Welcome To Virtual School

Dear Families,

Welcome to BGCDSB Virtual School! We are excited to begin a new school year and I am certain that you are anxious to hear of our plans to provide distance learning to your child(ren) this year. My name is Mr. Greg McLean and I am your child’s virtual school Principal. I am hoping that this memo will answer your questions and address many important topics that you will need to know as a family in our virtual school.

VIRTUAL SCHOOL mission and vision
Our virtual school is grounded in our Board Mission, Committed to a vibrant Catholic education, we ensure quality learning experiences through community partnerships that nurture each student in body, mind and spirit and embrace the teachings of Christ, giving witness to Gospel values and our Board Vision of Let Your Light Shine! All of our curriculum is based on the Ontario Curriculum documents and taught through the lens of our faith and which reflect our Catholic Graduate Expectations.

Currently, we have approximately 300 students in our Elementary Virtual School. Your child will be placed in a grade-appropriate classroom with students across the system who have joined the virtual school. Your child’s teacher will reach out shortly to introduce him/herself and welcome your child to the class. Please watch for an email in the next few days.

We are very busy preparing and planning for an engaging distance learning education for your child(ren). It is my hope that we will be ready to welcome your child(ren) online by Wednesday, September 16, 2020. Please ensure that your child has access to a device and wifi as there will be live/synchronous lessons with the teacher each day. If you are in need of a device, please contact me as soon as possible.

VIRTUAL SCHOOL Opt-out expectations
I realize that many of you struggled with the decision to send your child back to in-person learning or remain in distance learning. This is quite understandable given the challenging circumstances we are all faced with. To this end, I understand that some of you may not want to continue with distance learning after a few days of trying it out; therefore, the Bruce-Grey Catholic School Board has outlined some guidelines by which families can opt back into in-person learning if they so desire. Please note that if you wish for your child to return to in-person learning throughout the month of September, I ask that you inform me and also inform your home school principal of the date on which your child would like to start. The possible dates to return to in-person learning are: September 21, September 28 or October 5, 2020. Following Thanksgiving (October 12, 2020), if your child continues to be a student in the virtual school, the next date that he/she can return to in-person learning will be at the end of Term 1, which is February 2, 2021.

VIRTUAL SCHOOL virtual environment
The Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board uses Google Suite in all Elementary classrooms. Last spring, your child(ren) most likely was part of an online classroom called Google Classroom or had a Class Google Site. Our virtual school will continue to use the Google platform to deliver online education. Please reach out to your child’s teacher or myself should you require any technical support throughout distance learning. Additionally, the Ministry of Education recently announced in PPM 164 that all students will participate in synchronous and asynchronous learning activities each day.

What is synchronous learning? Learning that happens in real time. It involves using tech, video or voice communication in a way that enables educators and other members of the school or board-based team to instruct and connect with students in real time. Synchronous learning supports the well-being and academic achievement of all students, including students with special education needs, by providing educators and students with an interactive and engaging way to learn. It helps teachers provide immediate feedback to students and enables students to interact with one another.

What is asynchronous learning? Learning that is not delivered in real time. Asynchronous learning may involve students watching pre-recorded video lessons, completing assigned tasks, or contributing to online discussion boards.

PPM 164 outlines the expectations for school boards to follow for their distance learning programs, including the number of minutes of live/synchronous instruction that is required each day. Each student is expected to attend a full day of online learning. The chart below outlines the expectations for live/synchronous lessons:

Daily Minimum Synchronous Learning Time Requirement*
Minutes of Instruction per day
Daily Minimum Synchronous Learning Time Requirement*
180 minutes
Minutes of Instruction per day
300 minutes

Grades 1 to 3
Daily Minimum Synchronous Learning Time Requirement*
225 minutes
Minutes of Instruction per day
300 minutes

Grades 4 to 8
Daily Minimum Synchronous Learning Time Requirement*
225 minutes
Minutes of Instruction per day
300 minutes

Please note that the synchronous learning requirements can take the form of whole class, or small group instruction. When your child(ren) is not online, he/she will have opportunities to take a body break, have a snack, complete an independent activity, go outside, etc. It is important that he/she participates in all scheduled activities as would be expected during in-person learning. The school day will start at 9:00am and end at 3:00pm. Please see the attached examples of what a typical online learning day would look like:



Exemptions from full synchronous learning: Families can request an exemption from the minimum requirements for synchronous learning via email or letter. Requests must be made in writing to the Principal. To support student learning, alternative approaches will be put in place for all exempted students (print materials for example), that is based on the individual student needs and situation. Exempted students will be provided with a schedule/timetable in accordance with the 300-minute instructional day.

VIRTUAL SCHOOL attendance expectations
Students are expected to attend school each day in a virtual school environment ready to learn. The virtual teacher will take attendance each morning and afternoon. If your child will be absent from virtual school on a given day, parents/caregivers are expected to contact the office administrator the morning or afternoon of the absence so that safe arrival protocols can be followed.

VIRTUAL SCHOOL assessment and evaluation
While students are engaged in distance learning, student learning will be assessed and evaluated on a regular basis and there will be frequent opportunities for teachers to provide timely and descriptive feedback. Kindergarten students will receive the Communication of Learning: Initial Observations report in November and the Communication of Learning Report 1 in February and Report 2 in June. Students in Gr. 1 - 8 will receive a progress report in November and a Ontario Provincial Report card Term 1 in February and Term 2 in June.

VIRTUAL SCHOOL for students with special education needs
Students with special education needs will continue to be provided with the necessary accommodations and modifications outlined in their Individual Education Plan (IEP). Students with SEA claims will continue to have access to assistive technology and programs. Students who receive support from an Educational Assistant or System Support Team eg. Speech Language Pathologist, Social Worker, will continue to receive this support virtually.

Please reach out at any time if you have any further questions at [email protected]. I look forward to working with you this year!


Greg McLean

cc/Cathy DeGoey, Superintendent of Education