Monday, Sept 21, we welcomed Dr. Clara Howitt, Superintendent of Education, to discuss the Re-Introduction of Classroom Education.

She started by setting the scene for what teachers and students experienced during the unexpected closure in March. While on track to her family vacation, Dr. Howitt learned of the news and returned early to help provide families with continuity of learning. She explained how students had been accustomed to daily instruction and learning opportunities, but everything was cancelled swiftly and unexpectedly.

Many students that used school as a safe haven lost their ability to feel safe. Access to resources and teacher resources to support learning is gone.
A lot changed for teachers too. Their ability to create a safe space for children within the 4 walls of their classrooms – gone. COVID has completely altered the degree to which teachers find themselves responsible for their children's learning, safety, and wellbeing.

They arranged for thousands of teachers to work virtually, by designing and providing the protocols, procedures and resources to do that.
The greatest challenge they encountered was ensuring that all students had access to learning. That was incredibly difficult for families without access to the internet or computers! To adapt, they created personalized work packages tailored to each students learning needs. These packages included paper, pencils, markers, and everything needed to do the work at home.

COVID has brought other shifts in education as well. Summer classes increased, and different community organizations like the Windsor Symphony Orchestra stepped up to help create content for online learning students.  
Dr. Howitt compared this experience to building an airbus while in the air. The direction of the airbus could change at any minute. The last few months have created a lot of turbulence and so many unknowns. Despite the obstacles, Dr. Calara Howitt says she "in awe of how much educators and students have adapted to teach and learn and the support of the community members.

Graduating students celebrated differently this year. While it's not what they expected, there proved to be a lot of creativity when celebrating their accomplishments. Students honoured their academic journey through distance graduation ceremonies, lawn signs and, in some cases, driveway graduation ceremonies. It demonstrates the possibilities around education and that there's space for innovation in the education system.
The results of what we have experienced over the past few months have been a game-changer overall, and it will continue well into the future.

Re-opening included a deep clean of all locations, risk assessment and creating an individualized safety plan for each employee, from teacher to child care provider. Today, more than 50,000 stickers to help guide students and staff for social distancing and 5,000 posters.

They also analyzed the re-entry process, for classes like art, music and gym, what do those look like when students can't share equipment?
As we approach Nov 11, the end of the first quadmester, students and parents can choose to switch from online school to an in-class cohort. The students and teachers will continue to adapt and innovate their academic journey!