Charlottetown Family of Schools District Advisory Council
Members for 2020-21: Shannon Bruyneel (Colonel Gray PEIHSF Regional Director), Karma McCallum (Queen Charlotte Intermediate), Karu Bate (Parkdale Elementary), Boulaye Fofana (Spring Park Elementary), Emma Fugate (West Kent Elementary), Vanessa Ford (West Royalty Elementary), Vanda Deighan (West Royalty Teacher), Tara Roche (Donagh Regional), Tracy Willoughby (Charlottetown Rural), Michael Stanley (Charlottetown Rural PEIHSF Regional Director), Andrea Richard (Glen Stewart Primary), Darla Farquharson (LM Montgomery Elementary), Katie Beck (Sherwood Elementary), Patrick Ross (Stratford Elementary), Treena Hann (Stratford Elementary Teacher), Jack Wheeler (Stonepark Intermediate), Richard MacEwan (Prince Street Elementary), Mairin Arsenault (Charlottetown Rural Student), Camryn Donnelly (Colonel Gray Student), Destiny Fraser (Colonel Gray Student)
Vacant: Colonel Gray High School, Birchwood Intermediate, St. Jean Elementary
December 3, 2020, WebEx Meeting
Guests: Sterling Carruthers, School Health Specialist, Katelyn MacLean, School Food Project Manager, Pam Van Horn (Parkdale Elementary)
Meeting chair: Katie Beck
Discussion and Outcomes
Healthy School Food Program Presentation
- The team gave a history of the Healthy School Food Program, including the pilot program from Feb-June 2020 and COVID-19 Food Security Program that took place while schools were closed.
- They outlined the goals of the program
- Making healthy and affordable meal options available for all students
- Providing support to ensure equitable access for all students
- Providing food literacy opportunities for all students
- The pilot program has continued for the 2020-21 school year.
- The interim program started in September 2020. There are three models underway:
- In-house food service
- Food service by an external vendor using the Healthy School Food Program menu
- Food service by and internal/external vendor using their own menu
- About 115,000 meals were ordered in the first six meal periods.
- The Healthy School Food Program will transition to a non-profit organization in September 2021.
- This organization will continue to receive funding and support from the provincial government, but will rely on food sales and donations to operate.
- Successes include overall acceptance of the program, healthy and affordable meal options are available for all students, using local foods, ensuring equitable access, and supporting local vendors and the economy.
- Challenges include the short time line from program start to implementation, working with different vendors, and having the same menu across all communities.
- The team is developing a new menu for January.
- The team has received lots of feedback over the past months. They are hoping to incorporate this feedback into the new menu.
These points were made in the following discussion
- The team has the information about how many students are using the program on a weekly basis, but this information is not publicly available yet. A data analyst is helping to compile the information. Schools receive reports on participation. The team will explore sending reports to Home and School groups and DACs in the future.
- There have been some issues within the DAC schools with food waste and consistency.
- The program provides standard recipes to the vendors. The team is working with the vendors on ensuring consistency.
- The team would love to see different menus and portion sizes for different grade levels, but the logistics are challenging for the vendors.
- The DAC would like to see higher quality food and more locally sourced food.
- The team is hoping in the future to engage the Department of Agriculture and Land to help link suppliers and producers to the program. They also consider seasonality and ingredients that can be purchased locally when developing menu items.
- The ordering system has a reminder that the food is valued at $5. This may make people feel guilty if they are unable to pay the full amount.
- There is a plan for the provincial government to provide an operational grant to the new non-profit to support the organization until it can be supported by its own donations and revenue.
- There has been less revenue than hoped from the program so far. The pandemic may be causing financial stress for families.
- The provincial government has a strong commitment to the program. Even if the revenues are lower than expected, there are some good economic spin-offs for local vendors.
- The new menu to start in January will be the final menu for the school year. The non-profit may change or keep the menu starting in September 2021.
- Menu development involves collection of feedback, commercial kitchen testing and scaling up recipes, and analysis to ensure that recipes are cost-effective while meeting requirements. It can be challenging to design a menu that works for all regions and is adaptable for food allergies or preferences.
- The new menu will be more familiar to students, to build trust and buy in for the program. 60-75% of the food items will be different from the fall menu. The new menu items will be shared publicly this month.
- The two-week ordering window will remain in place. The team is willing to explore changing this in the future.
- All menus and ingredients are listed on the government web page
- There is always a risk of cross-contamination, so the program can’t guarantee that the food is allergen free.
- There is a Healthy School Food Program email address and phone line to help parents and walk them through the process.
- Phone: 902-438-4895
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Updates on previous topics
- To date, the wait list for Psych Ed Assessments has been reduced from 3.5 to 1.75 years. The Psychologists are currently working on assessing students that were assigned up to January-March, 2019 with some still active from Fall, 2018.
- The DAC would like to know whether these numbers are from the board list or the school list.
- The DAC would also like to know whether there are any plans to increase the numbers for referrals.
- Extending the kindergarten glasses program to other grades.
- The DAC would like to know whether there is any way to extend this program to continue to other grades.
- The DAC would also like information about how the Dental Pathways program was started, and would like to explore whether this model could work for extending the glasses program to other grades.
- The DAC would also like to explore how to communicate to parents that audiology assessments are free and that they can get a referral.
- Homework policy
- The homework policy work was postponed due to COVID-19. The department will resume this committee work once they are able to reconvene.
- The DAC would like to know who is on the homework committee.
- UPDATE: The PSB needs to reestablish the membership as several have either changed positions or retired. These new appointments will likely be made by the end of January. While this work is important to the PSB, preparations for remote learning have been the main priority and much of their previous work has been delayed.
- Class composition versus class size
- DACs can access Our School Survey data (which is shared with Home and Schools) including enrollment and class size data.
- Data on class composition is school based and protected by privacy
- Family of schools class composition data would be challenging to gather as it is individualized to each classroom.
- The DAC determined that this information about students and their needs is difficult to access and would be hard to move forward on.
- The PSB had begun to review the current policy and procedure, to determine if changes are needed to better support students, families and schools with absenteeism.
- The PSB was monitoring data and analyzing it to determine if there were trends or patterns that could be mitigated.
- The PSB had begun planning a communication strategy with the public around the importance of student attendance and its impacts on academic achievement and social/emotional growth.
- Currently, the PSB is monitoring attendance closely, in particular the illness reasons that are reported. They have added an attendance code to track any reported "COVID-like symptoms". They have been regularly reviewing the system data to determine if any patterns or trends exist.
- The PSB has discussed the attendance policy/procedures with school principals several times this year, and how COVID is impacting absenteeism. They plan to continue with the work reviewing the policy once they are able.
- The DAC would like to know if policies on absenteeism or number of missed days have been adjusted due to COVID.
- UPDATE: The policy has not been adjusted officially, however the PSB has opted not to send the 10, 15, 20 day letters unless they have concerns that the absences are not COVID related.
These points were made in the following discussion:
- The DAC would like to know whether it is possible to have a meeting this year with all of the DACs.
- It may be possible to have a meeting with 1-2 reps per DAC to stay within COVID gathering limits.
- The DAC would also like to look into having junior high reps on the DAC for next year.
Working groups for the year
- Mental health, school operational plans and the healthy school lunch program are three key topics shared among several DACs
- The Home and School Federation is discussing issues around availability of substitutes and EAs. It was suggested that this could be a working group topic for the Charlottetown DAC as well.
- Mental health is a key topic for the Charlottetown DAC
- The Engagement Officer will look into having the two Student Well-Being Teams present at the next DAC meeting on mental health.
- The Engagement Officer facilitated a group discussion to answer the following questions:
- What are the challenges or barriers associated with mental health in schools?
- What are the potential solutions?
- What are some next steps that could be made towards these solutions as a DAC?
September 28, 2020, WebEx Meeting
Guest: John Cummings, Executive Director, Department of Education and Lifelong Learning
Discussion and Outcomes
- The Engagement Officer will continue to develop the meeting agenda and organize DAC meetings, bring forward concerns raised by other DACs, and help elevate concerns to create a coordinated response.
- The DAC will use the chat feature to establish order of speaking in virtual meetings. The person wanting to speak next will add a question mark to the group chat, and the engagement officer will invite individuals to speak in that order.
- A member from the DAC will act as the meeting chair on a rotating basis.
- Members who are interested in being a meeting chair for one meeting will email the Engagement Officer.
- The DAC will form topic-specific working groups that will have separate meetings and report on their work at the main DAC meetings.
- The Charlottetown DAC will work with other DACs on topics of shared interest.
- The DAC also agreed to the following ways of working together:
- Ways of working together can be changed at any time.
- Everyone has a role in enforcing the ground rules.
- Speak up if you tend to be more quiet, speak less to give others a chance to share if you tend to speak more.
- Listen when others speak, and don’t interrupt.
- Seek first to understand before jumping to conclusions.
- When uncertain about someone’s intent, ask questions to try and understand where they are coming from.
- Treat each other with kindness and tolerance.
- Questions raised by members at DAC meetings will be addressed during the meeting or following the meeting and directed to the appropriate individual or group (i.e. Department, PSB, Minister).
Anne Rooban, Engagement Officer for the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning, gave an overview presentation on the role of the DACs.
- Mandate of the DACs is to help shape an education system that is focused on and meets the needs of learners. The role of DACs is:
- to advise the Minister of Education on educational priorities for the District;
- to engage school communities in discussions;
- to foster collaboration among school councils, home and school associations and the community.
- Responsibilities of membership:
- Report concerns of your local Home and School to the DAC;
- Provide leadership in identifying priorities to focus on;
- Work collaboratively with members;
- Report back to your local Home and School the discussions and outcomes of DAC meetings.
These points were made in the following discussion:
- Actions brought forward from the last Charlottetown DAC meeting in 2019 include:
- Psych Ed assessments - schools were funding eye checks and hearing tests to reduce wait times.
- Extending the kindergarten glasses program to other grades.
- Dental Pathways – the DAC requested more information on this program.
- Web policy and homework policy.
- Class composition versus class size.
- Some of these priorities may shift now with a greater focus now on COVID related issues.
- The Department encourages DACs to focus on cross-school topics.
- The Engagement Officer will note any issues specific to schools in the minutes and they will be addressed outside of the DAC meeting.
- These issues may be forwarded to the Department or PSB, depending on the topic.
School operational plans
- Students in the elementary grades are doing well with wearing masks.
- There is a lack of opportunities for students to be outdoors while at school for junior and senior high students. There is very little outdoor education happening, and many physical education classes are not holding classes outdoors.
- The DAC would like the PSB to know about these concerns with outdoor education and emphasize the value of being outside.
- UPDATE: The PSB will continue to work at the branch level to encourage schools to embrace outdoor learning opportunities.
- Parents are concerned about physical distancing at the junior and senior high levels. When students leave school grounds at lunchtime, they do not stay in their cohorts or practice physical distancing.
- The DAC would like to highlight these concerns, and to ask the PSB to explore how the school operational plans can align better with the plans in place for public health.
- There have been some issues with the registration process for the Healthy School Lunch Program.
- Parent drop offs and pick-ups at Glen Stewart Elementary are not aligning well with the operational plan. There are also screens on windows that are missing, making airflow in the school challenging.
- Access to water in some schools is an issue. Sometimes cohorts can’t access the filling station in another part of the school. One school is unable to install filling stations purchased by the home and school because the plumbers are busy with other school repairs and projects.
Topics for discussion
- Mental health
- More support for students and teachers.
- Front loading education
- Is this working for teachers, students and parents?
- School operational plans
- What are the policies and are they being implemented consistently?
- Issues include cohorts, access to water, lunchtime/access to food, absenteeism, processes related to COVID symptoms, transportation, reporting systems or procedures for non-compliance
- Shortages of substitute teachers, bus drivers, and EAs
- Students with specials needs may need to be sent home due to absences not being filled.
- Healthy School Lunch Program
- Issues including allergies, vegan options, nutritional labels, feedback for menu options.
- Outdoor Education
- How to increase opportunities for outdoor education at the junior and senior high levels.
- Remote Learning
- Issues include assessment of student work, use of technology and online tools, readiness, how to better support students (including students with additional needs and their mental health), extending special needs supports remotely.
- Healthier schools
- Issues include water filling stations, screens in windows, air quality, school maintenance.
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