Distance Learning and Support Plan
Distance Learning and Support Plan
A Community That Accompanies
Information for Families and Staff
While schools remain closed to students to help limit the spread of COVID-19, it is important to us that student learning continues. We know this is top-of-mind for families and educators, as is every child/teen’s safety and well-being.
Since school closures were announced, students have had the opportunity to engage in independent, optional learning using the Ministry of Education’s Learn at Home portal, TVO/TFO, or the board’s online supplementary learning resources.
As the closures continue, the Wellington Catholic District School Board is moving toward re-engaging all students in learning, beginning the week of April 6, 2020. This new way of learning from home will be led by our educators and will cover the curriculum required for students to be successful in each grade level.
This document is aligned with the Ministry of Education’s Learn at Home strategy and outlines how educators will support student learning remotely to help prepare them for the next step in their education journey. This plan will be updated as we learn and continue to explore this new method of learning.
Please keep in mind that there will likely be some new challenges along the way as we all adjust to our new circumstances. In the same way that students and families will need time to adjust to the new learning environment, so will our staff. We are committed to supporting every learner and will do so while keeping students and families informed. We ask for your understanding, support and partnership as we move forward with the best of intentions.
Learning Continues During School Closures
While schools remain closed to help limit the spread of COVID-19, all students will engage in distance learning, beginning the week of April 6, 2020.
As you know, the Ministry of Education has directed school boards to offer distance teaching and learning for all students. As such, there is an expectation that students will participate, with the support of their teachers, to the best of their abilities. In some cases, students will not be able to participate in an online environment, and in those cases teachers will reach out to families directly or families can follow up with their child’s teacher and/or principal.
While initial instruction may be conducted online, students aren’t expected to be tied to a device for all their learning. Our goal is to encourage students to read, communicate and engage in authentic learning experiences while continuing to be physically active and mentally well.
Distance learning is flexible and:
- can be done at any point in the day
- allows for student voice and choice
- does not always require online access
- can be done with minimal adult support
Planning for Student Success at a Distance
Your child’s teacher has been busy developing a plan for distance learning specifically for their class(es). During the weeks of March 23 and 30, 2020, teachers connected with students/families by email or phone to check in and to determine families’ technology needs.
Keeping what they learned in mind, teachers will determine the best method to conduct distance learning with their class, while nurturing inclusive, safe, positive and accessible learning environments. Our instruction will include learning opportunities that are flexible, engage student voice and choice, and focus on assessment that drives learning forward, regardless of their at-home learning environment. And, above all else, we will always keep students’ well-being top of mind.
To prepare for the re-start of instruction on April 6, teachers will develop learning plans that:
- adhere to the number of weekly hours established by the Ministry of Education
- focus on the remaining overall curriculum expectations
- engage students in two-way communication and responds to issues that may arise
- include opportunities for assessment for, of and as learning, as well as opportunities for students to reflect on their learning, practice and get feedback
- identify how home/school communication will be maintained with families
- account for students requiring additional support, including English Language Learners and those with Special Education needs
Beginning April 6, distance learning will begin with initial learning activities, with careful consideration of accommodations required for students.
Responsibilities During Distance Learning
During distance learning, students will be required to shift and create habits of success in their new learning environment. Your child’s teacher will help with this and will communicate clear expectations for students. Students, in consultation with their parent(s)/guardian(s), and to the greatest extent possible given their individual circumstances, should:
- Establish daily routines for engaging in learning experiences (e.g. start at 8:30 a.m. each day)
- If possible, identify a comfortable, quiet space in your home where you can work effectively and successfully.
- Monitor the established lines of communication with your teacher(s), to check for announcements and feedback.
- Check your MyWellingtonStudent email regularly
- Do your best work by completing assignments with integrity and academic
- Do your best to meet timelines, commitments and due
- Communicate proactively with your teacher(s) if you cannot meet deadlines or require additional support.
- Adhere to the School Code of Conduct. Failure to comply with expectations may result in removal from certain access to online learning and, in extreme cases, additional consequences.
- Comply with the Board’s Policies and Procedures including the Appropriate Use of Information Technologies Policy.
Despite the ever-changing landscape in education due to COVID-19, the board remains committed to enabling all students to reach their potential and to succeed. All staff are central to ensuring this occurs and in meeting this challenge. The team of educators includes our EAs, ECEs, Librarians and administration augmented by the support of specialized support staff, and other board employee groups.
The transition to distance learning may not be simple or easy for everyone. In the coming weeks, we know you will continue to love and provide incredible support to your child(ren), while managing a number of stressors. We want you to know that we do not intend to place additional burden on our families. We know that many parents are caring for elderly parents and young children, and many are still working during the day. To be clear, there is no expectation that students will need to be online during a specific hour(s) of the day - they can be engaged in learning at any point in the day.
Also, learning activities will be assigned with careful consideration of grade-level and accommodations that may be required for students. We know parents want to be there to guide their children through distance learning, but they should be able to complete their work with minimal adult support. If you have concerns, please contact your child/teen’s teacher(s).
As we move forward with distance learning, we ask for your continued support as we navigate uncharted waters and explore innovative ways to engage parents/guardians at home. As always, as a key stakeholder in your child’s development, your engagement with your child can play a crucial role during this time. To help families transition to at-home learning, we encourage you to consider Tips for parents.
Teaching and Learning Methods
As much as possible, teachers will engage students using tools that students are already familiar with, such as Brightspace (D2L) and Google or another tool students were using before March Break. Most of these tools will be accessible through myWellingtonStudent.
Breakdown by Grade
Timeframe for learning*
Method of instruction
Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting
Kindergarten to Grade 3
Literacy, Math and Religion and Family Life
Five hours of work per student/week
Teachers will provide links to materials or share materials directly using their chosen platform.
Resources vary by class and lesson, but will include links to videos, graphic organizers, texts/reading material, and WCDSB-supported databases.
In cases where online learning is not possible, arrangements will be made to offer a different method of instruction.
Final marks will be entered in June 2020. Marks will reflect work completed from September to March 13. Assessments completed from now until June can be used to improve marks. Final grades will improve if students demonstrate further evidence of achievement of expectations.
Reporting on Learning Skills and Work Habits should also reflect information gathers prior to March 13th.
Grade 4 to 6
Literacy, Math, Science and Social Studies, and Religion and Family Life
Five hours of work per student/week
Grade 7 to 8
Math, Literacy, Science and Social Studies, and Religion and Family Life
Ten hours of work per student/week
Grade 9 to 12
Focus on achieving credits and graduation
Three hours of work per course per week for semestered students
1.5 hours of work per course per week for
Final marks will be entered in June, and will be based on work completed until March 13, and after April 6. Summative and culminating tasks can be used for these final marks. Work on summative and culminating tasks will be assessed with a focus on improving student grades, given that distance learning is not conducive to learning for all. Again, the intention is not to lower grades.
Reporting on Learning Skills and Work Habits should reflect information gathered prior to March 13th.
*These hours refer to the approximate amount of time that students will spend on the work assigned by teachers.
Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting
Recognizing that these are not normal times, we do not expect that all students will be equitably well-positioned to learn from home. Some have limited access to technology. Others may have less support from family because their parents are essential workers. And others may be struggling in other areas. We recognize these challenges and our goal is to support every learner, not to penalize them for the circumstances that they find themselves in.
The Ministry of Education acknowledges that Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting in Ontario Schools, 2010 is the province's assessment, evaluation and reporting policy and in recognition of current circumstances, elements of this policy have been adjusted to support educators and students. The Ministry of Education has provided clear direction for the assessment, reporting and evaluation of all students during school closures. Again, their overall message is consistent with ours: for all grades, students should not be penalized due to the move to distance learning and that educators must understand the extremely difficult circumstances in which many of our families find themselves.
Student's marks will reflect work completed up until March 13, 2020. Assessment and evaluation from April 6, 2020, onward is intended to help students improve. Marks will only improve if students demonstrate further achievement of the expectations. The intention is not to lower grades.
Our expectation, and the Ministry's expectation, is that students will do their best to complete all assigned work. As always, students and families should connect with their teachers if they have questions about assessment and evaluation.
- Grade 12 students - Mid-term marks will be entered for grade 12 students only by April 23, 2020, to meet the deadline to report grades to the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC) and the Ontario College Application Service (OCAS). Marks will reflect work completed up until March 13, 2020. However, formative assessments done now, under distance learning conditions, can be used to improve marks should students demonstrate further achievement of expectations.
- Grade 9, 10, 11, 12 students - Final marks will be entered in June and will be based on work completed until March 13, 2020, prior to the school closure, and after April 6, 2020 (Phase 2 of Learn at Home). Summative and culminating tasks can be used for these final marks. Work on summative and culminating tasks will be assessed with a focus on improving student grades, given that distance learning is not an environment that is conducive to learning for all. Again, the intention is not to lower grades.
- Final marks will be entered in June 2020. Marks will reflect work completed from September 2019 to March 13, 2020. K- 8 assessment will focus on formative feedback to support next steps in continuous learning.
- Progress in learning during Phase 2 of Learn at Home will be considered as part of the final report card. Again, the intention is not to lower grades.
As per the Ministry of Education’s direction, all school boards will issue final report cards, including the Kindergarten of Communication of Learning for all students. Midterm reports will be issued for graduating (grade 12) students only.
Graduating (Grade 12) Students
The Ministry of Education has made it clear that grade 12 students will not have their graduation or progression impacted by the developments surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, one of our key priorities will be to support students who are scheduled to graduate this year. Any student who is on track to graduate will be supported to graduate.
Teachers of graduating students will provide marks for graduating students by April 23, 2020 on work completed by that time, in order to meet admission requirements for post-secondary education. Final report cards with marks will also be issued. The ministry is currently in discussions with colleges and universities about the adaptations required to support the admission process for students applying for post-secondary education and to ensure no student’s graduation or transition to post-secondary is jeopardized as a result of the school closure period.
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.
Student Online Privacy
Technology offers many opportunities to keep connected and we are here to help you navigate risks and follow best practices. This fact sheet can be used to support students and their families in transitioning to studying at home. Board policies and procedures, including those governing privacy and cyber security, continue to apply.
Access to Technology and Wi-Fi
We recognize that some families do not have access to devices or Wi-Fi that are necessary for distance learning. To help remove these barriers to teaching and learning, the Board has developed a plan to provide these tools to as many families as possible who need it.
Our priority is the distribution of devices to families the week of April 6. We will make every effort to have devices distributed to families as soon as possible, while also observing public health direction. Our distribution plan will be shared with administrators, staff and families who are directly affected.
We also understand that a number of students don’t have reliable or affordable access to Wi-Fi. The province is currently working with telecommunication companies to source internet and Wi-Fi connections and we are exploring local solutions. We are also exploring ways to meet the learning needs of students who live in areas where Internet connectivity is an issue. Again, students will not be penalized for this lack of access to online learning. More information will be provided to those who are impacted.
Resources for Students with Special Education Needs
Our Student Support Services Department continues to develop strategies and supports for students with special education needs and their families. Our priority is to respect the greatest needs of each of our families and work together to support those needs. While focus for students will be in the areas of Literacy, Mathematics and Daily Living it is our priority to connect with families, understand their needs and do what we can to support them.
We encourage parents to reach out to their child’s teacher and special education teachers to ensure that supports and programming continue during the school closure. You can learn more about our special education programs and services on our board’s website. Continue to check back as we update online resources for students and their families.
IEPs, Case Conferences, IPRCs
Teachers will honour Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). Lesson plans will continue to account for students who require additional support, accommodations and modifications based on their Special Education identifications.
Information will be shared with schools regarding Case Conferences and Identification, Placement and Review Committees (IPRCs) and details will be shared with families who need the information.
We expect to distribute Special Equipment Amount (SEA) equipment the week of April 6. Details will be provided to relevant families and equipment will be distributed in a way that it is safe and aligned with public health direction.
English as a Second Language Learners
When planning for an online learning environment, teachers can help English Language Learners leverage their many assets and skills by considering the language (oral, reading, speaking) and content demands in all curricular areas. Students in English as a Second Language (ESL) and English Literacy Development (ELD) programs will continue to be supported by their teachers throughout the closure.
For students who are enrolled in Co-operative (Co-op) Education courses that involve a classroom component and a community placement component, the in-person community placements will be suspended. Co-op teachers will look into replacing on-the-job components of the course with work that can be completed online or through distance learning. Teachers will be in touch with students directly.
SHSM & OYAP
Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) and Ontario Youth Apprentice Program (OYAP) are continuing and teachers will be in touch with students directly.
We have been engaging our partners in post-secondary institutions. Dual Credit teachers will continue to support program delivery from the colleges on a digital platform. Information about Dual Credit will be sent directly to students engaged in this program.
Existing eLearning Courses
eLearning has re-commenced for students in these courses.
Mental Health Resources
During these challenging times, it's normal to feel anxious and worried. Students may also be feeling a range of emotions and be struggling with time away from school and friends, or a lack of understanding about COVID-19 and the reasons for school closures. Staff and parents/guardians may also be experiencing increased levels of stress and uncertainty at this time. Resources are available HERE.
Last Updated - April 4, 2020