Update From Principal Booth

Friday, January 15, 2021

 

Dear Blyth Yorkville and Orbit community,

Welcome to 2021! I’m sure we had all hoped it might start a little better than 2020, but alas it appears that we will be having to dig in a little longer before the viruses, both physical and political, are behind us.

While it has been lonely at the campus, I have been, as always, sincerely heartened by the efforts of our students and teachers through these latest challenges. Classes resumed after the break without interruption, and in the classes I have visited, email correspondences read, and teachers reports, I am seeing and hearing good things. This is a testament to the foundations laid throughout the year in our physical and virtual settings.

MANY thanks to the teachers and parents who have been issuing small notes of appreciation to one another in the post-holiday period. I have been encouraging the teachers to take moments to shoot out little updates of positivity, in the hopes that it might brighten some long days. As a parent, I am very conscious of how much a little good news about our children can mean. What I had failed to think about was how the replies to our teachers illuminate their spirits in turn! I encourage everyone to keep this momentum as we press into the final weeks of the second term.

In addition to these notes, I wanted to call attention to some other initiatives we have on the go to help support our students. Mr. Trochanowski has introduced a grading platform to his math classes that has been extremely helpful in acclimating students to virtual submissions, clarified their test-taking procedures, and greatly improved the quality of our reporting and feedback. He will be introducing this technology, called “Corwdmark”, to the other STEM teachers, for full introduction in term 3. Using this system, which was developed by a U of T professor, and used in universities across North America, will add to our Passport Program push to develop students’ remote learning skills. You will be receiving more information on this vital program from Mr. Kearney next week, and can expect reporting on your child’s development in the areas of attendance, participation, submissions, learning and communication with their end-of-term reports. We are hopeful that this proactive work will help ease some of the stress, and give students a greater sense of control over these new learning environments. Finally, Ms. Munther will be issuing information on our campus Edsby page, where we hope to consolidate information for the community as a supplement to our regular email updates.

Finally, I would like to encourage you to continue to communicate with us with any thoughts, concerns or suggestions you may have for the school as we navigate our way through the year. If you have not yet had an opportunity to do so, I would like to make a final plea that you take a moment to fill out our school survey through the link below. We have received tremendous feedback throughout the year, and this survey will serve as an invaluable guide to our efforts to continue improving in our efforts to support you.

https://forms.gle/yu5eoxb8BBpYGq9E7

As always, my sincere thanks for making this community such a great pleasure to work with.

Best, Michael.

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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