Board Meeting Highlights - November 23, 2021
Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week
Superintendent Marotta reported that the third week in November is dedicated to Bullying Prevention and Intervention. AMDSB engaged in a week-long series of student-led activities, announcements, and social media posts to build inclusive, welcoming spaces devoted to encouraging positive relationships and combatting bullying and cyberbullying. #BullyingAwarenessWeek #iAMwell.
Vice Chair Geddes reported that two manufacturing classes at St Marys DCVI made metal poppies for 40 local veterans and distributed them at the Remembrance Supper on November 11. Though based on a pattern, each one was unique. Teacher Chris Huber encouraged students to think about what the poppy means and how that could be reflected as they were making them. In addition, Communications Manager Chera Longston reported that Education Centre staff joined the Seaforth Public School virtual celebration, and highlighted the various ways that schools and staff commemorated this important day. The collage of photos below showcases some of the activities from schools across the board.
SDSS Students Advocate for Truth and Reconciliation
Trustee Bisutti reported that SDSS students took part in the Messages of Solidarity postcard campaign (through the Stratford Library), and wrote to their MPs about specific actions the government can take towards Truth and Reconciliation.
Students Partner With Local Conservation Authority to Plant Trees
Vice Chair Geddes was pleased to share that four area schools joined with the Upper Thames Conservation Authority and students helped plant hundreds of trees in Mitchell, St. Marys, and Stratford.
Our Schools in the News!
Trustee Rothwell highlighted the recent Our Schools in the News which is put together by the Communications team. The news feature showcases the variety of media articles that feature AMDSB schools and is published 4-5 times throughout the year on the AMDSB homepage and social media.
November PD Day Presentation by Shelley Moore
Superintendent Jeff Bruce reported that on the November 5 Professional Development Day, the Learning Services Department led professional learning focused on Inclusive Education. They welcomed Shelley Moore as a keynote speaker. Shelley is a researcher at the University of British Columbia and an expert in Inclusive Education. She connected the AMDSB journey in inclusive education to the components of the AMDSB Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity Plan. Following the keynote, Principals led staff through a new web-based resource (Inclusive Education Indicators website) which is designed to support the learning of educators as they deepen their inclusive practices.
Director's Work Plan Update (I Am Engaged)
Superintendents Morris and Marotta presented an update on the work related to the I Am Engaged pillar of the Strategic Plan. Superintendent Morris highlighted the work of the Leading Learning Department and their goal to measure and monitor attendance, staff and student perceptual feedback and credit accumulation rates in all AMDSB education structures: traditional school learning, AMRLS (synchronous and asynchronous), Connections, Riverside and Supervised Alternative Learning (SAL), with the goal of increased student engagement. Superintendent Marotta described the work of the Research Department specifically related to which reports and data are used across the system. She also described the International Education department's work to welcome international students despite the challenges presented by the pandemic.
Update from the Equity Steering Committee
Superintendent Creery and Equity Lead J.H. Burt presented how the work devoted to the first "Call to Action" of the AMDSB Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity Action Plan touches on the three areas of the Strategic Plan. The call to action is: Identify and eliminate all forms of systemic oppression and racism. This is supported by acknowledging and addressing anti-Black, Indigenous, Persons of Colour racism, and/or other forms of oppression and marginalization in our board.
Student Trustee Update
Student Trustee Elizabeth Benoit highlighted that the Student Senate has decided to fund a mural project in each school. The umbrella topic is "Equity" but the students creating the mural have the ability to create what that means to them. The Senate will provide wood, paints, brushes and other supplies for the painting. As a way to reach more students, each Senator has sent out an anonymous form to collect student concerns.
Senators have also collected feedback about the possible return to regular semesters in February (the decision regarding a return to 4 courses for second semester is pending. Senior Staff and HPPH staff will base the decision on the COVID-19 situation in our district). There is a 50/50 split between excited and not wanting the change. With the return of four classes, students are hoping for lockers so there will be less to carry around to each class (specifically textbooks), and they are excited because it symbolizes the return to normal life. Students also like the current model as they can spend more time in each class and feel they learn more. The downside of the current model is that if they miss a day for sports, an appointment, or are sick, it is harder to catch up. All of those who participated agreed that both systems are better than last year's quadmesters.
Trustee Committee Updates
Trustees participate in a variety of committees across the board. These reports represent a summary of the key work happening at those meetings.
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (Vice Chair Geddes)
- Working on an Annual Compliance Report that provides a progress update on the work happening across the district
Equity Steering Committee (Chair Hunking and Trustee Schenk)
- Discussed land acknowledgements and how they can better represent our unique situation.
- Discussed goals and norms for the committee and focused on changing the perspective on 'failure'.
- Marva Wisdom (AMDSB graduate) is supporting the work and acknowledges that Canadians are starting to understand and acknowledge racism.
Joint Health & Safety (Trustee Carmichael)
- Discussed the 'bring your own N95 mask' idea. They agreed that the current masks provided by the Ministry are sufficient protection.
Parent Involvement Committee (Trustees Rothwell and Bisutti)
- Parent Reaching Out (PRO) Grants are being distributed to 16 schools to support parent engagement.
- Director Walsh provided an update on back to school, working with Huron Perth Public Health and staff vaccination.
- System Principal Kathy Boyd provided an update on Mental Health and Well-being.
Special Education Advisory Committee (Vice Chair Geddes and Trustee Klassen)
- Summer reading programs were funded to provide additional support for young readers.
- Transition support guide was created to highlight community partners that support students with special education needs.
Senior Staff Updates
North Perth Boundary Review
Superintendent Carter reported that the call for members for the North Perth Boundary Review Committee (NPBRC) was very successful and the committee will be meeting on December 8. Local MPPs and Municipality staff are also being provided updates. Full details are posted on a page dedicated to the project.
Remote Learning Update
Superintendent Morris reported that the Avon Maitland Remote Learning School (AMRLS) is preparing for term/semester 2. They have sent a survey to current remote learning families asking if they are planning to continue or move back to their brick and mortar schools. The survey has also been sent to all AMDSB families to offer the chance to move to remote learning for term/semester 2.
Decision to Cancel Exams
Superintendent Creery described the decision to cancel exams for this school year and explained that it was based on the following:
- If we were to move to full online learning due to COVID-19, we would not be able to facilitate exams.
- For students in grades 11 and 12 who plan to go to university, teachers (using their professional judgement) can offer tests or mock scenarios to help those students prepare.
Student Success Days will be hosted at the mid- and end-points of each semester to ensure that all student learning needs are supported.
Approval of COVID-19 Vaccine for Ages 5 to 11
Director Walsh reported that a meeting was held with Huron Perth Public Health on Tuesday, November 23rd that discussed the recent approval of the COVID-19 vaccine for ages 5 to 11. Appointment bookings began Tuesday and can be found on the HPPH website.
Future Board Meetings
- December 7, 2021 – 4:30 p.m. Committee of the Whole, Closed Session, 5:30 p.m.
Student Advisory Committee, 6:00 p.m. Regular Board Session (Inaugural meeting)
Meetings will be hosted online using Microsoft Teams until further notice. Links to join the meetings will be posted on the Board Meeting page.
Future Meetings/Events with Trustee Representation
- Joint Health & Safety – Thursday, November 25 at 1:30 p.m.
- Pathways Advisory Committee – Thursday, November 25 at 7:00 p.m.
- Supervised Alternative Learning – Monday, November 29, and December 13 at 9:00 a.m.
- Special Education Advisory Committee – Wednesday, December 1 at 4:00 p.m.