The school year has now ended and I think we can all take a collective deep breath to proclaim with pride that “we made it.” In a term unlike any other, we faced unprecedented challenges that put us all to the test. Having said that, I firmly believe that we managed to offer a very robust online education to our students from the beginning of the closure, and I thank you all for the messages of support that you have sent us over.
While the future is still somewhat uncertain, Ontario’s Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, has recently outlined the government’s plans for the autumn. Of the different scenarios envisaged by Mr. Lecce, our aim at TFS is to continue to focus on academics and physically open the school to all students on both campuses in September, even if this will obviously require a number of adjustments so as to be able to offer the safest possible environment for all concerned. In the event that any families choose to keep their children at home, we will provide appropriate academic support.
The adjustments I was referring to may involve temporary changes to our daily schedule to allow for staggered arrival and departure times. Many groups are likely to be split so that there are fewer students assigned to each teaching space, which means that we will need to invest in human resources and turn certain areas on campus into classrooms to accommodate everyone safely. We are also looking into the possibility of renting other classrooms in a location close to our Toronto campus so that our oldest students can have the best possible experience and develop the intellectual rigour needed to face their international examinations with confidence at the end of the school year. Principals will provide details specific to each branch later on in the summer. In late August we will hold another virtual Assemblée des parents to brief you more directly and more thoroughly on the plans for the fall. Between now and then, please rest assured that my leadership team and I will continue to monitor the evolution of the pandemic, as well as the advice of the education and health authorities, so that we can reconsider and amend our procedures accordingly, if need be. Before officially closing the past school year, I would like to acknowledge a number of people without whose support we would not have been able to pass the test: our parents, who amply demonstrated their resilience throughout the final term; our staff, who were highly professional in the delivery of the curriculum and maintained their care and good humour; and our students who, despite their young lives being altered in important ways, continued to engage positively in their learning. My leadership team has worked without respite to bring about the best online learning program possible while keeping an eye firmly on the future to ensure a safe and successful physical return to school in September. Given the importance of ritual to mark life’s essential moments, they have done their best to reinvent the graduation ceremonies of the different transition years so that students could have a sense of closure. We are also eagerly anticipating the return of the Class of 2020 to our school grounds in October so that we can celebrate our beloved traditions related to the Level V Graduation. On the last day of classes, a teacher said to me that a number of his students had expressed a certain sadness that it was the end of the school year and they even asked him if he was going to continue to be their teacher in September. Of course, in the hope that he would be! As you can imagine, those remarks put a smile on my face, as they are testimony to the fact that teachers have managed to maintain an ethical presence despite their physical absence, a sense of proximity in their cyber-distance, a touching solicitude during these times of uncertainty and perturbation. As it could not be otherwise, I wish to express my most heartfelt gratitude to them for that. Without further ado, let me pronounce this strangest of school years ended, and let me wish that your holidays be filled with the affection of family and friends in this most favoured of Canadian seasons. Until autumn, when we shall meet again.