An Update From Your Principal

 
Dear Blyth LP Students and Families,…

Please read through these few important items/comments, and feel free to write me back or let me know how you’re doing out there. I am missing the daily interactions with you students especially, so DO reach out! Wishing you all the very best.

1. A video for all of us proud Torontonians to brighten the mood: https://vimeo.com/415473107

2. Alongside Blyth Academy Downsview Park, Blyth Academy Lawrence Park is excited to present Olympian Sarah Wells as a guest speaker on May 20th from 1:00-2:00PM. Sarah competed in the 2012 Olympic games in London, representing Canada! Sarah founded the Believe Initiative, empowering and engaging students to build resilience and recognize the power of self-belief.

3. Final Exams for Term 4: After much deliberation, we have decided that we will NOT be conducting traditional final exams in our Term 4 full-time courses. While our students are still ‘going to school’, we also have to recognize that it is not ‘business as usual’. Learning via Zoom is not the same as learning in person, and many of us are having a hard time finding activities and routines to support our learning with all of those necessary external restrictions in place out there. Final marks will still be comprised of 70% term work and 30% culminating activities, so look for your teachers to roll out some creative and engaging tasks in lieu of exams. This is not to say that we are forgoing academic integrity in the least. This pivot ensures that student work maintains a high level of quality and integrity: marks still matter, assignments need to be completed as they always do, and we are still asking students to engage with course material as robustly as they can (and are). The last day of school for Term 4 will be June 26th.

4. Offer for Grades 9-11 Families: Our friends at Blyth Academy Ottawa will be hosting a virtual presentation on Thursday May 14th at 7pm called “What You Need to Know About Scholarships in Grade 11” in partnership with Janet MacDonald of mycampusGPS Educational Consulting. Janet is a former university admission officer with over a decade of experience in post-secondary admissions. Janet will share her knowledge of the scholarship search and preparation process. This event is open to parents and students from Grades 9-11.

5. Grade 12 Graduation: Grads, we are working on a two-pronged solution to ensure that your graduation is properly recognized and celebrated. We are hoping to have a virtual event via Zoom next month, and we will also hope to celebrate in person with a reunion luncheon on Friday, October 9th 2020. This is the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend, and a weekend that most of you will be returning home from University or College. You’ll want to be spending your evenings with family and friends, but we’ll hope to be able to gather for some afternoon fun and celebration.

6. Summer School: We are running our dynamic summer school program in July & August, offering an array of courses in Grades 9-12. New additions include Grade 12 International Business, Grade 12 Recreational Leadership & Grade 12 Harry Potter & the Critical Lens. We are planning for July (and August if it needs to be) to be virtual, with classes running Monday- Friday, from 9:00-1:00 in our Zoom rooms with afternoons being reserved for 1:1 support with teachers (possibly in person but definitely virtually), as well as independent and group work. If you would like to register, you can do so here.

Please trust that we are watching very closely what other provinces are putting in place as they ease restrictions ahead of us here in Ontario. We do not know yet when we will be returning to our school buildings, or what it will look like when we do. We were proud to be one of the very first schools to transition to virtual classrooms (day two after March Break), and as we watch and plan for an eventual return, it’s possible that we will opt for the opposite; we have a solid offering in place right now, and we will not rush back at the first opportunity. When it is safe and right according to the Government of Ontario and the best-practice guidelines from public health authorities, and when we all – or at least almost all – of us feel ready, that will be our time.

With thanks,

Luke

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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