Friday, Mar. 27th - Trustees with the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) met on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 for their regular Board meeting. Trustees and senior staff joined the meeting by teleconference to ensure social distancing, however full audio was broadcasted live.
Second Financial Forecast of 2019-2020 Fiscal Year
Staff presented the second financial forecast of the 2019-2020 fiscal year, predicting a surplus of nearly $2 million for compliance purposes as of August 31, 2020. This projected surplus has increased by $600,000 since the first financial forecast in January. The improvement is due to increases in Grants for Student Needs and tuition fee revenues, as well as savings in instructional and support program costs.
2020-2021 Draft School Year Calendar
Trustees approved the 2020-2021 draft school year calendar, which begins the school year with a PA Day on September 1, 2020. Classes start on September 2, 2020. The calendar contains 97 instructional days in both academic semesters, as well as seven professional activity days. Staff will now submit the calendar to the Ministry of Education for final approval by May 1, 2020.
Board Response to COVID-19
Staff outlined how the UCDSB is responding to the COVID-19 situation. The overall response has included: the temporary closure of all schools in the district, as well as all in-school child care facilities and administrative centres; the continuation of key business services such as IT and Human Resources services through staff working remotely. Staff also updated the Board of Trustees on its efforts to: collaborate with the Ministry of Education to ensure continued learning by our students; address enhanced cleaning procedures at our buildings; ensure frequent communication with local health units and other agencies; and maintain an active line of communication with the public to keep them updated with relevant information.
The Rideau District High School Lions won silver at the EOSSAA Junior A Girls’ Volleyball Championship . . .
Thursday, Mar. 5th – The Rideau District High School Lions won silver Tuesday, March 3 at the EOSSAA Junior A Girls’ Volleyball Championship, held at St. Mary Catholic High School in Brockville. Despite a strong effort, the Lions fell in the final to the St. Mary’s Crusaders 25-17, 14-25, 15-13. Setter Paige McCourt served 10 straight points to help win the second set, while Makenna Taylor had some key hits and a strong defensive game.
“It was a fantastic day,” said RDHS Coach Wendy McCourt. “Our junior girls played amazingly well all day. I couldn’t have been more proud of their commitment, fight, and respect for each other. I’m very excited to see how these girls develop as we move into senior competition next year. I believe they have the mental toughness and drive to be an OFSAA contender.”
Board meeting - Tuesday, March 3
Specialist High Skills Program Update . . .
Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) programs provide an opportunity for students to focus on a career path that matches their skills and interests, while meeting the requirements of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma. Students receive the SHSM seal on their diploma when they complete a specific bundle of 8 to 10 courses in the student’s selected field, earn valuable industry certifications including first aid, and CPR qualifications, and gain important skills on the job with employers.
Tammy Bovaird, Specialist High Skills Major Consultant, and Dan Lortie, OYAP Coordinator, presented information to the Board on the opportunities and successes provided through SHSM programs.
“Students in Grade 11 and 12 are able to earn certifications through a Specialist High Skills Major that are valuable to securing employment like First Aid/ CPR and WHMIS,” began SHSM Consultant Tammy Bovaird. “It is available to students in all academic pathways and students who successfully complete a SHSM receive a diploma with an embossed red seal and a record card outlining their achievements.”
There are currently 19 Ministry approved sectors available in Ontario, and CDSBEO offers nine sectors through 25 programs in its ten secondary schools. Each SHSM includes components including bundled credits (including cooperative education), sector recognized certifications and training courses, experiential learning and career exploration, reach ahead learning experiences, and sector partnered contextualized experiences in partnership with industry partners. For the 2019-2020 school year there are 461 students enrolled, of which 217 (47 per cent) have an individual education plan (IEP).
“Forty-seven per cent of our students in the SHSM program have an IEP, and many of these students traditionally may have had trouble remaining engaged and staying in school. It is our goal to encourage students to participate in SHSM in order to gain the skills and knowledge that will help them transition in meaningful career choices,” explained Ms. Bovaird.
Students in the Specialist High Skills Major Transportation Program at St. Joseph’s Catholic Secondary School in Cornwall have been provided with some unique opportunities this school year, as the students embark on building two Enduro race cars. The program was highlighted by OYAP Coordinator Dan Lortie, along with some other upcoming special events.
“This year, students in the program are branching out into some welding projects, and students have visited St. Lawrence College for additional learning opportunities,” noted Lortie. “Cornwall Toyota has donated two vehicles for the Eduro project. The cars will be raffled off as a school fundraiser, and will be painted with the St. Joe’s colours, providing great exposure for the students and the school.”
A Women in Trades camp will take place in early July for CDSBEO students in grades 6, 7 and 8, which will include a visit to the woodworking and automotive shops at St. Joseph’s, as well as a tour of St. Lawrence College tech programs. Students will also have the opportunity to attend the Canadian International Car Show and participate in the Automotive Expo taking place on April 30. This event provides an opportunity for students to understand the various career avenues within the automotive sector.
Virtual Reality Learning for CDSBEO Students . . .
The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario is taking career exploration to a new level in its Grade 10 Careers classes. This year, students have the opportunity to use CareerLabs VR, a virtual reality program, to explore the skilled trades in an immersive, virtual environment.
Students can choose from virtual reality experiences in an array of programs including welding, residential electrician, robotics technician, HVAC technician, mining engineer, and heavy equipment operator. In each application, students are immersed in a virtual worksite, performing tasks that would be expected in that sector. For example, in the HVAC program, users are prompted on how to fix a broken fan, troubleshoot defective compressors, and fix broken wires. In the electrician program, users are challenged to test voltage levels in outlets and replace broken wires.
Experiential Learning Consultant, Liz McCormick, presented information about the new virtual reality learning opportunities for students, and how students benefit from the program.
“Using virtual reality really allows students to assess various career pathways and presents an opportunity for them to explore careers and make informed choices about their futures through a deeper understanding of skilled trades,” noted McCormick.
“As educators, one of our duties is to provide opportunities for students to discover what careers are out there and what careers would be right for them. Virtual reality simulations of job sites are a fun and engaging way to explore opportunities.”
Students are also completing pre- and post-activities in MyBlueprint to complement the virtual reality experience. Students build a digital portfolio unique to the CareerLabs VR experience and complete a feedback form to CareerLabs VR once they have used the tool. Plans are underway to expand the options to include process engineer, equipment operator, pipefitter and robotic welding operator.
“For the last 15 years, the CDSBEO has been active in the promotion of skilled trades and apprenticeships through the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship with excellent results. This new technology will allow us to reach a broader audience and attract new students to the apprenticeship pathway,” noted Dan Lortie, CDSBEO Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Coordinator.
Next steps for the program include gathering feedback to inform future practice, developing links with labour market information, and to continue to develop strong partnerships with local employers and employment agencies. Currently, CDSBEO is one of only four school boards in Canada using virtual reality to inform student career pathways planning.
“It is amazing that students have this opportunity to explore, learn, and discover a variety of career options through the immersive power of virtual reality,” explained Board Chair Todd Lalonde. “This virtual reality (VR) system puts students in the driver's seat to see, hear, and experience the job itself, without ever leaving the classroom and we are extremely excited to have partnered with CareerLabs VR to offer this learning experience.”