Special Message from the Minister of Education

Hi Thunderbirds:

On Sunday, April 26 2020, the Ontario Government announced that schools will remain closed under emergency order until at least May 31, 2020 (Announcement).

The extension was based on expert advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health and health officials on the COVID-19 Command Table and is part of the government’s ongoing effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Today, the Minister of Education released this SPECIAL MESSAGE to parents.

As we move forward, please remember that on our WCDSB board website you will find from our home page a link to WCDSBLearn@Home where a host of additional resources for all learners will be found.  We also encourage you to continue to visit our WCDSBPray@Home webpage as well as our FAQ page.  You can also follow the #STEAMDays hashtag where lots of fun and engaging activities are being posted.

Take good care, Thunderbirds! Stay safe, stay home, stay connected!


Important Update

Hello Thunderbird Families:

We hope all is well with you and yours. Please take some time to read the message below from our Director of Education and Chair of our school board. Thank you and take care.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     April 23rd, 2020

Dear Waterloo Catholic Community –

It has been a few weeks since we have connected, so we thought it important to offer you a few important updates as we continue to navigate this time of school closure and distance learning.  Let us begin by saying that we truly hope that you and your families are well and that you are finding ways to stay healthy and positive.  As an Easter people we pray that the hope of the season is alive in your homes.  But these are unsettling times for everyone and we believe it is absolutely OK to feel that you are not OK.  We know that each of us has a unique reality and that will position us differently in terms of our ability to walk through this time and to support our children’s learning journey right now.

For the past three weeks we have begun the journey into Educator-led learning and it could not have been done without the tremendous efforts of so many.  We are most appreciative to our staff who have worked so hard to put provisions in place so that we could reach all of our students.    We hope that every student continues to have contact with their teacher(s) and that each one knows that we care for and value each of them.  Your teachers are truly amazing and they are definitely here for you.  We will reiterate that our most pressing concern remains student well being – both mentally and physically.  As we have said before, it is not “business as usual”, but we do hope that students are connecting with their teachers as this is our “new normal” for the time being.

We wanted to provide you updates on a few different topics of interest to you and your children.  Know that this is a rapidly changing landscape and with many uncertainties, and as there are many players to both consult and work with, as well as others who provide us vital direction or information, sometimes full clarity takes a little time.

As always, on our WCDSB board website you will find from our home page a link to WCDSBLearn@Home where a host of additional resources for all learners will be found.  We also encourage you to continue to visit our WCDSBPray@Home webpage as well as our FAQ page.  You can also follow the #STEAMDays hashtag where lots of fun and engaging activities are being posted.  With that said, a few updates:

Length of the closure: 

We are awaiting direction from the government and Ministry of Education on this point.  We expect it will be forth coming soon.  While it is unlikely we will be returning to our buildings in the short term, full clarity about our return or what that might look like when we do return, may still be a while in coming.

Expectations During Distance Learning:

We realize there are different realities for all of our students and all of our educators.  For that reason, each student and teacher is held to the guidelines the Ministry has provided for minimum hours.  To review what we have shared previously – the suggested hours reflect both the time a teacher might use in providing formal instruction or guidance, as well as the time the student will spend completing the learning task or activity.  There is not a firm expectation that all students have to be “online” at the exact same time, although in some cases that might happen on occasion.

Assessment and Evaluation:

Equity has been a significant consideration in this new landscape as not all children are equally positioned to succeed to the best of their ability when learning from home.  We also know that students learning from home can place added pressure on a parent who may be juggling their own work or family related responsibilities.  For these reasons, assessment in elementary is taking the form of feedback or formative assessment, rather than grading.  Students can benefit and continue progressing through this feedback.  For our students in secondary, they will receive both formative and summative assessments – that is feedback and grades, but teachers will be working to support a student’s best outcome and will not be penalized if the current circumstances detract from their ability to succeed.  Marks will not drop below that attained on March 13th, when schools were declared closed.  There is however every opportunity for a mark to improve, and for learning and achievement to be enhanced.

Report Cards:

There will be a report card in June for all students and they will contain grades.  As noted above, those grades will be largely informed by the marks students had attained prior to March 13th, but there is every opportunity for those grades to improve based on any work submitted during this time of distance learning, if there is evidence of growth and/or improved performance.  In the case of graduating students, midterm marks were sent to the Universities and Colleges to assist with post-secondary admission.


We know that graduation is a significant event in the life of a student and his/her family. For this reason, this has been a difficult decision.  Our secondary schools have no option but to postpone graduation ceremonies as a result of venues not being available to us.  As you can appreciate secondary graduations are often large events and so they are not easily accommodated in alternate settings.  We have made the decision that all of our secondary schools will hold their graduations in the fall.  This will in no way impact a student’s ability to actually graduate from high school should they have met the requirements.  We are still in the process of finalizing our decision in relation to grade 8 graduations and will communicate that information as soon as a final decision has been achieved.

Thought Exchange – Your Voice

As most of you will be aware, we recently engaged our stakeholders in an exercise of asking them what questions or concerns they had after one-two weeks of distance learning.  Our survey closed on Tuesday April 21st in the evening and we are now starting to unpack that feedback.  We are thrilled that you took us up on this invitation.  We had just under 2000 participants and approximately 37,000 ratings from all our stakeholders.  We know that at a very high level elementary parents are expressing thoughts about the home learning environment and the types of tasks students are assigned, about feedback and assessment, and about equity.  Secondary parents are sharing thoughts about the nature of student and educator contact, and also about feedback and assessment, as well as issues related to equity.  There are roughly 14 sub-themes in the Thought Exchange feedback that we have identified and there is much more analysis we can do, and it will help to inform our thinking and actions moving forward.  A high level report on parent feedback is available at these two links, but much more will be shared in the weeks to come, that will map to themes and the take-aways from the feedback.

Parent/Guardian for an Elementary Student

Parent/Guardian for a Secondary Student

Finally – we encourage you to closely follow any and all directives from our governments and Waterloo Region Public Health.  As a local and global community – we have never been more connected by an event or issue and now is the time to do everything we can to ensure we can soon return to life as we knew it not so long ago.  As an Easter people we believe in the power of the resurrection and the promise of new life.  Certainly this signs of the season affirm that promise.  Please reach out to us if you need help or guidance, and remain confident that we are here to support you, as we walk together as a hope-filled community.  #WCDSBTogether.


Loretta Notten                                                  Bill Conway
Director of Education                                      Chair of the Board





Earth Spirit Day – Friday, April 24th

Good afternoon Thunderbirds!

This week is EARTH WEEK and our Student Activity Council has planned an Earth Spirit Day for this coming Friday, April 24th.   

All staff and students are invited to participate by wearing green/blue, dressing as a favourite animal, etc. Be creative – any fun ideas related to celebrating our wonderful world are great! 

You are invited to tweet your photos and tag us @StDanielTBirds

During this Earth Week, consider ways to be stewards of the earth at home. Perhaps make more of an effort to recycle, compost, use a reusable water bottle instead of a throw away bottle, and on and on…

There are so many little actions that we can take to make our planet fantastic!  It may not seem like these little actions make much of a difference, but when you put them all together, it really does!

Happy Earth Week everyone!  

Looking forward to seeing photos of Thunderbirds participating in our Earth Spirit Day on Friday!

Thunderbird Update – Monday April 20th

Good Afternoon Thunderbirds!

Please take a look at the following information that is meant to help you with your WCDSB@Home learning. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your child’s teacher or school administration.

  1. Every student is expected to be engaging with their teachers and completing work that is assigned. Please make sure that you are encouraging your children, and if you need any help, please let us know via email.
  2. We are doing our best to ensure that Chromebooks are available to each family that requires one. There have been numerous opportunities for pick-ups, and at this time there are no more scheduled pick up dates.
  3. Welcome to Kindergarten Night for JK and new SK students coming to school in September will be postponed until we can confidently select a new date.
  4. The opportunity to receive Sacraments through the Church is on hold for now. Any questions about receiving sacraments can be directed to the Church. 
  5. All school trips currently booked for this year are cancelled and money has been refunded via SchoolCash Online.
  6. Pizza Money has also been refunded to you via School Cash Online for orders that were prepaid.

Also, please take a look at these links in order to help you stay connected!

  1. Umbrella Project WebinarParenting strategies to support your families well-being through uncertainty and rainy days
  2. COVID WCDSB Thought ExchangeThought Exchange is an opportunity for all families to provide feedback to the board to discuss how you think we are doing with this endeavour.  We are trying, but we need your help to know if it is working! Please take some time and click on the link to provide feedback so we can serve you better! Deadline is April 21st. 
  3. WCDSB Learn@ Home Tips for Parents page – This site contains support for Learning at Home including help guides for D2L and Google Classroom. It also has links to internet and device programs for Low Income Families. Be sure to check this out!

Finally, we want to ask: “How are you?”  This can be a very difficult time for students and parents.  Please make sure that you are touching base with each other, with your child’s teachers or with the office via email if you have any questions, concerns or feel you need some assistance. We are here for you and we are happy to help. Please reach out!

Stay Healthy, Stay Home and Stay Connected, Thunderbirds!


Thunderbird Update

Hi Thunderbird Families:

Thanks so much for all of the work you have been doing to support our Thunderbirds as they embarked upon “Teacher-Led Learning” from home last week. We recognize the challenges that come with distance learning and appreciate all of your efforts in helping your children engage in learning at home. 

This past week, your child(ren)’s teacher delivered content using an online learning platform, such as Google Classroom or D2L. Teachers will continue providing curriculum-focused learning activities for your children through these online platforms. It is the expectation that all our Thunderbird students participate in “Teacher-Led Learning” from home. 

As we journey through the upcoming weeks students/families can expect to receive feedback from teachers as to how our Thunderbirds can improve upon the work they have been submitting. The students are to use this feedback to improve upon their assignment/task and to apply it to upcoming assignments/tasks. Please remember Thunderbirds, that this is school for right now. Continue to put your best effort into each learning task. This is how you learn and grow. Always know, you can contact your teacher if you need help, have questions about the work or if you need clarification. We are here for you, Thunderbirds!

As outlined below, the Ministry has communicated expectations in regards to distance learning. If students are not participating in Teacher Led Learning, follow up from classroom teachers/administration will be required and next steps implemented. 

As a reminder, the Ministry has set the following guideline expectations for learning. The “hours” refer to the approximate amount of time students would spend on work assigned them by their teachers(s). Teacher engagement with students would vary depending on circumstances and could include a range of ways that teachers would connect with our students. We know that some Thunderbirds get done their work very fast and others take more time, and that is okay as long as you remember to do your best. 

Kindergarten-Grade 3:

  • 5 hours of work per student per week 
  • Focus: Literacy, Math and Religion

Grades 4-6:

  • 5 hours of work per student per week
  • Focus: Literacy, Math, Science, Social Studies and Religion

Grades 7-8:

  • 10 hours of work per student per week
  • Focus: Math, Literacy, Science, Social Studies and Religion

Umbrella Project

Each month, St. Daniel staff add their own mission statements to our Umbrella Project bulletin board. Students greatly enjoy reading these reflections and it is one of the ways we integrate the Umbrella Project skills into our school community. This month, we wanted to carry on this tradition, so we have created a video capturing staff reflections on the theme for April – self-efficacy. Please click on the link to view this video: https://youtu.be/vSWzek_LrIQ

So you might wonder, what is self-efficacy and how will it help your child? The easiest way to think about self-efficacy is as our “I can do this” or “I cannot do this” skill. It’s the belief in ourselves and our ability to succeed or manage situations. As you can imagine, self-efficacy has dramatic effects on our children’s behaviour, effort, learning and achievement. When your child doesn’t feel that they can do something, they are unlikely to give the task a lot of their time and energy and thus are unlikely to succeed at that task. Self-efficacy is a big part of motivation. This skill gets stronger the more we overcome difficulties and challenges related to our goals. As your child’s self-efficacy increases, they will feel a greater sense of positive control over their lives, which is a critical part of their wellbeing!

SELF-EFFICACY TIP #1 Provide Regular Positive Encouragement:

One of the ways we can improve motivation and self-efficacy in our children is social persuasion. Social persuasion in the form of positive encouragement is the concept that your child can be persuaded to believe in themselves by others around them and this can be a powerful tool in parenting for wellbeing. “Believe you can and you’re halfway there” may sound cliche, but research shows it is true. People who believe in themselves are much more likely to achieve their goals. When it comes to self-efficacy, we can actually help our child believe in their ability to handle new tasks or take on challenges, just by giving them regular positive encouragement. Your confidence in them will help your child overcome their self-doubt and grow this very important skill. Small tasks and goals are a great place to start because they provide quick feedback to your child on their abilities and help them gather evidence that they can accomplish many different things. 

SELF-EFFICACY TIP #2 Create an Environment for your Child that is Rich in Mastery Opportunities: 

Mastery experiences provide our children with one of the most powerful inputs for building their self-efficacy. Mastery experiences can range from tying shoes to solving difficult puzzles and everything in between. They are the evidence we provide ourselves that we are capable. This “I can do it” attitude is critical for future success. Parents who arrange more opportunities for their child to master different tasks raise children who are more efficacious. The more we try and succeed, the more we believe in our ability to succeed. Set your child up for success by creating an environment where they are free to explore, to try new things, build on the old and to slowly master the world around them. Take note of the natural parenting tendency to “over” help our children, especially when we are rushing through our busy days. These can take away from their opportunities to build self-efficacy and instead leave them feeling dependent on others.

Here’s a recent example of this from my life: Over the weekend my son and I were working on building a robot he received as a gift. The Saturday morning hours ticked away as we got to the final step – the track assembly. This involved a fiddly and repeated step that we were both working away at. My son made a few attempts and then turned to me and asked me to do it for him, clearly frustrated with the process and noticing that I had mastered it. 

It would have been so easy for me to quickly finish the job so we could all move on with our day but instead here is how we approached it: I started by verbalizing my process for him, showing him specifically how I held my hands and where to apply pressure (see last weeks tip for building self-efficacy). We then did the steps together, repeating out loud the main action “Click and flip, click and flip”. By the end, it was a race to see who could complete their section first and we had added one more data point to his “I can do it” bank. Self-efficacy is built through slowly accumulating the evidence that we are capable of many, many things!

Help them understand that each little challenge is practice for the next time they find themselves in a similar situation and the more they practice, the bigger the challenge they will be able to face. Engaging them in picking their own challenges is a great way to make sure they are embracing the process. Over time, you will see your child’s belief in their own capabilities grow. 

See this blog for a more detailed look at coaching children through the challenges of building self-efficacy: https://umbrellaproject.co/category/self-efficacy/

Health and happiness, 

Dr. Jen Forristal Founder of the Umbrella Project


Easter Message

Dear Thunderbird Families:

Over the course of the past few weeks, we faced many unprecedented challenges, as a result our reality is unlike any other that we have ever known. On this Holy Thursday, we have a unique opportunity to reflect on how perhaps God is opening the door to us seeing how our current struggles are mirrored in those experienced by Jesus as He journeyed to the cross. These have not been easy times for anyone and in times as such we are called to turn to and reflect on our faith. During this time of Easter, unplug, take care of yourself and your loved ones and celebrate the hope that, we know, comes in the Resurrection. From our homes to yours, may you and your family be blessed as you celebrate the true meaning of Easter. 

If you are in need of some spiritual guidance please see below a recent addition to the WCDSB Learn@Home website – WCDSBPray@Home. It offers many resources and spiritual care opportunities that we felt might be especially helpful moving into this Easter weekend.


Also, St. Anthony Daniel Parish will be livestreaming over the weekend. For more details, please visit their website: https://stanthonydaniel.ca/

Blessings for this coming Holy Week

Hi Thunderbird Families:

The St. Daniel staff have put together a special video message for you. We are thinking of you and excited to begin educator-led learning this week through our distance learning platforms (D2L and Google Classroom). 

Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8O1M_V685tQ&feature=youtu.be

As we enter into Holy Week, we wanted to share this special prayer with you and offer some resources that can be used to celebrate Holy Week at Home. 

Loving God, 

As we come to the beginning of Holy Week, we remember your triumphant entry into Jerusalem. We sing your praises, shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” You alone are the true King, the leader greater than all others. Even so, in Your great mercy You chose to become like us, taking on human form and living among us. As we celebrate and shout “Hosanna” today, may we remember what will soon follow. Keep us faithful in word and deed, and help us love You to the best of our ability. 

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. 


Holy Week at Home Resources:

Also, we would like to share with you the following important message from St. Anthony Daniel Parish: 


Greetings to our School Communities!

Please CLICK HERE to access a video with our newest parish update specifically for our schools and First Communion Families.

As always, you can reach Fr. Tim or Sarah by email: 



or call the parish office & leave Fr. Tim a message: 519-893-6960.

Wishing you a blessed Holy Week and a Happy Easter,

Fr. Tim, Sarah and the Parish Team

Blessing to you and yours this Holy Week. 

Thunderbird Update

Hello Thunderbird Families:

We hope you and your loved ones are healthy and well. Over the past couple of weeks our teachers have been reaching out to you, checking in to see how you and our Thunderbirds are doing. As a community, we have been working to get technology to our families that do not have access. Please know that “access to a Chromebook” does not mean that each child needs their own Chromebook. Simply that they have access to one. It is not the expectation that they are on it for the duration of the learning. Much can be done without a computer.

Since the regular school year has been postponed until May 4th, staff have been meeting virtually to organize various materials for your children to explore. We truly understand the complexities that learning from home can cause for families. With this in mind, on Monday April 6th, our classroom teachers will be rolling out materials and resources to you slowly. These items will be shared with you through the platforms that they would normally communicate news and learning to families; in our case either Google Classroom or D2L. When learning starts on Monday, your child will need to use a device to access learning tasks and activities and to communicate with the teacher.

As you may have already heard, we are looking at a minimum of 1 hour of learning each day (5 hours per week) for all students from JK – Grade 6. This jumps to 2 hours per day (10 hours per week) for students in Grades 7 and 8. These times are a minimum and things could take some students longer. Teachers may have optional activities or extensions for students that are looking for additional learning items. This should not be overwhelming for anyone – students or parents. We are here to help you.

We understand that some students who have siblings are sharing a device in many cases. We also respect that many of our families are working from home or are going to work and are on the front lines keeping us safe. Please know that work can be completed at different times or even different days. You always have the flexibility to decide when your child completes the minimum hours of lessons and work each week as outlined above. 

Teachers will be available to check messages for questions or concerns each day. If something comes up, work is not able to be completed, or you are struggling with how to support learning from home objectives, simply send a message to let your child’s teacher know. Our dedicated staff may not be at the building, but we are still here for you.

We understand that some families have Thunderbirds with learning exceptionalities that make learning from home additionally complex to navigate. Please know that our staff is here to support you with goals as outlined in your child’s IEP. To help facilitate this journey our WCDSB special education team has developed a parent portal with resources for you to explore at your own pace: https://wcdsblearnathome.wcdsb.ca/additional-learning-resources/special-education/

We know these are difficult times for many families and we want to sincerely thank you for your work, patience and dedication. We got this, Thunderbirds!

Supplementary Resource Links: 

WCDSBLearn@Home site: https://wcdsblearnathome.wcdsb.ca/

Ministry Learn at home site: https://www.ontario.ca/page/learn-at-home

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