A Letter From Your Principal

 
Dear Students, Parents & Guardians,

Well, we did it…more than just “did it” actually…Week one in our virtual classrooms was completed with much success! Attendance has been outstanding and students report that they are finding the classes valuable not only in terms of the curriculum content but also with respect to setting some routines and having interaction with their peers in class – normalizing things for them a bit in this unusual situation. Thank you, each of you, for your willingness to jump in and get to work here.

Parents: I know that some of you have had the opportunity to visit a class or two yourselves this week, and feedback from you and students has been pretty outstanding under the circumstances. If you haven’t had the chance to see a class in action yet, I encourage you to do so. I’ve been really impressed with the teaching and learning opportunities being created by our teachers; while adjusted on the quick in order to make them suitable for the virtual classrooms, the lessons are certainly not short on richness of experience.

I’ve received a few questions about the curriculum coverage in our new reality. Please know that students are still getting the full curriculum and will be prepared for their next courses in the subject, whether high school or post-secondary. As you can imagine in our on-campus classes, the teacher-led portion of the classes doesn’t span the two hour block; rather they alternate between direct instruction and allowing students opportunities to work in class, practice their skills and get teacher feedback. The way we’ve scheduled our virtual classes is to have the one hour teacher-guided instruction blocks in the morning for each class and the student work and practice periods in the afternoons. All teachers have virtual office hours between 1:00 – 3:00 pm daily and are there to facilitate group or individual student academic support. Over the last week or so, I’ve had the opportunity to check in with colleagues at various other schools and the level of instruction that our students at Blyth Academy are receiving is beyond what most are experiencing at present.

Next week, I’m pleased to report that we’ll begin hosting some of our extra-curricular clubs virtually.
· EcoTeam will meet Mondays @ 1:15 pm
· Student Council will meet Tuesdays @ 1:15 pm
· Yoga will take place on Wednesdays @ 1:15 pm
· Yearbook Committee will meet on Fridays @ 12:30 pm

Ms. Palumbo has been hard at work organizing these behind the scenes so that our community can continue to connect and work together outside of our classes. Meeting IDs and passwords will be posted on our Edsby homepage by Monday. Until then, wishing you all a restful weekend.

Laurie Foley

Though our physical doors remain temporarily closed, the minds of our students stay open. Summer classes are continuing to meet on their regular daily schedules, in virtual classrooms with face-to-face instruction and peer interaction.  The Blyth Academy model of small class sizes, flexible scheduling and individualized approach have enabled us to remain faithful to our standards. Our commitment to ongoing and meaningful communication between school, teachers, students and families has been critical to this effort.

Although our students have transitioned into summer mode and COVID-19 restrictions have begun to loosen, we are looking ahead to what September will hold for our campuses and families.
We want to be clear - our preference and our priority is to get students back to our campuses, but we must ensure this is done in a safe and effective way. While we await official guidance from Public Health and the Ministry of Education, a "return to school" task force has been hard at work putting concrete operational plans in place for all likely scenarios. This includes a full return to campus with safeguards, a blended model of virtual and in-campus learning and the continuation of fully virtual classrooms. All scenarios will provide robust learning and live, daily instruction and interaction with teachers and peers. 
With ten campuses across Ontario, we realize that each one of our schools is a unique space and community. We will be implementing across-the-board policies on hand washing, facility cleaning and social distancing measures. Each school is also prepared to pivot individually based on the guidance of local health authorities and to best serve students and families. 
Our recent survey showed that over 80 per cent of Blyth Academy families are eager to return to campuses, and we are hard at work to prepare for this day. As September's scenario becomes clearer and more information becomes available, we will continue to communicate. 

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