An Update From Your Principal

 

Dear Blyth Academy Yorkville community,

I wanted to extend my own best wishes to our community in this challenging time and provide a more campus-specific update as a follow-up.

First, some highlights of the past week:

  • The grade 11 English class has a new Independent Study Project, which involves the creation of a Covid Time Capsule, as a means of documenting, researching and communicating about the history that is happening now.
  • Our Calculus and Vectors class has formed a virtual homework club outside of regular class time.
  • The Data Management class is studying the numbers associated with the virus.
  • The students in Challenge and Change are holding discussions at the level of undergraduate seminars. I told them how impressed I was by their performance the other day, as we reflected on their capacity to process challenges in much more sophisticated ways that their Principal back in the day!
  • The grade 10 business class may be more engaged, in certain respects, than some of their physical classroom times. They are doing an outstanding job.
  • The grade 12 English class is discovering the timeliness of the themes addressed in Fahrenheit 451, a novel published in 1953, through their presentations on current events tackling issues of education, technology, mental health, government control &/or persuasion, peer pressure and social conformity.
  • Grade 9s are awesome, as always.
Before broaching more logistical matters, I encourage you to check in with your kids about how things are going, and what’s going on in class. You may be surprised to find that in these new circumstances, lines of communication can open up in unforeseen ways.

  • As some will have seen, we continue to take and report attendance on our close-to-regular schedule with prompt notices. I am happy to report that the students have been present and on time at truly impressive rates.
  • Students have also been submitting work of high quality and in a timely fashion. There are a thousand potential hiccups in this process, but again, the students have figured things out admirably, and Edsby is a hotbed of activity!
  • Where struggles are occurring, we are communicating with updates as always. Teachers and guidance have gone above and beyond in maintaining updates and will continue to maintain this highest priority of the school.
  • With more details to come, the end of term 3, exam, and the start of term 4 dates remain intact. Teachers are finalizing exam formats this week.
  • The faculty is plotting a return of extra-curriculars, with some old favourites and new offerings to come.
  • University counselling and timetabling continue apace.
  • We are adding virtual learning skills to our reporting on post-secondary preparedness at the end of the term. The virtual classroom has long been featured in university courses. So, in addition to the uninterrupted progress of their courses, our students are gaining valuable foundations for their future academic encounters.

In general, it has been sincerely heartening to see the work of our talented and tireless staff, students and families through the past two weeks. I feel extremely grateful to be able to move forward together with this incredible community. My visits to classes, faculty meetings, and Principal conferences are wonderful opportunities to share ideas, experiences and a little humour each day. Your notes of appreciation have been immensely helpful to the teachers as they have rapidly responded to current circumstances. We are privileged to have these educators with us.

So, it is looking like we will be in this virtual format for the foreseeable future. There are many messages of advice, expertise, motivation, and all other kinds of perspective on what is happening to our worlds today. I have little to add, other than to embrace the progress we’ve made to date, and to rely on our collective support to persevere.

To that end, I will continue to be available via email. You can also book times for phone calls and/or Zoom conferences through the following link: https://calendly.com/mbooth-2.

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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