A Letter From Your Principal

 
For the last 10 years as Blyth LP Principal, if limited to just one word, I would describe our school as “personal”. It’s what differentiates us; small classes, but more so an environment in which every student is known. Leni greets students by name when they walk through our doors; Guidance meets with them individually, not in advisory groups, and in classes, of course, relationships with teachers are warm and two-way. We know most of our students’ hobbies, favourite subjects, and even their challenges.

I’m delighted and very proud of the fact that we’ve been able to maintain much of that “personal” element through our virtual classrooms. I’d like to thank our fabulous faculty, and also you students and parents, for being so responsive and engaged. Early feedback (and please keep it coming!) has been extremely positive and we are pleased to continue delivering our face-to-face programs to students. Attendance has been excellent, and it’s critical that this continues.

At the same time, a few teachers, and parents too, have commented on some of our students seeming increasingly down as the days of isolation mount. Of course there will be that. It’s important that we acknowledge the struggle, and share our own if we are experiencing it as well. Please know that our teachers will keep things upbeat as much as they can; that we’re here, offering some energy, some normalcy, and some community every day. All the more reason for students to attend…the last thing to do with loneliness and feeling down is to disconnect from our positive outlets. A few further thoughts here.

We will also be looking at offering some virtual extra-curricular activities (such as some fun online games that we can play over zoom) next week, so please watch your email and Edsby for updates.

As we have now completed our first full week of virtual school, we are beginning to reflect both as a faculty team and as an organization as a whole, on how we can keep getting better in this new world. For now, please know that I and our team are available, as always, for anything you may need. Emails are the best way to initiate conversations, and we can follow up by phone/zoom as well.

Very best,

Luke Coles

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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