le Vendredi 3 février 2023
le Mercredi 18 janvier 2023 13:48 Tribune-Express (Hawkesbury)

UCDSB holds first meeting of the year

The ongoing bus driver shortage was just one topic covered in the first meeting of 2023 for the Upper Canada District School Board.  — file photo
The ongoing bus driver shortage was just one topic covered in the first meeting of 2023 for the Upper Canada District School Board.
file photo
Trustees for the UCDSB discussed several problems and initiatives during their first meeting of 2023.

During the first regular meeting of the new year, trustees with the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) met January 11 to discuss the ongoing bus driver shortage for the Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario (STEO), an update to the UCDSB Director’s Work Plan, and a district-wide timetable update.

The transportation update was delivered by Janet Murray, general manager and chief administrative officer at STEO, with help from Operations Manager Marc Gossett. The shortage continues to impact school districts across Ontario and is a problem across all of Canada and the United States. Gossett reported that within the UCDSB alone, 320 bus runs have been cancelled in the 11 days since the beginning of the year. Bus companies are working with STEO to explore alternatives to cancellations, such as doubling a single route or combining multiple routes, but there still aren’t enough drivers to cover all the routes even with these measures.

 There are 19 routes in the UCDSB without a driver. STEO reports that there are 26 drivers in training, and Murray said that STEO has plans for a targeted recruitment campaign to further solve the shortage.

District timetable

Superintendent of Schools Susan Rutters presented trustees with the district-wide timetable for the 2022-2023 school year. All UCDSB schools run from 8 a.m. to 2:10 p.m. and share a common schedule, ensuring that virtual students can attend synchronous online sessions offered by teachers. There are 77 eLearning courses offered within the UCDSB, which is a recent increase to account for the new eLearning graduation requirement. The schedule includes a repeat period to consolidate learning and ensure student success.

Rutters reported that the UCDSB is moving forward with a pilot project to free up space in each school to allow for in-person learning and hands-on opportunities for several eLearning courses offered across multiple schools. There are 59 students enrolled in the secondary remote learning program.

Work plan

Superintendent of Special Education and Student Wellness Jennifer Perry updated trustees on the Director’s Work Plan. The UCDSB is starting a new Skills 4 Life (S4L) pilot, linked to the Ontario Civics and Careers curriculum, that will address key action items in the plan. The S4L program is a series of eight lessons that support instruction on mental health and social-emotional skill development in Grade 10 Career Studies.

The lessons will cover mental health and mental illness, strategies for mental wellness, identifying thoughts and managing emotions, and managing controllable and uncontrollable stressors. The UCDSB hopes that the lessons will help students build on their strengths and strategies to enhance skills they can use throughout their lives. The resources are evidence-based and created in partnership with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation.

Perry said that staff will be connecting with administration and teaching staff to gauge participation, with the pilot taking place from February to June.