May 20, 2020
This communique is to provide information about student learning supports and preparing for the next school year following the Province of Ontario’s announcement from May 19, 2020, that public schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year in order to protect student health and safety during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Impact on First Nations-Operated Schools
In keeping with its previous announcements of the postponement of the school year, this order was extended to private schools as well, as defined and regulated by the Province of Ontario under the Education Act . As such, it is expected that the Ministry of Education will provide further notice that First Nations/Federally-Funded Schools are to remain closed for the rest of the school year.
The Ministry of Education also announced that a plan will be shared later in the summer to strengthen learning and safety protocols to enable students and staff to return to in-class instruction for the 2020-21 school year. ISC Ontario Region will ensure that this plan, once available, is shared widely for the benefit of First Nations-operated schools.
Should you have any questions on the impact of this announcement and other Ministry of Education resources to help support students at this time, please contact the Indigenous Education Office of the Ministry of Education at email@example.com.
Please also refer to the attached manual offering guidelines for re-entry into the school setting during the Pandemic, authored by the North American Center for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response. We trust that these guidelines may prove helpful in advance preparation for re-integrating students into the classroom ahead of the 2020-21 school year.
Supports for Students attending First Nations Schools:
We have been receiving questions about the availability and distribution of devices and learning materials for students to continue studies while schools are closed. We encourage communities to work with parents to understand the technology available for students at home, and if school devices or materials can be loaned out to students so they may continue their studies. ISC elementary/secondary funding continues to flow, which allows teachers to provide learning plans for students in order to close out the school year. The Indigenous Community Support Fund was also provided to all communities, and can be used to fund educational and other support for children as an eligible expense. Further details on the Community Support Fund can be found at:
To help offset the costs of learning at home or for providing care for their children, parents are encouraged to apply to the Ministry of Education’s Support for Families Fund: https://www.ontario.ca/page/get-support-families. This is available to students of on-reserve schools. If you have any questions, please contact the Indigenous Education Office of the Ministry of Education at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, ISC core funding for education can also be used to meet student learning needs, as necessary. Should you have further questions on how to make use of the ISC Elementary/Secondary Education program funding to meet student needs at this time, please contact ISC Ontario Region Education Program Officer, Owen Zoccole at email@example.com
We can understand that obtaining the necessary devices may be a challenge at this time. In reference to the recent Ontario announcement regarding accessibility to home learning, the Ontario Education Collaborative Marketplace may be able to provide further assistance on how to access and order technology. For more information, please contact John Sabo at firstname.lastname@example.org and Karen Owen at email@example.com.
The Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission also has an application-based Broadband Fund, details of which were shared with First Nations and Tribal Councils in the fall. For more information on this 5-year program, please visit: https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/internet/internet.htm
Please be advised that 2020-2021 education funding will continue to flow without interruption and initial allocations have been processed. Letters detailing the full 2020-2021 were provided to Chief and Councils on April 30, 2020. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your 2020-21 Elementary/Secondary Education Funding Allocations, please contact ISC Ontario Region Education Program Officer, Rob St. Pierre, at Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org
Supports for Students attending Provincial Schools:
Although provincial school closures are in effect, ISC will continue to provide tuition funding to First Nations to support students attending provincial/private schools off-reserve. You are encouraged to work with the school board to ensure supports for students living on-reserve that attend provincial schools. The Ministry of Education is working with students and communities on a case-by-case basis to provide innovative program delivery. If you have any questions, please contact the Indigenous Education Office of the Ministry of Education at email@example.com.
In the event that a school board is unable to provide continued education services to students, First Nations are encouraged to dialogue with the school board regarding ongoing payment of tuition, depending on the stipulations outlined in the existing education service agreement. Tuition funding continues to be provided on invoices and the eligible amount is based on the school board where the student has been attending.
On April 17, 2020, the Ministry of Education announced, “Ontario Establishes Key Partnerships to Make Home Learning More Accessible.” Under this initiative, Apple is working with the province to provide iPads to students for home learning for those enrolled in provincial schools. Apple and Rogers is working together to conduct an assessment of need for the distribution of these devices. For more questions about this initiative, please contact Ralph Kamuf, National Education Manager at Apple Canada, by telephone at 647-943-4606 / 416-414-9508, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I trust this information is helpful.
Director, Education and Social Programs
Indigenous Services Canada