Christmas school break extended by province

WEST CARLETON – Get ready to spend a little extra time with the kiddos this Christmas break.

The Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) is informing parents of its students the holiday break will be extended due to the provincial COVID-19 lockdown set to commence Boxing Day (Dec. 26).

“Today (Dec. 21), the Government of Ontario announced a province-wide shutdown to stop the spread of COVID-19,” OCDSB director of education Camille Williams-Taylor wrote in an email to parents obtained by West Carleton Online. “This affects schools. Students will not return to school in person on Jan. 4 as planned.”

The OCDSB has been planning for this possibility and all OCDSB elementary and secondary in person schools will shift to teacher-led remote learning after the winter break. Students attending OCV will continue with their usual schedule beginning Jan. 4.

The following is an overview of what to expect in Jan.:

Elementary schools
  • Remote learning will occur from Monday, Jan. 4 to Friday Jan. 8, 2021.
  • During the remote learning period, the school timetable will be followed (start and end time, as well as school established nutrition breaks and recesses).
  • Each day, learning for students will be scheduled based on the daily ministry requirements for learning using both synchronous  and asynchronous teaching and learning: 
  • Kindergarten students – 180 minutes of synchronous learning opportunities (120 minutes asynchronous) a day during the regularly scheduled class time.
  • Grade 1 to 8 students –  225 minutes synchronous learning opportunities (75 minutes asynchronous) a day during the regularly scheduled class time.
  • Daily attendance will be taken by teachers.

“The focus of Monday, Jan. 4 will be supporting the transition to remote learning; teachers will share Instructions to access the Google Classroom or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), verify email addresses, ensure the homeroom/class timetable for students is posted in the Google Classroom/VLE, provide reminders about COVID-19 safety practices, and reach out to families who may need access to a device,” Williams-Taylor  said. “Much of the focus of Jan. 4 will be on asynchronous instruction, and teachers will provide additional information about scheduled synchronized learning opportunities for that day.”

Parents can expect an email from their child’s teacher on or before Jan. 4. In-person classes are scheduled to resume on Monday, Jan. 11.

Secondary school
  • Remote learning will occur from Monday, Jan. 4 to Friday, Jan. 22.
  • The daily schedule will be modified for the period of the closure to allow:
  • both cohorts (A and B) to learn together; 
  • both courses to be taught each day, and;
  • students will have two 112.5 minute blocks of instruction daily.
  • Daily attendance will be taken.

Students, parents and guardians can expect an email from the school on or before Jan. 4 with more detailed information about the schedule and transition, including information for those who require access to a device.

On Monday, Jan. 4 students should check the Google Classroom or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) for updates from the teacher and prepare for remote learning.

“In-person classes are scheduled at this time to resume the week of Jan. 25,” Williams-Taylor said.

 Students enrolled in special education program classes

Students with special education needs will continue to be supported by their classroom teacher during this period.

Students enrolled in specialized program classes have been learning on a blended model and this will continue. On Jan. 4, students in these classes can expect to start with a focus on remote learning.  

“The OCDSB remains committed to ensuring the students with special education will be engaged in remote learning with appropriate support(s), and in some cases in-person learning may be possible,” Williams-Taylor said. “Work is underway to determine how this could be safely operationalized.”

Parents and guardians of students enrolled in specialized program classes can expect additional information from the classroom teacher on or before Jan. 4.

Childcare and extended day programs
  • OCDSB Extended Day Programs (EDP) will be closed between Jan. 4 and 8 and will resume on Jan. 11.
  • Infant, toddler and preschool programs operated by third-party providers may operate subject to restrictions, please check with your provider.
  • OCDSB Infant Toddler Preschool programs will be open during the week of Jan. 4 to 8 and beyond.
  • Early ON and Family Centres will transition to providing virtual activities from Jan. 4 to 8. In-person activities will resume on Jan. 11.  
  • Emergency childcare is available for health care and frontline workers through the City of Ottawa.
Administrative offices

OCDSB Administration Buildings remain closed to the public and have limited access for designated staff.

“We have made every effort to respond to today’s announcement as quickly and with as much information as possible,” Williams-Taylor said. “If there are any further changes over the winter break, we will send an additional update. This has been a challenging year for everyone. Today’s announcement is an important reminder about the need to follow public health guidelines.  I wish you and your family a very safe and healthy winter break.”

 It is expected the Catholic school board will follow a similar plan.