TDSB School Board Trustee's Report - Anu Sriskandarajah
2020/2021 School Year Updates
We’ve heard from parents that they wanted smaller class sizes and Trustees approved more than $30 million in funding to enable staff to develop a plan that would see the hiring of an additional 366 teachers and the redeployment of 400 central teachers to lower class sizes across the board to help improve student and staff safety in our schools.
Toronto Public Health identified some communities as being at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19. Schools in these communities will have JK/SK classes capped at 15 students, while Grade 1 to 8 classes will be capped at 20. In all other schools, JK/SK classes will be capped at 26, Grade 1 to 3 classes will be capped at 20, while Grade 4 to 8 classes will be capped at 27.
With regard to virtual school (or remote learning), students will be taking part in live online learning throughout the day and see class size caps of 29 in JK/SK, 20 in Grades 1 to 3 and 35 in Grades 4 to 8. To achieve these class sizes, the TDSB used money from TDSB Reserves ($29.5M), the Ministry ($6.3M), and the regular TDSB budget ($2.9M). This approach balanced the urgent need to spend additional funds to lower class sizes, but doesn’t get the Board into financial trouble in the years ahead by using too much of those reserves, much of which are set aside for employee benefits.
The federal funding announcement that was made in late August resulted in $6.5 million for additional teachers. This funding supported approximately 60 more teachers. The funding also provided $10.1 million for “school reopening emerging issues”, which was used to support teacher staffing and to purchase technology.
A question I often get asked from concerned community members is the screening process in the schools. For the first two to four weeks, all staff and students were expected to conduct a self-assessment. They were expected to verify their self-assessment based on direction from Toronto Public Health. A self-assessment for students was verified in two ways: A parent or guardian signed the TDSB HEALTH PASS daily and the student showed it to the staff member at the entry door. The parent or guardian was also able to complete the assessment on the TDSB Health Screening App, which generated a QR code that a student scanned at the entry door (if they have a mobile device) or the student gave their name and the staff at the entry door verified the status. If a student did not have the verification to show their self-assessment was completed, they were asked if they were feeling well. If the student was feeling well, they were allowed into the classroom. Their names were noted down and their parents were contacted to provide verification. If they said no, they were brought to the Wellness Room. High school students were responsible for their own screening.