Welcoming Students Back To School – September 2021
We look forward to welcoming your child back to school in September 2021. As a School Board, we remain committed to providing safe and engaging classrooms for all our students and staff. We know students excel at school, where they can connect with their friends and educators. We have already begun to plan for the new school year and are excited at what the new school year will bring.
Time Sensitive Information
We wanted to make sure our parent community is as up-to-date in the planning process as possible. Here is what we know so far. The Ministry of Education advised all School Boards to plan for a typical in-person school year for September. Currently, there is no new government funding for virtual schools next year. We recognize a small number of our students learn best in the online environment, so the OCSB will use existing school funds to create three new Virtual Schools for September 2021.
Virtual Schools Will Look Different in September
Our goal will be to create three new permanent Virtual Schools, each with its own dedicated administration team and school name. We will add these three schools to our existing 83 stand-alone schools. Students attending Virtual Schools will join other virtual students from across the city and form a virtual Catholic School community.
Our new Virtual Schools are intended for students who learn best in the online environment. This is meant to be a permanent change, not a temporary learning solution before returning to in-person learning. After starting virtual school next year, if you find that this is not the best learning environment for your child, you may request a Transfer Between Schools. Please note a Transfer Between Schools is not guaranteed. It can only happen if there is room for your child at the school, and the change will not require a classroom to close or staffing changes at either school.
Overview of Proposed Changes Elementary (Kindergarten to Grade 6)
At the virtual elementary level, all students will have a regular school day. Virtual School will start at 9:00 am and end at 3:30 pm. Most regular programming will be available, including virtual extracurricular clubs and activities. However, their classmates will come from OCSB schools across our Board. The virtual program for Kindergarten will offer some French Instruction. However, French Immersion programming for students in Kindergarten will only be provided in-person. Virtual Kindergarten is the only program where there is a change to French instruction. Virtual students in grades 1 to 12 will have the same French-language programming we offer in person.
Overview of Proposed Changes Intermediate (Grades 7 & 8)
Our intermediate programming will be consistent with our in-person school. Virtual Intermediate (7 & 8) will follow a 9:15 am – 3:25 pm schedule. The extracurricular clubs and activities will be offered in a virtual environment. Sports will be via eSports.
Overview of Proposed Changes Secondary (Grade 9 to 12)
The Virtual High School Program will offer a full selection of courses in each grade level. Just like our in-person high school, your child will follow a two-semester, four courses per semester model. School will start for Virtual High School students at 9:15 am and end at 3:25 pm. Similar to an in-person school, course demand will determine which courses run. Most courses that rely on hands-on experiences, including the Specialist High Skills Major programs, will only be offered in-person. Grade 9 Phys-Ed is a compulsory course and will be delivered virtually for those who choose the virtual school. Extracurricular sporting activities in the virtual program will be provided through eSports competitions.
This year’s experience shows special education system classes best meet students’ needs in an in-person environment. System classes will be offered in person only next year.
Register for Virtual School Now
Virtual School Registration February 12-25
Parents and guardians, if you plan to send your child to an OCSB Virtual School in September 2021, this is a year-long commitment. Please fill out the registration form below by February 25, 2021.
We will automatically be moving all students back to their in-person school for next fall unless you register your child for Virtual School. You do not need to register if your child will be returning to in-person school unless you are new to the Ottawa Catholic School Board.
We know this is a difficult decision for families to make at this time. Unfortunately, to ensure we can offer a viable Virtual Program, you need to decide by February 25, 2021, if you’re choosing virtual learning for your child next year.
As a school system, we must plan for September 2021 to hire teachers, schedule classes, and offer course selections. All of our schools begin assigning staff for next year based on the current projected number of students. If you register and commit to virtual school now, it will allow us to appropriately staff the school and provide time to personalize your child’s timetables as needed to meet their learning needs.
What We Do Know
Safety is a Priority
Our schools remain safe and caring places. We will continue to follow Ottawa Public Health’s advice and work with our students to educate them on the importance of social distancing practices, washing their hands and letting their educators know if they feel unwell. Most health authorities believe schools are not only safe but promote mental, emotional and physical well-being.
Students Thrive In School
We believe in-person learning is the best way to meet students’ needs next year, as we move further away from the pandemic conditions that we worked through this year. Being in school gives students a chance to build meaningful relationships with their classmates. We have found that, for most students, student attendance and engagement is significantly higher when students are learning in-person. Being at school with a supportive educator team helps students develop deeper understandings of the material and allows students to connect with, problem solve, and network with other students.
Commitment to Excellence
We remain hopeful you will decide to send your children back to in-person school in September. The one thing that will never change is the quality of Catholic education your child will receive either virtually or in-person. Your child will have dedicated educators committed to ensuring their academic success and well-being no matter what learning format you chose.