President’s 2020 Easter Message
During this holiest week of what is without doubt a year of unprecedented circumstances, we are preparing for Easter with a profound understanding of what that means from the perspective of our Catholic faith. As fears grow around the impact of the current pandemic on daily routines, livelihoods, and the health of our loved ones, it is so important to stay rooted in our knowledge that we are an Easter people–we know that the power of faith transforms even death.
As I thought about how to tie in this message with our roles as Catholic trustees, I looked to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Easter address by His Excellency, Archbishop Gagnon. In that address Archbishop Gagnon recalls the fear and joy felt by Mary and Mary Magdalene when they encountered Jesus at the empty tomb and heard the words our Saviour left with them.
“Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:10).
There is much fear in our province today, but there is also reason for joy because we know that Christ is with us always. That message that Jesus left us to go forth and proclaim the Gospel is our core calling as Catholic Trustees; we share that message in our actions and words. While we have the added challenge this year of not being able to join our families in gatherings and at Parishes to celebrate Easter, we can through prayer, through social media and through service to others in any way that we can, continue to Proclaim the Gospel that Christ is Risen!
We are Catholic school trustees today because of the discipleship of the Catholic trustees who preceded us and the discipleship demonstrated by each of you who have answered the call to serve. We continue to be guardians and stewards of a thriving Catholic school system that proclaims the Gospel in physical and virtual learning environments. Our province and our country benefits from the good work and the hope shared by our Catholic school students and staff, and for that I am so thankful.
I wish each of you and all your loved ones a happy and blessed Easter.
OCSTA Ratifies Agreement with OECTA
OCSTA announced on April 8th the ratification of central terms for a new three-year collective agreement with the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA).
“The unprecedented situation in our province resulting from the current pandemic, calls for collaborative, working relationships in all of Ontario’s sectors, especially education. The ratification of the central agreement between OCSTA, OECTA and the Crown helps to bring stability and allow for a positive, sustained effort in Ontario’s Catholic schools to address the varying and unique needs of education today,” said Patrick Daly, Chair of the OCSTA Labour Committee.
A memo detailing the announcement was sent to all CDSB Chairs and Directors of Education.
Continuity of Learning – CDSB Innovation
On March 31st, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ontario government announced that schools and child care centres would remain closed for an extended period of time to protect the health and safety of students and staff. Public schools will remain closed to teachers until Friday, May 1, 2020, and to students until Monday, May 4, 2020.
To ensure continuity of learning, the government launched the second phase of its Learn at Home intiative. Developed in conjunction with education partners, the government is establishing clarity for parents, enhancing education supports, and creating opportunities for teachers and educators to connect with students.
Recognizing the distinctive nature of Catholic education and both the challenges and opportunities of online learning, CDSBs have and continue to develop resources to support the virtual learning framework in ways that are aligned to the Catholic education focus on the development of the whole child (academic, spiritual, physical and social aspects).
To help promote and share the best practices of our Catholic School boards, OCSTA has established on the provincial website a center for CDSB Innovation with respect to current virtual learning initiatives.
To view the current CDSB Innovation page please visit:
OCSTA 2020 Virtual AGM – New Date
In a recent memo to members, Executive Director Nick Milanetti announced the following details regarding the reschedulig of OCSTA’s 2020 AGM:
On April 3, 2020, the OCSTA Board of Directors met to discuss and provide direction related to changes arising from the current unprecedented impacts on our workplace, due to emergency measures which prevent a physical gathering at this time.
- The Board officially cancelled this year’s conference and postponed the Annual General
Meeting until June.
- On Saturday, June 27, 2020, from 9:00am – 12:00pm (EST) OCSTA will convene virtually to
address items which are required elements of an Annual General Meeting.
- A meeting invitation for the “virtual” Annual General Meeting will be distributed to all Catholic
school Trustees and Directors of Education. Instructions and parameters for participating in the
virtual AGM will be provided by OCSTA closer to the meeting date.
- Election of Table Officers (President and Vice President) and CCSTA Representative: During
these extraordinary and unprecedented times, members will be able to vote electronically, in real
time. Rules, regulations and required parameters will be provided to all members in advance of
- The current Table Officers will stay in place until the election.
OCSTA is extending the deadline date for receipt of Resolutions, Nominations and Proxy Forms as follows:
o Deadline for Receipt of Resolutions – April 28, 2020 – 12:00pm (EST)
o Deadline for Receipt of Nominations – June 5, 2020 – 9:00am (EST)
o Deadline for Receipt of Proxy Forms – June 25, 2020 – 9:00am (EST)
- If at the time of the meeting the ban has been lifted on the gathering of more than five people, trustees may be able to gather at their local Board offices to participate in the “virtual” AGM, where they may request the support of their local Board’s IT personnel, if needed. Each individual will require their own electronic device, i.e., laptop or personal computer in order to capture their individual votes. Members may also participate by phone, however, they would not have the capability to vote in real time but would have the ability to vote via proxy.
- OCSTA has been able to limit the liability to the Association under these extraordinary circumstances. The block of rooms at the Fairmont Château Laurier, and The Lord Elgin in Ottawa have been released, therefore no charges will apply to reservations made under the blocks. ▪ A reminder that all travel arrangements and rooms booked outside the OCSTA “hotel blocks” are the responsibility of the delegate.
- All AGM & Conference and Business Seminar registrations will be automatically cancelled and no action is required on your part. Paid registration fees for the 2020 AGM & Conference and Business Seminar will be refunded to all member boards. ▪ 2020 OCSTA Award Recipients will be honoured at a future in-person event. ▪ The 2021 Conference date will be announced once confirmed.
- At this time, Fall Regional Meeting dates will remain as scheduled.
We extend our gratitude to the Ottawa Catholic School Board for their leadership and commitment to date on planning this year’s AGM & Conference. These are unique and challenging times for all. Our staff at OCSTA are working remotely and, as always, can be accessed through email to address the needs of our members.
We ask for your continued prayers for the victims of the Coronavirus, for first responders, doctors, nurses and priests tending to the sick. May God bless you and your families with good health and protection during these difficult and uncertain times.
OCSTA Website Hosts Religious Education Curriculum
OCSTA Director of Education, Anne O’Brien recently issued the following memo regarding CCCB Religious Education Curriculum for Catholic schools:
At this time of Distance Learning in our province, the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA) is pleased to have formed a partnership with the National Office of the Religious Education (NORE) and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) to bring our Religion textbooks to you electronically. These resources were developed for use in Catholic schools in Canada and are approved by the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario.
OCSTA has purchased the licence for the electronic versions of the texts listed below. These texts are for the use of schools and parents and are accessible directly from the Association’s website at the following location:
At this time, we are providing a PDF version of:
1. Believe in Me, Year 7 Student Textbook
2. School by Me, Year 8 Student Textbook
3. Be with Me, Year 9 Student Textbook
4. Christ and Culture, Year 10 Student Textbook
5. In Search of the Good: Year, 12 Student Textbook
OCSTA is working closely with the National Office for Religious Education to provide the Teachers’ Manual for each of these documents. We will post these online as soon as they are available.
In support of this initiative, we kindly ask that you forward this information to the appropriate staff person(s) at your Board. We will continue to provide updates in OCSTA memos to members and will also highlight changes/updates on the Association’s social media platforms.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Anne O’Brien, OCSTA Director of Catholic Education at email@example.com.
Good News from Ontario’s CDSBs
Windsor Essex CDSB – A Unique Expression of Thanks:
Staff CDSBs across Ontario have been going above and beyond to address the needs of student and families during this period of school closures and new routines to counter the spread of COVID-19. The senior administration team at the Windsor Essex CDSB decided to create a video thanking staff for their commitment and hard work. Click on the following link to view:
Wellington CDSB – Responding to the Call for Medical Masks
From Guelph Today: Demand for protective medical masks has never been higher and when a call went out March 21 from, Jeremy Hedges CEO of technology company InkSmith in Kitchener, for help from anyone with a 3D printer, a team of people from the Wellington Catholic District School Board stepped up.
York CDSB – Staff Share Messages of Support with Students During Closure
Staff at St. Brendan Catholic Elementary School at the York CDSB shared messages of support with students following the announcement of extended school closures. The video that has been heavily shared on social media and generated wonderfully positive and supportive feedback.
Kenora CDSB – Best Practice – Learn at Home
Director of Education, Dr. Derek Haime hosted a Microsoft Team’s Live Event with Kenora Catholic families, on April 3, to talk about phase two of the Ministry of Education’s Learn at Home program and the continuity of learning strategy in place. The session included question and answer sessions with parents that can be heard in the recorded video.