The Keewatin-Patricia District School Board (KPDSB) encourages its staff to use restorative practices. Using restorative practices includes informal and formal processes that proactively build positive relationships in the community to prevent conflicts and wrongdoings. In the spring, 574 KP staff – including admin assistants, educational assistants, early childhood educators, teachers, and administrators – participated in a restorative practice professional development session. It was a refresher for some and new learning for others. The staff reviewed how restorative practices empowered people to take ownership, learn from their choices, understand their impact, resolve disagreements, and develop problem-solving skills. KP lunch-hour supervisors and bus drivers were provided with the opportunity to participate in a half-day training on restorative practices with a focus on peacefully resolving conflicts when they occur. Over 65 lunch-hour supervisors and bus drivers took advantage of this opportunity. Also, all KP staff were provided with two additional workshops; one session was focused on the use of restorative questions and approaches, and the second session was focused on using a trauma-informed approach in restorative circles. To start the 2021–22 school year, over 550 KP staff members reviewed strategies and practices that create a welcoming, inclusive, and caring school and classroom environment. The focus was on practices that help create respectful classrooms, develop rapport, establish routines and expectations for positive student behaviour, and manage conflicts. The staff carefully reviewed the benefits of and the different types of proactive circles and reviewed the restorative practice structure and questions used when things went wrong. There are several KPDSB staff members trained as restorative practice facilitators. This year, another handful of leaders across the board took formal restorative practice training through the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP).
Mental Health in Schools
The 2020–2021 school year included a focus on a mentally healthy return to school for all students, including their re-engagement back into the classroom. Educators continued to create a safe, welcoming, and inclusive learning space for all. Creating a sense of belonging and a mentally healthy return to school following a period of remote learning, focusing on mobilizing support for those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, continues throughout the year.
Student counsellors welcomed a return to school and a face-to-face provision of service. Our continued partnership with FIREFLY also allowed for counselling services to be provided virtually for those students continuing in remote learning and/or those requesting mental health support virtually.
The Board has continued to use the TIERed system for supporting student mental health and well-being. The multi-tiered system helps to ensure universal support: good for ALL services are provided at TIER One; prevention, necessary for some at TIER Two; and intervention, essential for a few at TIER Three.
For the second consecutive summer, school boards across the province received funding to provide mental health support throughout July and August. These funds were used by the Board to retain three of our student counsellors to provide mental health support to students, participate in hiring and orientation of new staff, and for resource development.
The KPDSB and NAN mental health champion model remains a priority to support educator capacity and share best practices related to mental health and well-being.
Professional development specific to resources created by School Mental Health Ontario for supporting student mental health and well-being were targeted to ensure implementation of resources directly in the classroom. Specific focus included the implementation of the SMHO Virtual Field Trips. The following video provides a short overview of how mental health has been embedded within the curriculum at KPDSB:
Last year, the central special education team continued to adapt Individualized Education Program (IEP) and IPRC processes and procedures virtually to meet the needs of special education students and their families. Our speech-language pathologists assessed students virtually and provided support to speech-language assistants and school teams. Our applied behaviour analysis leaders continued supporting students and staff both virtually and in person. Our teacher diagnosticians were also able to assess students in person and support students, families, and schools. Psychological services continued to be provided virtually to support students and families. The central special education team offered many professional development sessions to educators throughout the school year to support staff and build capacity. Virtual meetings have increased the special education team’s ability to provide timely support for schools and students. The beginning of the 2021 school year allowed our special education team to work directly with students in schools. The team was very excited to support students and schools directly. A balance of virtual and direct support was used to optimize special education services.
In preparation for the new school year, KPDSB offered a transition-to-school program. Over fifty staff, including education assistants, early childhood educators, teachers, and school administrators, supported the transition of students with special education needs and mental health needs back to school. Over one hundred students with special education needs participated in the summer transition program. In addition, the summer transition program supported over a hundred students with their mental health and wellness. This program offered transition meetings and programs to familiarize students with schools, classrooms, staff, routines, and academics. Social stories were also offered to help bridge the gap and facilitate smooth transitions to the new school year. Students and families were grateful for the transition opportunities, and many expressed how helpful the program was and how it eased stress and anxiety for students and families.
KPDSB partnered with George Jeffries Children’s Centre to offer social skills programming for students with autism-spectrum disorders. Various programs were offered to students with the support of staff to develop their social skills. Workshops for parents and caregivers were also offered. We continued this partnership through the summer for students with autism spectrum disorders and their families, looking at foundational skills and school readiness workshops to ensure they receive exceptional programs and services to succeed.
In 2021, a new IEP program was implemented, and the special education team navigated how it can support students and tracking of information in special education (such as SEA equipment, transition planning, etc.). Central special education staff provided training sessions for special education resource teachers on navigating the new program and developing IEPs, as well as the IPRC process. The special education team provided ongoing support to school staff as they learned how to use the new system to support schools and students.
We are in the process of taking a careful look at our special education procedures to ensure that they support inclusion and accessibility of pathways and evaluate whether our processes promote equity of outcomes for students.
Return to Play
Students and KPDSB coaches returned to sport in the Fall of 2021 with guidance from public health. Students are now participating in intramurals, clubs and competitive sports in their school and in regional sport leagues. Athletic Directors, community partners, athletic organizations worked together to develop protocols and guidelines to minimize the risks of COVID-19 in schools or communities.
Along with the return to play, students are now enjoying opportunities such as field trips, music classes and clubs, committees and councils. Extra curricular activities contribute to improving student engagement, health, well-being and an overall positive experience in school.
KPDSB Capital Work
Keewatin PS – Capital Renovation
In the fall of 2020, we were pleased to announce a child care renovation at Keewatin Public School in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Government of Ontario.
The project is nearing completion with the scope of work including:
- An in-school child care space with a licensing capacity of 24 pre-school or a family aged grouping program operated by FIREFLY, as well as a child and family support program hub. The renovated space will include a new cubby entrance, auxiliary storage rooms and office areas as well as student and staff washroom facilities.
- A newly renovated Kindergarten classroom to include a new entrance with cubby area and washrooms.
All areas of construction will receive interior flooring, exterior window replacements, LED tunable lighting for interior spaces and LED exterior lighting, new millwork storage and new security and intercom systems.
There are also HVAC and accessibility renovations taking place at Keewatin Public School that followed the child care renovation. An overview of that work is below.
- Full accessibility upgrades are being made throughout the facility, including a new three-stop elevator with additional, upgraded building entrance doors and ramps with new hardware, new barrier-free washrooms throughout the entire facility, new interior building signage, new fire alarm system compliant with AODA guidelines, and new sound field systems in all learning spaces as well as an integrated P/A system.
The following are the interior renovations throughout:
- HVAC replacement of all mechanical and plumbing equipment and infrastructure
- Steam boiler conversion to the high-efficiency hydronic system
- BAS upgrade
- Flooring replacement throughout classrooms and washroom and basement areas
- Painting throughout all classrooms and corridors, gymnasium and stairs
- Ceiling replacement throughout
- Classroom millwork upgrades
- New kitchen servery for improved functionality and community use opportunities
- Facility-wide lighting replacement from fluorescent to LEDs, including exit and emergency lighting and new parking lot lighting
- ITS replacement – data cabling, power cabling, Wifi, and PA with new lockdown capabilities
- New security intrusion alarm system and CCTV integrated system
- Parking lot replacement and civil grading to correct stormwater drainage
- New Kiss & Ride driving loop and sidewalks to improve parent and pedestrian access to school
- New landscaping throughout
- Full asbestos abatement of all affected areas throughout the renovation
- The comparable FCI to drop from 60.25% to 22.23%
FCI = Facility Condition Index (i.e., how much of the building’s materials are either in failure or past their theoretical life expectancies)
- Qualifying SCI funding totalling $6.94 million to fund project internally instead of seeking Capital Priority Funding from the Ministry of Education
KPDSB Summer 2021 Major Capital Projects
Summer is an extremely busy time for KPDSB construction activity, and the summer of 2021 was no exception. Below you will find a high-level overview of the work completed on our major capital projects during the summer of 2021.
Dryden High School – Mechanical & Electrical Retrofit
- HVAC upgrades were completed by the end of October.
- The large plumbing component of the project will continue through the winter with an approximate completion date of March 2022.
- The main exterior concrete stairs at the front entrance to the school were replaced this summer as well.
SoundField Systems / Digital Learning
The FrontRow EZ Room system is being installed in all classrooms throughout KPDSB. The project includes the installation of new sound systems and video equipment. These audio systems have numerous connection options including teacher microphones, Bluetooth and laptop connectivity, and allow for the use of assistive hearing devices. The video technology, which includes ceiling-mounted pan, tilt, and zoom cameras, will allow students and teachers to connect and collaborate with experts around the world to enrich their learning experiences.
- Hardware installation has been completed at all locations, except for the secondary school tech shops, which are getting different/specialized equipment.
- The software rollout and training will continue in the 2021-2022 school year.
Safe Schools – Re-keying / Access Controls
- Aiphones (security systems for entry and access controls at school entrances) were completed at secondary and elementary schools and childcare spaces. All schools in the KPDSB were able to control the security of their main entrance doors much more efficicietly for start-up in September 2021.
- Evergreen PS in Kenora – The play yard upgrades were completed by October 2021.
- Valleyview PS in Kenora – A new bike trail was completed this summer for students, staff and community to enjoy.
- Red Lake-Madsen PS – The mechanical and electrical retrofit was also completed during the summer of 2021.
Savant Lake Public School Replacement School
We were pleased to announce funding for a replacement school in Savant Lake In partnership with the Ministry of Education and Government of Ontario during the 2020-2021 school year. Work continues on this project and we look forward to consultations with staff, families and community members during the process.
The replacement school will be built on the existing school property and will provide a mix of 21st century classroom models and board designed innovative spaces for multipurpose use. The new building is expected to have the highest energy efficient design of all facilities in the KPDSB. Students and families can also look forward to a school playground redesign to provide increased outdoor learning opportunities.
It is anticipated the replacement school will open for the 2023-2024 school year (modular and prefabricated construction techniques are being explored for increased quality control and timelines).