we have shared culturally relevant, local and national learning resources and supports, for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, directly with all staff. These resources continue to be available through the main carousel banner of our board website at www.kprschools.ca
This tragedy serves as a difficult reminder of the impact of the residential school system and the thousands of children whose lives were lost and whose families were broken. Regrettably, this is but one story in the continuing narrative of the horrible implications and generational harm of the Canadian Residential School System. This discovery, like so many others, is the mandate for action towards Reconciliation. As Canadians, and as an education system, we have a role to play – today and every day – to educate ourselves and others in raising awareness of the tragic history and creation of the residential school system and its ongoing legacy.
As part of that commitment, we encourage everyone in our communities to use the empathy and grief in these moments to become informed agents of change. Information and resources are available from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) and through grade appropriate Canadian Residential School System teacher resources, supported by www.orangeshirtday.org.
Thank you for your continued support and caring for our students, staff and communities.
Friday, May 28, 2021
To All KPR Families,
What a pleasure it was to enjoy a long weekend filled with beautiful weather! I hope you had a relaxing, refreshing break before returning to what was, for most of us, a shorter work week. Today’s reminder of winter weather was a bit of a shock and I sure hope it passes soon!
You may have heard reports that the government would be announcing a date “very soon” for students’ return to in-person learning. While we are aware of these reports, we have not received any information from the Ministry of Education on a date for schools to reopen.
When provincial education and health authorities direct schools to reopen, KPR will be ready and able to do so; however, we have not received any information to that effect. As soon as we receive news on the matter, we will share it with everyone.
In the month of June we celebrate National Indigenous History Month and Pride Month. Both support our core belief that all students and staff need to feel a sense of belonging in our schools and workplaces. All individuals must be treated with respect and dignity and celebrated for the unique and intersecting identities that make them who they are. All are welcome here.
KPR is fortunate to serve students from Alderville, Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nations, as well as individuals from other Indigenous communities. We work with Indigenous partners to support Indigenous student achievement and well-being, and to increase all students’ understanding of First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples’ perspectives and contributions. We also strive to ensure Indigenous students and staff see themselves mirrored in their learning resources and working environments.
In addition, all KPR schools will fly the Pride flag in June, to recognize Pride Month. Schools also have the option of flying the Pride flag at other times of the year to demonstrate that ALL students and staff are welcome here. The Pride flag is a universal symbol of acceptance, hope and diversity, and we are proud to fly it. There is no place for hate at KPR.
In addition, two important updates included in the KPR News section are related to student vaccination and the secondary school instructional model of quadmesters for next year. Please see the details on these two items below.
In closing, I applaud students and staff participating this week in the 2021 Environmental Symposium. We work with the local Catholic school board to host this two-day event on the theme of Inspiring Hope. Many students in more than 200 classes joined community partners in engaging, reflective activities centered on the land. We thank everyone involved for exploring and encouraging positive environmental action and appreciation of the land.
Please continue to take care of yourselves and one another.
Rita Russo, Director of Education
Youth Vaccinations For 12 and Up
Health Canada has authorized use of the Pfizer vaccine for ages 12 and up. Ontarians aged 12-17 are now able to book an appointment for a first dose of the vaccine. Some local health units also will hold special “youth and families” clinics. Details on booking vaccinations in our public health regions are available here.
To help you make informed decisions, the province has developed the attached fact sheet, based on expert medical advice and scientific data. It covers key areas including vaccine safety and effectiveness for youth, and the importance of vaccination.
The government also has a dedicated webpage outlining how to book and prepare for a vaccination appointment. It outlines the province’s plan for youth vaccinations, answers questions about safety and effectiveness, and provides links to external sites for more information.
Secondary Quadmesters in 2021-22
The quadmester system will continue in KPR high schools for the coming school year, as directed by the Ministry of Education, to limit the number of student-to-student contacts.
The 2021-22 school year will be divided into four quadmesters, with high school students taking two courses at a time: one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. This differs from the current quadmester model, which has students taking each of two courses one week at a time, on alternating weeks. The change to two classes a day follows consultation with students and staff.
This schedule will apply to all KPR high schools, including the Virtual High School. If required by public health officials to further reduce student contacts, schools will be able to adapt this model, or even pivot to other modes of learning.
The Ministry of Education will communicate further with school boards in the summer regarding back-to-school safety measures such as masking, handwashing, cohorting for school clubs and extra-curricular activities, and screening. KPR will share any further direction received from the province with students, families and staff, as soon as possible.
Friday, May 21, 2021
To All KPR Families,
It’s easier to feel optimistic as this week’s summer-like days lead us to a much-needed long weekend. It also is heartening to hear that the incidence of COVID-19 in Ontario is slowly moving downward, while the number of vaccinated Ontarians continues to rise.
Throughout these days, we do miss the energy and smiles of our students in schools, and the question of when schools can reopen for in-person learning remains top-of-mind for all of us. Like you, we are anxiously awaiting word from the provincial government as to when we can return safely to our school buildings. The province has not given us a reopening date as yet. We certainly look forward to the day when we can once again experience the joyful “noise” of a busy school.
In the meantime, we look forward to recognizing National AccessAbility Week, May 30-June 5. National AccessAbility Week (NAAW) offers us the opportunity to celebrate the valuable contributions of Canadians with disabilities, and to recognize the efforts of those actively involved in removing barriers to accessibility and inclusion.
As a public education system, we are truly fortunate to be able to serve students of all abilities. We all benefit from a society that makes inclusion a priority. When all Canadians can participate fully in all aspects of society and share their unique perspectives, experiences and abilities, we learn a great deal from one another, and our lives are enriched. Whether individuals’ disabilities are visible or invisible, everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, respect and inclusion.
Finally, it gives me great pleasure to conclude this update with some exciting news. Early this morning, we learned the following four KPR students helped our region to win an unprecedented number of awards at the virtual Canada-Wide Science Fair, including the top overall prize:
- Calvin Karthik, a Grade 9 student at Kenner Collegiate, took home four major medals including Best Project Award – the top prize of the entire Canada-Wide Science Fair; you can see his project at https://projectboard.world/ysc/project/a-mighty-mushroom-and-the-power-of-poop-testing-biogas-production-using-spent-mushroom-substrate-eoxgn
- Shaun Plassery, also from Kenner, earned three major awards for the following project: https://projectboard.world/ysc/project/phytoremediation-of-crude-oil-effect-of-rhizobium-and-kelp-on-soybean-wheat-under-oil-stress-v2
- Rowan Sutcliffe Dummitt, from Adam Scott Intermediate School, won a silver medal for https://projectboard.world/ysc/project/impact-of-covid-19-public-health-messaging-techniques-on-adolescents-nqzrm
- Jessica Livingstone, of East Northumberland Secondary School, received two major awards for https://projectboard.world/ysc/project/a-mountain-of-technofossils-is-this-the-hill-we-want-to-die-on-wmrxe
Calvin’s win means he will compete and represent Canada at the virtual European Union Contest for Young Scientists to be hosted in Spain this September. I offer my sincere congratulations to all of the students, and to the staff and family members who supported them in their educational journey.
I hope you have a wonderful Victoria Day weekend, as we all continue to follow the advice of our public health officials. Please stay safe and stay well as you enjoy the sunshine.
Rita Russo, Director of Education
Summer School, Summer Start!
A quick reminder: registration is open for KPR’s Summer School and Summer Start! Programs, which will run July 5-30. Both programs will be offered through eLearning, with face-to-face learning as an option if approved by public health. To see a list of available summer school courses for Grades 9-12 and to register for summer school, please visit Summer School (kprschools.ca) . Final course offerings will depend on enrolment.
Summer Start! serves students entering Grade 9. It focuses on literacy, math, organizational and interpersonal skills, and includes building a Muskoka chair in a high school wood shop. Participating students earn a high school credit. Registration and information are available at Summer School (kprschools.ca)
Please check the summer school web page often, as any provincial announcements could affect summer programs.
Mentorship Program for Black, Indigenous Students
York University’s Schulich School of Business is introducing a new, virtual summer business education/mentorship program for Black and Indigenous students in Grades 10 and up. The program will introduce students to the many career paths available, support students in strengthening their “soft skills”, and empower students along their education journeys. Registration closes this Sunday, May 23, at https://schulich.tfaforms.net/42 . For further information, please visit https://schulich.yorku.ca/future-students/business-excellence-academy/
Friday, May 14, 2021
To All KPR Families,
Throughout Canada, the month of May honours several groups whose contributions have helped to build the strong, welcoming place we call home.
Jewish Heritage Month and Asian Heritage Month recognize the pivotal roles Asian Canadians and Jewish Canadians have played in our communities, nationwide and globally. Not only does the month spotlight their outstanding contributions and achievements, it also celebrates the strength, perseverance and diversity that Canada represents.
KPR also recognizes the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on Monday, May 17. The day was created in 2004 to draw attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex people and all others with gender and sexual diversities.
All three observances are an important reminder that we all must stand together in opposing hate.
Educators and families can access resources online at Asian Heritage Month - Canada.ca , Jewish Heritage Month | FSWC (friendsofsimonwiesenthalcenter.com) , and What is May 17? ~ May17.org . These sites offer information on steps we all can take to fight hate and honour the dignity and humanity of all. The following advice, in particular, resonates with me:
- Learn about the unique identities and peoples who have enriched Canadian society.
- Challenge stereotypes and consider how they are rooted in hate and oppression.
- Be an ally by calling out acts of racism, discrimination and micro aggression, and actively support those victimized by hate.
- Interrupt unconscious biases and honestly reflect upon how they can affect our own behaviour.
I offer sincere thanks to all members of the diverse communities that make up KPR for their rich contributions to our schools and to our lives.
We do not know yet when students and staff will be able to return to school in person. We do know, however, that we miss all of you! On Thursday, the premier announced the current stay-at-home order will continue until at least June 2, and online learning will continue for elementary and secondary schools. As soon as we hear further from the province, we will let you know.
We were pleased to hear that, starting the week of May 31, youth aged 12-17 and their family members who have not been vaccinated will be eligible to book appointments for their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. We will be working with our local health units to confirm details locally, and will share those details as well.
In the meantime, enjoy the sunshine, take good care of yourselves and one another.
Rita Russo, Director of Education
We know many people are anxious for news on graduations. Due to continuing public health directives and physical distancing, all Grade 12 graduation ceremonies in KPR have been postponed until fall 2021. We know that graduations are momentous occasions, and secondary principals will provide details about each school’s events to their school communities in the fall.
Elementary schools will celebrate Grade 8 graduations and Grade 6 leaving ceremonies virtually in June, based on health directives. Watch for details from your school.
We understand this may be disappointing news. We hope that, with ongoing vaccinations, we will soon be able to return to the rich and varied experiences that make education memorable.
Virtual Skilled Trades Event
Don’t forget about Build a Dream Trades Week May 19 and 20, when you can learn about skilled trades, OYAP (Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program) and pre-apprenticeship options available in high school. The free, online event for Grades 9-12 students will run from 6-8:30 p.m. both evenings. For information and registration, please visit https://bit.ly/3eI6vnC . You will need to enter the password TheFutureIsTrades.
Finally, we want everyone in the KPR family to be aware of the 211 phone service available in KPR and throughout Canada. This free, confidential service connects residents to government, health, community and social services available in their communities. Whether you need help finding food, housing, financial assistance, mental health support and more, dialing 211 will connect you to the services you need. 211 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in more than 150 languages. You can dial or text 211, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.211ontario.ca
Provincial Covid-19 Update
UPDATED SYMPTOM SCREENING
The Chief Medical Officer of Health has updated the provincial school screening criteria. Students and staff with new or worsening symptoms of COVID-19, as outlined in the school and child care screening tool, even those with only one symptom, must stay home until:
· they receive a negative COVID-19 test result,
· they receive an alternative diagnosis from a health care professional, or
· it has been 10 days since their symptoms began and they are feeling better.
The provincial school screening tool has been updated to reflect these changes, at https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/
NEW QUARANTINE REQUIREMENTS
The Ministry of Health has also issued new guidance for schools and child cares that requires all household contacts of individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 to quarantine until the symptomatic household member:
· receives a negative COVID-19 test result, or
· receives an alternative diagnosis by a health care professional
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
This means that if a child OR an adult has symptoms of COVID-19, all other adults and children who live in the same household must quarantine and remain home from school or child care until the person with symptoms receives either a negative COVID-19 test result, or an alternative diagnosis.
If the symptomatic individual tests positive, or is not tested and does not receive an alternative diagnosis from a health care professional:
· the symptomatic individual must isolate (including from other household members) for 10 days from the start of symptoms, and
· all members of the same household must isolate for 14 days from their last contact with the symptomatic individual.
We recognize that these are significant provincial changes and we thank you for your continued partnership in keeping our students and staff safe. Schools will support students with materials to continue learning from home during any extended periods of absence.
We continue to work closely with local public health agencies to address this evolving situation. For more information about COVID response in our communities, please visit your local Public Health website:
Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit
Peterborough Public Health
Durham Public Health
Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Health Unit