The Legislative Assembly of Ontario now has eight days left before the Winter Recess, which begins after the session concludes on December 9, 2021. The government has not introduced any new pieces of legislation since their Fall Economic Statement-related bill, and most of their other bills are coming back to the House next week for Third Reading and Royal Assent. Solicitor General Sylvia Jones has put forward a motion, which passed, to extend the province’s emergency pandemic powers through the end of March 2022 (they were to conclude  December 1, 2021.) This timing would align with the government’s plan to lift all remaining COVID-19 restrictions by March.

2022-23 Grants For Student Needs (GSN)

OPSBA will be send its submission to the Ministry of Education this week. The Association’s work teams are meeting to review the current draft that includes the Association’s response to the 2022-23 Education Funding Guide and our Priority Funding Areas. Our submission reflects feedback from students, trustees, the OPSBA Indigenous Trustees’ Council, member board business officials, and senior OPSBA staff. Similar to past practice, we have also connected with the Council of Senior Business Officials (COSBO) and are aligned in our Guide recommendations. Once final, our submission will also be submitted as part of the government’s 2022 Budget Consultations.

Capital Priorities Program

On November 23, 2021, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced newly approved Capital Priorities Program projects that include the creation of 26 new schools and 20 renovations, along with 32 renovations to child care centres. Some boards have received direct notification about their approved projects and additional local announcements are expected over the next few weeks.

See the news release, Ontario Building and Improving Schools

Bullying Prevention and Intervention

In recognition of Bullying Prevention and Intervention Week, the Ministry of Education has issued a memo regarding a Revised Policy/Program Memorandum No.144: Bullying Prevention and Intervention, as well as resources for school boards and resources for parents. As part of the Education Act, the week beginning on the third Sunday in November of each year is proclaimed as Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week.

See the news release, Ontario Combats Bullying in Schools

See the revised PPM 144: Bullying prevention and intervention

Policy/Program Memorandum 166: Keeping Students Safe: Policy Framework for School Board Anti-Sex Trafficking Protocols

In July 2021, the Ministry of Education released PPM 166: Keeping Students Safe: Policy Framework for School Board Anti-Sex Trafficking Protocols. It followed legislation that was introduced by the Solicitor General, Sylvia Jones in the spring and a separate consultation with the education sector, “to inform the development of an anti-human trafficking policy framework for the provincially-funded education sector.” OPSBA’s Policy Development Work Team did meet to discuss how schools can play a role in protecting students against trafficking and how to support survivors and sent a submission in March.  PPM 166 applies to district school boards, school authorities, and provincial and demonstration schools, including those operated by Centre Jules-Léger Consortium. It requires school boards to develop local protocols that are to be in place for January 31, 2022. OPSBA recognizes that many boards have resources to develop their own materials, but a draft protocol template has been created as a resource for boards to use if they wish and adapt locally.

COVID-19 Update / Return to School Fall 2021

As of the morning of November 26, 1,489 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in publicly funded schools in the past 14 days. Of those cases, 1,338 are students, 145 are staff, and six are not identified. Sixteen of the 4,844 schools in the province are currently closed.

On November 22, following Health Canada’s approval of the paediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, it was announced that children aged five to 11 would be eligible to book their appointment to receive the vaccine beginning November 23. Children in this age bracket have now already started receiving their first doses. Approximately one million children aged five to 11 are eligible to receive the vaccine. To book an appointment online, children must be turning five years old by the end of 2021 (born in 2016). Vaccination appointments can be scheduled through a variety of channels including the COVID-19 vaccination portal and contact centre, directly through public health units using their own booking system, participating pharmacies which individuals can find on Ontario’s website using the pharmacy locator, and select primary care providers.

See the Ministry of Education memo regarding communication supports for the vaccination of five to 11-year-olds for school boards, as well as information from the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Other News Releases and Information