John English SAC Meeting Minutes September 15, 2021

  This virtual meeting was held online via Google meet.  

Welcome 7:00 – 7:05
Introductions

  • Jennifer Zakrzewski & David Fudge introduced as SAC Co-Chairs
  • 5-6 meetings a year, and we have switched to virtual meetings because of the pandemic, this will continue for the remainder of the year

Items to Add to Agenda

  • None at this time.

Principal Report 7:05 – 7:31

  • M. Gélinas has been principal since January 2021
  • We welcome Mme Taillefer as a new VP to our school. Our other VP, Ms. Gorman shares her regrets as she is unable to attend our meeting tonight. Mme Smith continues as the teacher representative this year and we thank her for maintaining this role.
  • The building is alive again! Students are happy, teachers are thrilled to be back, the building feels back as it should be!
  • Our school population this year is approximately 800 students in person with 19 students who are virtual. 
  • Because of these numbers, we do not have a virtual classroom dedicated in our school. Those students who are learning virtually have been assigned to combined classes with other area schools.
  • On the whole our classes are pretty full with several new registrations in the last week. Numbers seem to have now stabilized.
    • French Immersion senior classes are high with approx. 31 students in our grade 7 and 8 classes.
    • The English side has one class at about 31
    • Because of these numbers, we can anticipate some changes coming to class configurations in the weeks to come.
  • As required, we will be practicing our safety protocols (fire/lockdown) shortly. These will be completed following Covid protocols this year, as they were last year. 
  • Playground project update:
    • In late August, the old structure was removed and construction has begun. It is currently on pause as there was neighborhood concerns about some of the trees along the fence line that needed additional protection.
    • In response to those concerns, city planners came by to ensure the trees are being adequately protected and that the ground remains stable and able to support the trees in the area of concern.
    • The new playground equipment is due in October, and this timeline should not be impacted significantly because of the concerns about the trees.
  • There has been some interest in developing a health screening form that encompasses the entire month to lessen paper waste. 
    • We do not anticipate a change to a monthly form would be an issue if there is enough interest in it.  
  • There has been some concern about masking this year, with students and staff not wearing masks outdoors.
    • Students and staff are allowed to have mask breaks outside as long as distancing can be maintained.
    • Staff had a meeting to be reminded that if distancing is an issue, masks need to be worn so the rules will be applied uniformly moving forward.
    • During eating times, masks are removed (this includes lunch and snack times)
    • During Phys Ed students are to wear them, but during high physical exertion they can be removed. It is encouraged to go outside in order to participate in the high impact sport lessons.
  • Picture day set for October 6 this year. The plan is to allow individual photos, but group class photos will not be taken.
    • We have asked for photos to be taken outside and have identified the courtyard area as a good space to set up.
    • This will be confirmed once the TDSB has given a green light to hold picture days.
    • We are hoping to get composite photos done in lieu of group class photos. 
  • Technology has been rolling out in classrooms. 
    • There are 63 new Chromebooks for the new TDSB Grade 5 1:1 program 
    • We also have received 5 boxes with a total of approximately 50 computers from the Board to replace the computers that were given to support students during the first wave of the pandemic.
    • During the last phase of virtual learning in the spring, many other computers were sent out and all those are returned, very few had damage.
    • In the spring an inventory of devices was completed, and we will have an equitable distribution of technology to ensure all students have access. Using the information from that inventory also allows us to plan for future purchasing to fill in identified gaps.
    • In all we have over 600 iPads or chrome books that will be distributed throughout our school.
    • UPDATE Oct 18, 2021:  The actual numbers of functioning pieces of technology is 350.  
  • Last spring we asked for voluntary contributions from families to support our grade 8 graduation
    • Total raised was $1110 toward the graduation 
    • The 2021 graduation cost over $10k to the school, which is not sustainable for the school to cover moving forward
    • Last year all students got a composite photo, yearbook, and hoodie. 
    • We need to work with graduates and families to decide how this will be done moving forward.
  • A question has been asked about the viability of outdoor lunches
    • They primary difficulty with this is access to the yard. With approximately 600 of our 800 students on site for lunch and 8 lunch supervisors, we simply do not have the space or staff to manage outdoor lunch at this time.
    • Currently kids eat in their rooms in 2 shifts, and kids are really well behaved to assist with supervision.
  • Parent question about guidelines for snacks: 
    • Classroom level decision about where students eat. If there is a problem with the current plan, definitely bring it up with the teacher to see if there is a solution that can be developed.
  • Parent question: another area school has the expectation that teachers supervise their class through lunch, which allows for flexibility within the class about where students eat, sometimes even splitting up the class to allow for more indoor distancing.
    • The issue is about collective agreement and the requirement for teachers to get 40 mins of uninterrupted time, and 80 mins total throughout the day. At our school most teachers are at 75-80 mins as it is so we simply do not have the ability to require additional supervision time of our staff right now
  • Parent question: Will there be a chance to see the classroom/virtual curriculum night?
    • Curriculum night is tentatively scheduled for October 5th, still need to be finalized with staff.
    • Will be virtual again this year, and teachers would be able to host the event at home or in the classroom.
  • Parent question: are large classes able to distance?
    • Every class is set up to maximize distancing.
    • The admin team went through each classroom to be sure that they are set up as best that they can be.
  • Parent question: do desks have shields?
    • No they do not
  • Parent question: Why do we have 2 grade 4/5 English stream classes?
    • Numbers are projected in the spring and models are developed based on those projections
    • Example: 61 grade 1 students do not make 3 classes, so combined classes need to be made to meet caps
    • Staffing committee at the school tries to balance the kids and make the best placements for all students. 
    • The English side has a smaller number of students (example: 10 grade 3 students), so split classes need to be accommodated which can have an impact for several grade levels need to be structured. 
  • Parent question: Will Healthy Bites be able to come back?
    • At this point cafeterias cannot run per TPH regulations
    • Health bites is ready to run should be it allowed, even with a modified method
  • Parent question: how long is it estimated that it will take to complete construction of the playground?
    • We were told everything had to be done by Dec 31 because of the requirements set by the granting program that is funding the majority of the project. 

Vice Principal’s Report: 7:31-35

  • Thank you for the welcome to the school. I come to John English with 9 years of experience as a VP, so not new to role but new to school
  • So far it has been a great start to the school and community to get on board and up to date with the policies and procedures of the school
  • Last year worked in a Special Education virtual school as VP, so I am becoming familiar with the policies and practices in place in a physical school during the pandemic.
  • Good news on that front: we have been chosen as one of 600 schools in Ontario selected to be a saliva collection site for Covid testing. Note that this is not a rapid test, but is a lab-based diagnostic test.
    • There will be an opportunity to attend a webinar to familiarize ourselves with the process.
    • There is a set list of 5 symptoms that would trigger access to the program. A kit would then be sent home with the student/staff. The collection must be done offsite, but the kit then gets dropped off (no-contact) at the school for collection by the hospital lab. It is easy, safe and effective. The collection kit comes with clear, detailed instructions about how to administer it yourself. 
    • More information will be shared in the weekly update once we have it.

Teacher’s Report 7:35 – 7:41

  • The thing that struck teachers this year was that the kids have been working independently since March. This meant they have had to adjust their learning in an individual setting, and now they are back in the classroom. Many students have sort of forgotten how actions implicate more than themselves and their families.
    • It is interesting to see the sense of community develop again within the classroom.
    • Teachers have been watching this transformation, and you see how quickly students adapt to their new surroundings and you really sense that kids understand the rules and protocols for Covid are in place for them, and to stay in school as safely as possible.
  • Library is open again! 
    • Ms. McPhail remains our steadfast library volunteer, and is working with classroom teachers.
    • Ms. Vella is also doing the .5 librarian role as well
      • Will be able to teach in French and English, and is a certified Primary and Intermediate teacher
      • Working to develop the library into a “learning commons” and create a collaborative teaching environment
  • Parent Question: Will Forest of Reading be back this year?
    • They already have the books and they are putting things together for it!

Board Business                                                                                 7:41 – 8:03

URGENT NEED

  • We no longer have a treasurer for our council, and this is a required position. Does anyone have a recommendation for someone who can take on this role?  Liz (past treasurer) is available to provide support to transition throughout the year.  
    • This is not a role we can do without 
    • Liz has provided the budget report that will be presented, as an example of the work that is done
    • If you are interested, please reach out! 
      • Parent has indicated interest and will be in touch with the Co-Chairs to move forward with this.

Programs

  • No active programs at this time.  

Fundraising

  • Proposal: Kahoot virtual game night to support the playground revitalization project.
    • The inaugural Kahoot Trivia night was a highly successful event last year, with an evening fundraising event held last May that raised about $1300 
    • Plan to do another shortly, date remains to be determined.
    • Intention would be to offer prizes again, but we will be planning and communicating the plans with our school community.
    • Last time we had 3 different Kahoots for different age groups and parents
      • This time I think we would do 2 levels (one for ‘kids’ and one for ‘parents’ to provide the best experience for everyone)
      • Younger kids would be welcome to attend
      • If people with younger kids want to arrange something the SAC is always open to new ideas and would support and promote other events
  • Active fundraisers include:
    • Direct Donation to John English via Cash Online 
      • This is always available and welcome, the funds come directly to the school and the 100% comes to the school
  • Parent question: Bag-2-School – would it be possible to run this year as it does not involve anyone coming in?
    • Background information: this is a third-party company that accept textile donations, the school is set up as a collection site
    • The company comes to collect them, and pays the school per kilogram 
      • Could be worked around to allow a 48 hour quarantine that is required of stuff that is brought in

Treasurer’s Report

  • Summary of 2020/2021 financials
    • Biggest expenditure last year was the playground contribution of $10 000
    • The current balance is $7 534
  • Last year our SAC offered each class could offer a lump sum to help offset the cost of a virtual tour fieldtrip
    • Based on our funds this year, we may not be able to offer the same volume of support this year
    • Other fundraisers might be able to support this, if there is interest from classroom teachers
  • Note that for many years we were carrying over too large a balance, so we had to get the balance down
  • Parent question: do not see the spend of $10K on graduation 
    • This was paid for primarily by school and an asked donation by families
    • This cannot be carried by the school going forward so we will need to work with families to communicate some of these costs earlier in the year and develop a plan to offset the costs or rethink the graduation ceremony and events

Meeting Ends 8:03

Ward 3 School Trustee: Patrick Nunziata can be reached at Patrick.Nunziata@tdsb.on.ca or 416 996 5572, sign up for e-newsletter at www.tdsb.on.ca/ward3/Ward3.aspx or follow him on Twitter @NunziataPatrick