Monthly Archives: April 2020

Catholic Education Week & Important Updates

Celebrating Catholic Education: May 3rd – May 8th, 2020

The theme for Catholic Education Week 2020, “Igniting Hope,” reminds us that publicly funded Catholic education is a call to service. We have a shared responsibility within Catholic education to bring the saving message of Jesus Christ into the lives of our students/ your children. The theme of “Igniting Hope” reminds us, as educators,  that it is our privilege to serve families who support Catholic education in the province of Ontario.

The theme for CEW 2020 was inspired by three sources:

  • The recent Papal Exhortation, Christus Vivit, by Pope Francis following the 2018 Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment
  • The recent Ontario Bishops’ pastoral letter, Renewing the Promise (2018)
  • The Ontario Catholic School Graduate Expectations by the Institute for Catholic Education (2011)

Teachers will be highlighting the sub-themes of “Igniting Hope” in their distance learning next week. Now, more than ever, the message of “HOPE” is central to our wellness. We are looking forward to sharing our hope-filled messages with one another while we celebrate the gift of Catholic education next week.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Farewell to Mrs. Keller!

The time has come to wish Mrs. Keller (grade 7/8 teacher) farewell as she moves to a permanent teaching position at St. Benedict CSS. Mrs. Keller’s last day with St. Agnes will be May 1st. In her short time with us at St. Agnes, Mrs. Keller has established wonderful learning relationships with her students and created a dynamic classroom environment that incorporated technology, adaptive learning styles, and engaging lessons for all students. Her positive energy and commitment to student learning both inside and outside of the classroom will be missed at St. Agnes. We wish you continued success as you transition to teaching math at St. Benedict CSS in Cambridge. All the best!!

Welcome back, Mrs. McKinley!

We are thrilled to announce that Mrs. McKinley will be rejoining us at St. Agnes on May 4th. She will be taking over Mrs. Keller’s grade 7/8 class. Many of the students are already familiar with Mrs. McKinley and will no doubt be excited to have her back as their teacher. We are looking forward to a virtual welcome for now, and a face to face welcome when it is safe to do so. Welcome back, Mrs. McKinley!

We anticipate a seamless transition for our grade 7/8 class. Mrs. Keller and Mrs. McKinley have been working together over the past month to share information and plan for distance learning. The expectations for distance learning with respect to assessment and reporting have been clearly defined by the Ministry of Education. If parents have any questions about how students are being assessed please visit the FAQ Page on our WCDSBLearn@Home site. Additional questions should be directed to Mrs. Reesor.

Yearbook 2019- 20

We are happy to report that we will be producing a complete yearbook to commemorate the 2019-20 school year. But…we need YOUR help to make this happen! Please read the letter from our Librarian Mrs. Boll for details on how you can contribute pictures to our yearbook. Details about pricing, and how to order will be shared at a later date. First, we need your pictures!

Yearbook update

Student Registrations & Departures for 2020-21

Online registrations for all students (Kindergarten to grade 8) are currently being accepted. Please visit the home page of the WCDSB website and scroll to the bottom. Click on Register Now. It is very important for families to complete this online registration as soon as possible so we have accurate numbers for next school year.

If your child is NOT returning to St. Agnes for any reason (other than graduation from grade 8) please inform Mrs. McGlynn as soon as possible via email sherry.mcglynn@wcdsb.ca . This information is very important to us from a planning perspective. Your timely response is very much appreciated.

Special Message from the Chair of the Board & the Director of Education

Dear Waterloo Catholic Community –

It has been a few weeks since we have connected, so we thought it important to offer you a few important updates as we continue to navigate this time of school closure and distance learning.  Let us begin by saying that we truly hope that you and your families are well and that you are finding ways to stay healthy and positive.  As an Easter people we pray that the hope of the season is alive in your homes.  But these are unsettling times for everyone and we believe it is absolutely OK to feel that you are not OK.  We know that each of us has a unique reality and that will position us differently in terms of our ability to walk through this time and to support our children’s learning journey right now.

For the past three weeks we have begun the journey into Educator-led learning and it could not have been done without the tremendous efforts of so many.  We are most appreciative to our staff who have worked so hard to put provisions in place so that we could reach all of our students.  We hope that every student continues to have contact with their teacher(s) and that each one knows that we care for and value each of them.  We will reiterate that our most pressing concern remains student well being – both mentally and physically.  As we have said before, it is not “business as usual”, but we do hope that students are connecting with their teachers as this is our “new normal” for the time being.

We wanted to provide you updates on a few different topics of interest to you and your children.  Know that this is a rapidly changing landscape and with many uncertainties, and as there are many players to both consult and work with, as well as others who provide us vital direction or information, sometimes full clarity takes a little time.

As always, on our WCDSB board website you will find from our home page a link to WCDSBLearn@Home where a host of additional resources for all learners will be found.  We also encourage you to continue to visit our WCDSBPray@Home webpage as well as our FAQ page.  You can also follow the #STEAMDays hashtag where lots of fun and engaging activities are being posted.  With that said, a few updates:

Length of the closure: 

We are awaiting direction from the government and Ministry of Education on this point.  We expect it will be forth coming soon.  While it is unlikely we will be returning to our buildings in the short term, full clarity about our return or what that might look like when we do return, may still be a while in coming.

Expectations During Distance Learning:

We realize there are different realities for all of our students and all of our educators.  For that reason, each student and teacher is held to the guidelines the Ministry has provided for minimum hours.  To review what we have shared previously – the suggested hours reflect both the time a teacher might use in providing formal instruction or guidance, as well as the time the student will spend completing the learning task or activity.  There is not a firm expectation that all students have to be “online” at the exact same time, although in some cases that might happen on occasion.

Assessment and Evaluation:

Equity has been a significant consideration in this new landscape as not all children are equally positioned to succeed to the best of their ability when learning from home.  We also know that students learning from home can place added pressure on a parent who may be juggling their own work or family related responsibilities.  For these reasons, assessment in elementary is taking the form of feedback or formative assessment, rather than grading.  Students can benefit and continue progressing through this feedback.  For our students in secondary, they will receive both formative and summative assessments – that is feedback and grades, but teachers will be working to support a student’s best outcome and will not be penalized if the current circumstances detract from their ability to succeed.  Marks will not drop below that attained on March 13th, when schools were declared closed.  There is however every opportunity for a mark to improve, and for learning and achievement to be enhanced.

Report Cards:

There will be a report card in June for all students and they will contain grades.  As noted above, those grades will be largely informed by the marks students had attained prior to March 13th, but there is every opportunity for those grades to improve based on any work submitted during this time of distance learning, if there is evidence of growth and/or improved performance.  In the case of graduating students, midterm marks were sent to the Universities and Colleges to assist with post-secondary admission.

Graduation:

We know that graduation is a significant event in the life of a student and his/her family. For this reason, this has been a difficult decision.  Our secondary schools have no option but to postpone graduation ceremonies as a result of venues not being available to us.  As you can appreciate secondary graduations are often large events and so they are not easily accommodated in alternate settings.  We have made the decision that all of our secondary schools will hold their graduations in the fall.  This will in no way impact a student’s ability to actually graduate from high school should they have met the requirements.  We are still in the process of finalizing our decision in relation to grade 8 graduations and will communicate that information as soon as a final decision has been achieved.

Thought Exchange – Your Voice

As most of you will be aware, we recently engaged our stakeholders in an exercise of asking them what questions or concerns they had after one-two weeks of distance learning.  Our survey closed on Tuesday April 21st in the evening and we are now starting to unpack that feedback.  We are thrilled that you took us up on this invitation.  We had just under 2000 participants and approximately 37,000 ratings from all our stakeholders.  We know that at a very high level elementary parents are expressing thoughts about the home learning environment and the types of tasks students are assigned, about feedback and assessment, and about equity.  Secondary parents are sharing thoughts about the nature of student and educator contact, and also about feedback and assessment, as well as issues related to equity.  There are roughly 14 sub-themes in the Thought Exchange feedback that we have identified and there is much more analysis we can do, and it will help to inform our thinking and actions moving forward.  A high level report on parent feedback is available at these two links, but much more will be shared in the weeks to come, that will map to themes and the take-aways from the feedback.

Parent/Guardian for an Elementary Student

Parent/Guardian for a Secondary Student

Finally – we encourage you to closely follow any and all directives from our governments and Region of Waterloo Public Health.  As a local and global community – we have never been more connected by an event or issue and now is the time to do everything we can to ensure we can soon return to life as we knew it not so long ago.  As an Easter people we believe in the power of the resurrection and the promise of new life.  Certainly this signs of the season affirm that promise.  Please reach out to us if you need help or guidance, and remain confident that we are here to support you, as we walk together as a hope-filled community.  #WCDSBTogether.

Sincerely,

Loretta Notten                                                Bill Conway

Director of Education                                  Chair of the Board

Opportunity to provide feedback & Information sessions

WCDSBLearn@Home : How are we doing?

Thank-you for joining this important conversation! We are interested in learning about how WCDSBLearn@Home is going.

The tool we are using is called ThoughtExchange. Your participation is voluntary, and your feedback will be very important for helping us make sure that we are providing the needed supports for students, staff, parents and community members.

To make sure that the conversation is about the topics most meaningful to you, we have set up separate conversations for different groups. This is why you are asked if you are a student, parent, staff member, administrator, or community member.

Here is the link: https://my.thoughtexchange.com/763676673

Once you have shared your thoughts, you will have the opportunity to read the thoughts of others and assign *STARS* based on how much you agree (5 Stars) or disagree (1 Star).  This helps us determine the ideas that are most important to the group.

We encourage all participants to read and consider 20-30 thoughts.

You can return to the exchange as often as you like to *STAR* thoughts.

PLEASE NOTE:  If you would like to join more that one conversation – choose a new group by opening the invitation link in a new tab in your web browser.

The Survey will remain open until Tuesday April 21, 2020.

If you have any difficulty with the survey, questions can be sent to: wcdsbresearch@wcdsb.ca

Parents/guardians who consent, are also welcome to share this link with their child(ren) to participate in the thought exchange.

For younger children (Grades K-8), please support them in participating as their feedback will be very important during this process.

Thank you in advance for your participation in helping us make WCDSBLearn@Home a success!

Umbrella Project Parent Webinar

Please see the attached Parent Resource for more information.

UP-WCDSBWebinarWorksheet

Securing Online Learning for Students & Teachers webinar

This is a FREE webinar for parents. Please register if you are interested.

April 16th at 11:45am — 1:00pm

https://www.seatgiantevents.ca/event/webinar-series-on-cybersecurity 

Easter Message & Updates

As we enter Easter weekend, the staff at St. Agnes are hopeful you are able to step away from work or school activities to continue spending quality time with your families. Let us find joy in the simpler things we are being invited to notice.

May the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ remind us that we are not alone and that brighter days are ahead.

We wish you a blessed Easter weekend.

Easter Prayer

Lord our God, we thank and praise you for the greatness of your love, shown to us through Jesus Christ, who was willing to die for us, to bring us into your family, and to bless us with the life that lasts forever.

We thank you for the new life we celebrate at Easter; help us to keep growing in the life that never comes to an end.

We pray for our families, our friends, and all those we care about: fill them with hope and happiness.

We pray for people who are unhappy today: those who are hungry, or homeless, those who fear violence or harm; may they find protection and peace.

We pray for those who are ill; or facing difficulties: may they find hope in the cross of Christ, and be strengthened by the knowledge of your love.

Lord, accept our prayers, and be with us now and for ever.
Amen.

WCDSBPray@Home

Please take the time to wander through this new and fantastic resource. We are not alone during this challenging time, and our faith needs nourishment now more than ever. Continue to check back on this resource as it is constantly updated.

WCDSBLearn@Home Updates

As we continue to navigate these unprecedented times, families and students will continue to be provided with regular communication from St. Agnes CES. Our hope is that regular communication will reduce the understandable anxiety students and families may be facing with respect to education at this time.

We know that our commitment to strong relationships between educators, students, and families will be critical to our students experiencing success and well-being. It has been truly heartwarming to hear the extremely positive and appreciative responses from our parents and students regarding the contact with student homes our educators are making. We know our students miss the school staff with whom they interact daily, and our staff miss their students, too.

Over the past two weeks (March 30 – April 9) St. Agnes staff have:

  • connected with our students and families
  • assessed the needs of families, students and educators as we planned for distance learning
  • continued to familiarize themselves and our families with the Ministry and WCDSBLearn@Home distance learning websites
  • initiated educator-led distance learning with students via D2L or Google Classroom (5 hrs of work/week for students in K – 6 ; 10 hrs/ week in 7 & 8)
  • engaged in capacity building of our educators & support staff (teachers, RECEs, EAs, CYCWs) to deliver distance learning for all students.

Moving from classroom learning to a distance learning model in a very short time frame is a challenge, and the WCDSB is working continuously to ensure that students have equitable opportunities to learn from home. Please know we are deeply committed to ensuring the equity of learning for all our students. Each family who has requested to borrow a school Chromebook in order to engage in the learning online has been provided a device by the principal over the past week.

To be clear, the Ministry of Education has clearly outlined that student participation in distance learning is important, and ongoing learning continues to be a ministry expectation. The process of educator-led distance learning has many forms and will continue to evolve over the weeks ahead. However, we will not be opening up virtual hangouts or chat rooms/ social interactions for students facilitated by educators. This is not our mandate. Educators are working hard to find the important balance between engaging students in meaningful work without overwhelming students and families. We are grateful for your patience as teachers learn how to manage a virtual learning environment for all students in very stressful times for families. We are doing our best to do right by your children during these unprecedented times.

We appreciate there are questions regarding assessment, evaluation or timelines for curriculum goals. School boards across Ontario are receiving regular updates from the Ministry of Education with respect to these, and many other, questions. Families are encouraged to check the FAQ page of WCDSBLearn@Home for up to date information. Here, you will find important tips for parents as well as important Mental Health information and Additional Learning Resources.

Continue to monitor our website, Newswire, and Twitter @StAgnesCES for school specific information. If you have questions about classroom related work or expectations please contact your child’s teacher directly.

On behalf of the entire staff, we wish everyone a happy and blessed Easter. Please see the information below for live streaming services from the church.

Be well and God Bless…

Mrs. Tonya Reesor

Principal

 

Live Streamed Mass from St Agnes Chapel

Father Aleks will celebrate Holy Mass every Monday to Friday at 7:00 PM, and Saturday & Sunday at 10:00 AM. Mass will be accessible live through Zoom Video Conferencing. Zoom can be loaded on your phone, tablet, or computer.

Connecting to the on-line Mass has changed. You now need the zoom link and a special password to view the Mass.

To obtain this required password, you need to send an email to stagnesmass@gmail.com requesting the password.

You will receive an email reply within 5 minutes containing the password.  If you do not get a response within 5 minutes please check your email spam or junk mail folder.

Short prayer requests may be emailed to stagnesintentions@gmail.com. These petitions will be read 5 minutes before the start of Holy Mass each day.

To view Holy Mass or Stations of the Cross on your smartphone, download the “Zoom Cloud Meetings” app, available on the App Store and Google Play.

Please join us five minutes early to ensure that you have a little time to work out any difficulties connecting. You can also test your connection at any time by clicking the link. If you see a message that states “Please wait for the host to start this meeting”, your system is ready for Mass!

Holy Week mass schedule

 

Updated WCDSBLearn@Home Website

Beginning today, April 6th, what the Ministry of Education is calling “Phase 2” or “Educator-Led” Learning will commence at the Waterloo Catholic District School Board. Schools will continue to be closed but learning will continue — involving a combination of distance learning tools for students.

Please visit our special WCDSBLearn@Home website for information and resources complied to support the government’s plan.

The resources on this site can supplement and support Educator-led learning. You may not need all of these resources, but if you find yourself needing assistance with creating a positive learning environment for your children, we hope they can provide some assistance.

Under the Educator-led learning plan, the government has outlined the minimum expectations for student work-time in a given week, based on learning materials and work assigned by your student’s teacher. These expectations, for each teacher, include:

  • Kindergarten to grade three: Five hours of work per student per week, with a focus on literacy and math;
  • Grades four to six: Five hours of work per week, with a focus on literacy, math, science, and social studies;
  • Grades seven to eight: 10 hours of work per week, with a focus on math, literacy, science and social studies; and,
  • Grades nine to 12: Three hours of work per course per week for semestered students, and 1.5 hours of work per course per week for non-semestered students, with a focus on credit accumulation and graduation.

The WCDSBLearn@Home website will be updated on an ongoing basis, so please visit often.

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