Frequently Asked Questions Regarding School Closures

We know that our students, families and school communities have a lot of questions relating to the province-wide school closure. We created these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to help. Please note that this FAQ is a working resource and we will update it often as we learn more information. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time.

Impact on Learning and Graduation

Q: On what date will the school closures end?

A: On Tuesday, May 19, 2020, the Ontario Government announced that schools will remain closed under emergency order for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. Schools are expected to re-open as scheduled for the start of the 2020-21 school year.

Q: Will students be at risk of not graduating?

A: The school closures will not impact grade 8 or secondary school graduation.

The Ministry of Education has indicated that its intention is that no student will be at risk of not graduating due to school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic response.

The school closures will not impact any students progressing from one grade to another (i.e, students in Grade 8 will progress to Grade 9), nor be the reason why a student does not graduate from secondary school.

Q: Will this impact college and university applications?

A: As a result of further discussion and collaboration with Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC), marks for graduating students can be submitted by boards between April 23rd and May 1st. The ministry is continuing to collaborate with the college sector and will provide an update regarding marks to the Ontario College Application Service (OCAS) soon.

In determining mid-year marks for the admissions process, teachers may use evidence that reflects work completed prior to the school closure period, as well as provide opportunity for students to submit a missed and/or additional assignment to demonstrate their learning.  Marks should represent the most accurate reflection of student work, based on what is reasonable and in the best interest of students during this time.

The Ministry of Education is continuing to work with the post secondary sector, including OUAC and OCAS to support the admissions process and transition to post-secondary.

Q: Will the OSSLT scheduled for March 31 be cancelled/re-scheduled?

A: This Ministry of Education has announced that EQAO assessments, including the OSSLT, are cancelled for the remainder of the year. As a result, the literacy graduation requirement for any student who has not yet passed the literacy test will be waived for students graduating this year. Students who are not graduating this year will write the OSSLT in the upcoming school year.

Q: Will teachers continue to assign daily work via Google Classroom and/or D2L?

A: Students and parents can expect that teachers will be posting work to Google Classroom and using D2L. Teachers are being asked to continue to offer virtual instruction based on the Ontario Curriculum. It is the intent of the WCDSB that all students will be engaged in a productive way that focuses on their ongoing preparedness for their next grade.

Q: Will eLearning courses continue?

A: Yes, eLearning courses are set to continue.  WCDSB is expecting students to complete work and submit evidence of learning to D2L. We are expecting that teachers are providing descriptive feedback as work comes in.

Q: Will this impact mid-term marks?

A: Only grade 12 students will receive midterm marks for semester 2.  All secondary students will receive final marks and a report card.  The school closures will not negatively impact mid-term marks. Marks should represent the most accurate reflection of student work, based on what is reasonable and in the best interest of students during this time.  Our goal is to ensure that there is as little negative impact on students as possible and that students have the opportunity to show their best potential.

Q: Will secondary students still receive their mid-term marks in late April?

A: Only grade 12 students will receive midterm marks and those will be communicated to post-secondary institutions by the end of April.  No midterm marks will be issued for students in grades 9-11.

Q:  How will final grades in June be determined for elementary aged students?

A: In our K-8 grades, the learning and work completed from September to March 13th will inform final grades.  Students will receive regular formative assessment (feedback) during the school closure/distance learning delivery time period.  When in the best interest of students, we encourage teachers to include evidence of learning completed during the school closure period in their determination of final grades. Reporting on Learning Skills and Work Habits will also reflect information gathered prior to March 13th.

Q: Will Co-op placements continue during this time?

A: For students who are enrolled in Cooperative Education courses which involve a classroom component and a community placement component, their in-person community placements will need to be suspended. These students can work with their co-op teachers to modify their co-op Learning Plans so that they may work through the curriculum expectations. Where feasible, these learners should be provided with opportunities to connect virtually with industry partners on career exploration activities, and experiential learning opportunities.

Q: Should students in Dual Credit programs attend their college/university classes?

A: No, students in Dual Credit programs will not attend their college or university classes.

Q: How can I ensure the provisions of my child’s Individualized Education Progam (IEP) are being met?

A: Continued contact with your child’s Classroom Teacher and Special Education Teacher are imperative when ensuring the accommodations and program modifications on your child’s IEP continue to be implemented during the school closure.

Q: What impact will the school closure have on my child’s ability to achieve their  Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) “Red Seal”?

A: The SHSM program has an override request process already in place. Graduating students in the SHSM program unable to complete their SHSM requirements due to extenuating circumstances — including the impacts from COVID-19 — will be supported through the override request process.

Virtual certifications are available to SHSM students to complete during the shutdown period.

Q: My Grade 12 child will need to return to school in the Fall. When will Fall registrations be open?

A: Registration for any student wishing to return for an additional year of grade 12 will be available as of April 14th.  Students should contact their guidance counsellor.

Q: Will the Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue Française (DELF) happen on April 6 and 7th?

A: No, the DELF has been cancelled. Those who had planned to write the DELF in April will have the opportunity to write it at a later date. More information will be shared directly with those students.

Q: How will I complete my 40 volunteer hours required for graduating?

A: The graduation requirement to complete 40 hours of community involvement is suspended for this school year.  Community involvement hours that have been completed should be reported on the report cards of graduating students.  Graduating students should be encouraged to complete their hours wherever possible, where the health and safety of the student can be assured. Boards have been advised to encourage specific volunteer initiatives for students that support communities’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as letter-writing campaigns to seniors and/or other virtual volunteer opportunities.

Q: Will the school year be extended into the summer months?

A: At this time, we have not received direction from the Ministry of Education. The decision to extend the school year would be made by the Ministry. If we receive communication from the Ministry that this is their direction, we will immediately inform the WDCSB community. As of today, the school board is planning for the school year for both elementary and secondary schools to end as scheduled on Friday, June 26, 2020.

Q: Will students who are graduating this year still have a ceremony?

A: Graduation is a significant event in the lives of our students and their families. Unfortunately, under the current State of Emergency, the venues normally used for Secondary School graduation ceremonies are not available to the school board. Therefore, secondary graduation ceremonies have been postponed to the fall.  Information regarding Grade 8 graduations will follow as soon as possible.

Learning at Home

Q: Will students be provided with online learning opportunities during the closure?

A: Yes, students will be provided online learning opportunities by their teacher (teacher and early childhood educator in the case of kindergarten). The following are the Ministry guidelines regarding minimum hours of work in a week:

Grade Range Suggested hours of work per student per week (minimum guideline)
Suggested areas of curriculum focus (minimum)
K-Grade 3
  • 5 hours of work per student per week
  • Focus: Literacy and math
Grades 4-6
  • 5 hours of work per student per week
  • Focus: Literacy and math + science and social studies
Grades 7-8
  • 10 hours of work per student per week
  • Focus: Core math, literacy, science and social studies
Grades 9-12
  • 3 hours of work per course per week for semestered students; 1.5 hours of work per course per week for non-semestered students
  • Focus: Achieving credits/completion/graduation

 

Q: How are we communicating with students that do not have computer/internet access at home?

A: All students and families have received contact from their classroom teacher, asking whether they had a learning device at home and access to internet. This has helped us to better understand and determine our students’ learning needs.  We have distributed learning devices where the need was identified, and we are working on a plan to ensure all students have some access to internet.  (While we work on the final steps in relation to internet for all, work will come to students in hard copy or by phone) It is our goal to ensure equitable access to learning materials for all our students, each and every one.

Q: Will Home Hospital Instruction continue?

A: Yes. All Home Hospital Instruction will continue during the school shutdown.

Q: Is there any support WCDSB can direct towards families with students with special needs that don’t fall into a given school learning grade?

A: Families are encouraged to access the WCDSBLearn@Home portal where you will find a number of differentiated learning opportunities that will engage and meet the needs of our diverse learners.  The WCDSB is also working with our Child & Youth Care Workers and Educational Assistants alongside teachers to meet the needs of our  students with special learning needs. Please stay tuned for further updates.

Childcare and Before and After School Programs

Q: Are childcare centres located in WCDSB schools closed?

A: Yes. All third-party childcare centres (YMCA, OWL, etc.) located in our schools and WCDSB Before and After School programs are closed while schools are closed. There may be instances where the province and/or Region of Waterloo approves the operation of third-party childcare centres in our schools for the benefit of front-line health care workers. Information on these programs can be accessed through the Region of Waterloo’s website.

Q: Will I be charged for childcare during the closure?

A: Families enrolled in WCDSB operated Before and After School Programs will not be charged program fees during the closure. Please direct questions regarding billing to  Accounts.Payable@wcdsb.ca.  Families enrolled in third party childcare centres located in our schools should contact their provider directly for information regarding fees.

General Questions

Q: Are your staff still working?

A: Staff are available to support student learning and ensure business continuity.  Please contact staff by e-mail, or by telephone where applicable.  General inquiries can be sent to info@wcdsb.ca and voice messages can be left at 519-578-3660.

Q: Is Kindergarten registration still happening?

A: Yes. Several years ago, we established a very easy-to-use online pre-registration portal to make the registration process as convenient as possible. Parents of children scheduled to begin JK in September 2020, are encouraged to complete the pre-registration process as soon as possible. There will still need to be some in-person contact with the school, but that will be handled at an appropriate time after the COVID-19 crisis has passed. For non-Catholic families wishing to register in a WCDSB elementary school, your school Principal will reach out to you to complete the required interview process – again – at an appropriate time in in the most appropriate manner, including via phone.

Q: Can students access belongings in their lockers/desks?

A: Unfortunately, no. We are taking our direction from the various levels of government and Region of Waterloo Public Health. All schools are closed to the public at this time. You will have access to these items once schools re-open. If it is a health and safety matter, parents or guardians may contact the school administration and following public health protocols, we will facilitate the pick-up.  This will be rare and strictly for matters of health and safety.

Q: What is the status of planned school trips?

A: All school trips are cancelled for the remainder of the school year. Refunds have been and will continue to be issued if payments were made through School Cash Online.  Please contact your school for further information as needed.

Q: Are rental permits cancelled?

A: Yes, all rental permits are cancelled during the school closure.

Q: Can we still use outdoor recreation facilities at schools?

A: All WCDSB properties are closed, and students or family members should not be making use of these spaces. Please do not use basketball courts / nets / tracks / soccer fields / play structures or any other part of our properties. Region of Waterloo Public Health has continued to encourage physical distancing.  As per the direction from Public Health, the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada, if families are self-isolating they should not be out of the home at all.

Q: I am a WCDSB vendor.  How can I have an invoice paid?

A: Please forward any inquiries to Accounts.Receivable@wcdsb.ca with a copy to your school board contact, where applicable.

Q: How can I report a facility-related issue?

A: For emergencies, please call 519-578-3660 x 5555 at any time.  For non-urgent issues, please send an email to facilities@wcdsb.ca.

Q: Are Board of Trustees meetings continuing?

A: Yes.  Board meetings are being conducted electronically. Please go to our website for more details, agendas, and viewing information.