November 2020 Parent Council Update

We appreciate everyone who has attended the first two virtual Council meetings this year.  Here are some highlights and important updates for anyone who missed them.  At the October 29th meeting the budget for this year was approved.  Council’s focus this year is to provide Committee enrichment programming and to support our teachers in their classrooms along with advocating for a safe school environment. The next meeting is Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 7pm (virtual meeting).  If there is anything you would like to have added to the agenda, please let us know via email by end of day Friday, November 20th at runnymedeps@gmail.com.

EVENTS & COUNCIL ENRICHMENT PROGRAMMING

While Council is not able to organize and run in person events right now, Council Committees have been working on enrichment programs that can take place for in school and virtual students.

Green Committee will be running its amazing Green Teacher Winter and Spring sessions and increasing the number of grades receiving this programming to make up for any lost sessions from last year.  They are also making repairs to the Hillside Garden, supporting the school Green Team and purchasing new kindergarten play equipment and grade 1-5 recess enhancements. 

Arts Committee is rolling out their schoolwide collaborative art project with each Runnymede student producing a piece that will become an amazing outdoor installation for the whole community to enjoy.

STEM Committee is working on a webpage with activities families can do at home as well as working with teachers to make sure any of the math manipulatives and STEM activity kits are available for use in classrooms.

Spirit Committee Pizza Lunches are not able to run right now.  Last Spring, the final three pizza lunches were deferred to this year, however we are not sure when or if those will be able to happen.  Instead we are asking families to consider donating last year’s pizza lunches so the remaining funds can be used now to support our Teachers Resource Fund.  Teachers Resource Fund (TRF) is Council’s way of supporting and supplementing teachers within their classroom by allocating money they can use to purchase additional supplies, resources or partner with enrichment program providers (i.e. Scientist in the School, etc.).  If you would prefer a refund for the three cancelled lunches from last Spring, please email Runnymede Parent Council at runnymedeps@gmail.comwith your receipt. (It may take a few weeks to fulfill any refund requests).

COUNCIL ADVOCACY

Ventilation concerns:

Council asked the TDSB about whether Runnymede has adequate ventilation.  We received an email noting that certain schools were going to be given HEPA units and priority had been given to schools without mechanical ventilation systems.  Runnymede was not on that list so we asked for additional details regarding what type of mechanical ventilation Runnymede has.  Julio, Runnymede’s head caretaker, provided us with a complete overview of Runnymede’s mechanical systems.  All classrooms do have mechanical ventilation.  There are a few different systems, some completely independent and some connected to the main boiler system with their own independent intake/exhaust.  The majority are old systems, but they are generally well maintained and provide fresh air exchanges to all classrooms. The filters are checked each month and replaced every 3 months (should be noted they are not HEPA filters). We appreciate Principal Hochberg and Julio providing us with this information.  It continues to be important for windows to remain open, so please continue to send your children to school with layers.

Devices in the School:

Last Spring, technology devices (chrome books, laptops, iPads) were needed throughout the TDSB for remote learning and Runnymede’s 245 devices were lent out, some of course within our community and the majority to other areas within the TDSB. This Fall, Runnymede’s approximately 875 in person students were left with very few devices to use this year (45 were delivered to the School in late September).  We started asking questions about when and how these devices would be returned or replaced.  The TDSB initially responded that they were working on a plan to replenish the devices but did not have a projected timeframe.  We heard from several teachers that delivering curriculum this year was an issue due to lack of devices in the classrooms.  Many senior classes were asked to bring their phones for use in class, but obviously not all students have one, and teachers were not very comfortable asking them to use them if everyone did not have access.  We emailed Peter Singh, TDSB, again about our concerns and he noted he would work with Principal Hochberg and that Runnymede was flagged as a priority for devices when they become available. 

We are happy to report that last week 235 chrome books were delivered to the school.   That includes 127 from the central TDSB IT department and 108 purchased through Runnymede’s school budget. It is our understanding the TDSB plans to return the remaining devices once they are no longer needed for virtual school purposes.

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