Learning at a Distance

Learning at a distance is a new experience for all of us. We recognize these are challenging times and that individuals and families are affected in different ways. Some of our families and educators shared how they are managing learning at a distance. We understand and encourage our families to support their children with learning from home as best as possible given their individual circumstances. We also recognize and support our educators’ use of professional judgement in finding ways to best support their students based on individual learning needs, preferences, and experiences. We are all learning how to navigate this new reality together. Our goal is to support the Thames Valley community in service to our students, as best as possible as we continue our journey of learning at a distance. We are here to support teaching and learning for all Thames Valley students.

1. What is Learning at a Distance?

Learning at a distance means that children and youth can continue learning with support from their teachers.

Our focus is on helping students:

  • To stay connected with their school community and peers,
  • To continue engaging in learning to prepare for the next year or to graduate, and
  • To develop social and emotional awareness and skills.

Learning at a distance is not the same as online learning or homeschooling. The supports being provided by Thames Valley educators are not meant to replicate a school day. These are temporary measures that are being set up rapidly in response to school closures. Families can support their children with learning activities provided by educators as much as needed and possible, given individual circumstances, but are not expected to take on the role of the classroom teacher.

Educators may connect in real-time with their students, one-to-one, in small groups and sometimes as a class. There are multiple definitions of synchronous learning. It includes phone calls, emails, active time on platforms—often live and at synchronous times. Thames Valley is supportive of our staff continuing to focus on what works best for their students and their families. Our educators and administrators know when and what tools to use to connect with families, how to maintain relationships and engage students in support of learning at a distance.

 2. What Can I Expect?

  Caring and Connection

  • Students’ best interests are our number one priority.
  • No student will be disadvantaged academically as a result of school closures.
  • Teachers will continue to connect with individual students and families to answer questions and provide feedback.
  • Support staff will continue to be available to help students and families.

Access to Learning Materials

  • Students will be provided with a device if they don’t have one at home. Click here for more information.
  • Paper learning materials have been made available to those students who require them. Please contact your child's teacher or principal should you have any questions about printed learning resources.
  • Students and families will continue to receive support with technology. Have questions? Send an email to servicesupport@tvdsb.ca or visit the technology help page.


  • Students have choice in how they organize their day. There are no set times for students to be online.
  • Teachers and students can communicate and connect safely using a variety of methods.
  • Students have choice to learn through a variety of activities.

Equitable and Inclusive Support

  • Students have access to learning resources where they see themselves represented and reflected.
  • Staff will continue to listen to and work with families and community partners to identify needs and find solutions in the best interest of students.
  • Supports are being provided to students and families in response to rapidly changing needs and circumstances.
How are teachers and support staff helping students learn at a distance?

Teachers will continue providing materials and learning activities and be flexible in their approach and expectations of students. Teachers and support staff are supporting learning in the following ways:

Communication and Access to Learning Materials

  • Staying in regular contact with students and their families to provide for continuity of learning and to maintain critical home-school relationships
  • Responding to student and family questions and/or requests in a timely manner
  • Documenting ongoing communication with students and their families
  • Providing feedback to students on their progress and producing final report cards or the
  • Kindergarten Communication of Learning at the end of the year
  • Using board-approved learning platforms (i.e., Brightspace, Google Classroom (including Hangouts and Meet), SchoolMessenger, Thames Valley email and Thames Valley teacher Google sites) to help keep students safe online
  • Providing printed learning materials for students when needed
  • Being as flexible and creative as possible to support students who may not have access to technology or the Internet (e.g., accepting student work via email attachments, two-way conversations to assess student understanding of curricular expectations)

Availability and Focus of Teaching and Learning

  • Planning for and designing learning that is based on the overall expectations for each grade from the Ontario Curriculum
  • Co-planning to integrate additional content (e.g., French, Art) within the minimum focus areas set out by the Ministry of Education
  • Preparing assigned work and providing feedback to students based on their learning
  • There are not required times for students to be online
  • Giving students choice in how they demonstrate their learning in response to students’ circumstances and/or learning needs
  • Providing learning activities that are safe to do at home and require little to no adult supervision
  • Thames Valley will post “Week at a Glance” documents for K-8 students and their families online
  • K-8 families may choose to complete "Week at a Glance" activities in addition to what is provided by their child’s teachers
  • Additional student learning resources are available through the Thames Valley website and the Ministry of Education’s Learn at Home website
What will be the focus and time allotted for learning?
Grades Kindergarten to Grade 3

5 hours of work per student per week
Focus: Literacy and math

Grades 4 to 6

5 hours of work per student per week
Focus: Literacy and math + science and social studies

Grades 7 to 8

10 hours of work per student per week
Focus: Core math, literacy, science and social studies

Grades 9 to 12

3 hours of work per course per week for semestered students; 1.5 hours of work per course per week for non-semestered students
Focus: Achieving credits/completion/graduation

*Hours refer to the approximate amount of time students would spend on the work assigned by teachers.

How will student learning be assessed, evaluated, and reported?

It is the expectation of the Ministry of Education, and our expectation, that students will do their best to complete all assigned work. As always, students and families should connect with their teachers if they have questions about assessment and evaluation.

Final marks/grades will be entered in June and will be based on work until March 13, 2020 and after April 6, 2020. (Note: During Phase 1 of Learn at Home, from March 23, 2020 – April 3, 2020, students were able to participate through Ministry of Education resources, but Thames Valley staff were not involved in active instruction). All work will be assessed with a focus on improving students’ marks/grades. Students have the option to resubmit assignments and complete optional assessments, where possible, to help improve their marks/grades and/or demonstrate their learning. Marks/grades will only improve if students demonstrate further achievement of expectations. Marks/grades should be based on what is reasonable and in the best interest of students during this time. The focus will be on learning and the opportunity for students to demonstrate their learning; no student will be disadvantaged as a result of this emergency distance learning.

Thames Valley has created resources to help answer some frequently asked questions about assessment, evaluation, and reporting for elementary and secondary students. Information is based on the most current direction provided to school boards from the Ministry of Education (I.e., as of the date this document was created – May 18, 2020). Information will be added or revised if updates are provided from the Ministry of Education to school boards.


  • Educators will provide meaningful feedback to support ongoing learning.
  • The Kindergarten Communication of Learning will be based on educators’ observations of key learning and growth in learning prior to March 13, 2020.
  • Within the Kindergarten Communication of Learning, educators may choose to include comments on growth in learning demonstrated during the suspension of in-class instruction when it is to the child’s benefit.

Grade 1 to 8:

  • Teachers will continue to gather evidence and provide feedback on student learning.
  • Teachers will support learning at a distance for the remaining strands in Mathematics, Social Studies, History and Geography, and Science and Technology.
  • Final marks/grades will be based on work completed from September until March 13, 2020. Assessments and learning from now until June can be used to improve marks/grades and inform comments on the final Elementary Provincial Report Card.
  • Learning Skills and Work Habits reported in June 2020 will reflect work from September to March 13, 2020

Grade 9 to 12:

  • Teachers will continue to gather evidence and provide feedback on student learning.
  • Teachers will assign tasks, projects and culminating activities that will be marked for assessment purposes.
  • Teachers will provide feedback and share marks with students in a timely manner. Marks should represent the most accurate reflection of student work, based on what is reasonable and in the best interest of students during this time.
  • From now until June assignments and demonstrations of learning can be used to raise student marks and inform report card comments.
  • Final marks will be based on work completed from September until March 13, 2020, and after April 6, 2020. Final marks will be reported in June 2020 for all secondary students.
  • Learning Skills and Work Habits will be reported in June 2020 and will reflect work from September to March 13, 2020.

Half Credit Courses (Civics and Citizenship, Career Studies, etc.)

  • Students enrolled in Term 1 of Semester 2 (February 4 to April 15): Final marks will be based on work completed as of March 13, 2020. Where appropriate, teachers may adjust this mark in the best interest of students to ensure it is the most accurate reflection of their learning. Final marks will be communicated to students between April 16 and April 23, 2020.
  • Students enrolled in Term 2 of Semester 2 (April 16 to June 18): Teachers will assign tasks, projects and culminating activities that will be marked for assessment purposes.
What can students in grade 12 and students planning to graduate expect?
  • Mid-term marks will only be entered for Grade 12 students and students expecting to graduate. These will be entered by April 23, 2020.
  • Mid-term marks will be used for submission to the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC) and the Ontario College Application Service (OCAS).
  • Mid-term marks will reflect work submitted on or before March 13, 2020 unless assessments (missed and/or additional assignments) completed prior to April 23, 2020 demonstrate further achievement of expectations in which case a student’s mark will be increased accordingly.
  • All marks should represent the most accurate reflection of student work, based on what is reasonable and in the best interest of students during this time.


For students planning to graduate this year:

  • The Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) is cancelled. For students on track to graduate this year, the Ministry of Education has waived the literacy requirement.
  • Completion of community hours (40 hours of community service) is not required for students graduating this school year. Completed community involvement hours will appear on the report cards of graduating students.
  • If you do not graduate this year, these requirements are anticipated to be reinstated in 2020-2021.
3. Supporting Use of Online Learning

What can I do to protect my privacy and stay safe while online?

Technology offers many opportunities to keep connected and access learning resources. Thames Valley has created a fact sheet to help students and their families make informed choices about privacy and information security while learning at a distance.

Additional resources and tips for students and their families can be found on the Thames Valley Online Safety and Digital Citizenship website.

What supports are available to help families access and use technology from home?

The Information Technology Services Team continue to provide resources and support for families to access and use technology from home. Information is available on the Thames Valley website under Technology and Software Support.

Information and resources regarding the following topics are available:

For software/platform (e.g., Google, Brightspace) questions or concerns, families are encouraged to read the Thames Valley Parent Resource Guides posted online for assistance with each of these virtual learning platforms. Videos of parent technology information sessions are also available. If families still have questions or concerns, please contact your child’s teacher.

For families who received a Board-issued device and are in need of support, please email servicesupport@tvdsb.ca. Please include the following information in the email: child’s name, their school/location, and device number (located on the device).

4. Supporting Student Mental Health and Well-Being

Psychology and Social Work staff continue to reach out to families and remain available to students to support them during this difficult time. Students and their families can access support from Kids Help Phone, providing 24/7 counselling and information at 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868.

Families are encouraged to support their children’s mental health and well-being by:

  • Listening to their questions and concerns.
  • Validating their worries.
  • Reassuring them that this situation is temporary.
  • Monitoring and limiting their exposure to information about COVID-19 in the media.

Thames Valley staff recommend the following online resources for students and their families:

More information and supports can be found on the Thames Valley Mental Health and Well-Being Website.

5. Additional Supports for Students and Families
What support is available for students with special education needs?

Teachers and support staff will continue to reach out to students with special needs and their families to help meet specific needs and provide ongoing feedback. For families who have questions about additional support please reach out to your child's principal or vice-principal. Teachers will use students’ Individual Education Plans (IEPs) to accommodate and modify learning activities. Families are encouraged to work with their child’s teacher to identify solutions on how to best support their child with learning at a distance.

Resources to support learning at a distance and student well-being are available on the Thames Valley website and include the following:

  • Weekly learning activities focused on life skills, literacy, math, fine motor/art, and daily physical activities.
  • Links to resources about topics such as self-regulation and organization.
  • Supports for students with specific special education needs (e.g., students with autism).

*Students without Internet access can talk with their teacher or school principal about alternative learning opportunities.

Students who use Special Education Amount (SEA) equipment will have access to their devices at home. Families should have received a phone call from their child’s principal to arrange a ‘curb-side pick-up'. If you have not received a phone call, please contact your child’s principal to arrange a time to safely pick-up your child’s device.

Identifying the needs of exceptional students: Thames Valley supports students to access special education programs and services, through the Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC) process in each school. Together, members of the IPRC are responsible for the following:

  • deciding whether a child should be identified as “exceptional” based on relevant assessments and documentation (i.e., behaviour, communication, intellectual, physical or multiple exceptionalities),
  • identifying and determining the range of Special Education placements, programs, and services needed to meet the student’s identified learning needs,
  • outlining the exceptional student’s learning strengths and needs, and
  • reviewing the identification and support provided for the child at least once in each school year.

Beginning in May 2020, Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC) meetings will occur online where possible and if families agree to participate virtually. Families with children involved with IPRC meetings will be contacted and are asked to respond to IPRC review requests by May 22, 2020. Meetings will be scheduled up until June 12, 2020. Families are asked to speak with their child’s principal if they have any questions or concerns about online IPRC meetings.

What support is available for English language learners?

English as a Second Language and English Literacy Development staff continue to work with teachers and families to support English language learners.

Thames Valley has created the following online resources for teachers supporting English language learners:

Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) are available to support English language learners and their families. Please contact your SWIS worker or your principal/vice-principal if you need assistance. Staff continue to work with community partners and to provide translation services.

What support is available for Indigenous students?

Thames Valley staff from the First Nation, Métis, and Inuit education team continue to work with local Indigenous communities and community partners to provide culturally relevant and responsive supports for Indigenous students and their families.

  • Indigenous students and their families can contact their First Nations, Métis and Inuit School Counselor or Graduation Coach, for additional support and assistance during this period of learning at a distance.
  • Students and their families are also encouraged to visit the Thames Valley First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education website for additional resources and updates to support learning at a distance.
  • Students who are residing in Oneida Nation of the Thames, Chippewas of the Thames First Nation and Munsee Delaware Nation, can also reach out to the Community Education Advocates for support.

Thames VaIley and Indigenous Services of Western University are offering online academic support for Indigenous students from Thames Valley. Indigenous students can connect with current Western students who can help in a variety of subjects, including Math, Science, English, and French.

Academic tutors will also be offering:

  • virtual drop-in spaces
  • support by phone
  • resources like study sheets and a summer reading list

Information is available through the Indigenous Services of Western University Facebook page and Instagram.

What learning opportunities are available over the summer?

Please visit the Summer Programs and Camps website for updates regarding programs and registration. Information about program offerings and schedules will be updated as Thames Valley receives direction from the Ministry of Education and Public Health offices.

Please note that High School Here I Come! will be offered August 24-27, 2020 for students entering Grade 9 in fall 2020. Details about registration and location will be posted online as soon as this information is available.

New Credit Grade 9 to 12 summer eLearning courses are open to current Thames Valley secondary day school students, and adult students who are working towards completing their Secondary School Diploma. Registration is open until June 26, 2020 at 4 p.m.

For Summer 2020, High School MATH Here I Come! is being offered as an online program. This is a non-credit summer program for grade 8 students entering high school. The program focuses on helping to develop students’ math skills in preparation for high school math. Registration is open until June 26, 2020 at 4 p.m.

What information and resources are available for students who are starting Kindergarten in fall 2020?

Over the coming weeks, school teams will be sharing information and resources with families of students who have registered to start Kindergarten in fall 2020.

The Early Years team has created an electronic version of Thames Valley’s Getting Ready for Kindergarten, Setting your child up for success at school, which is available in 8 languages. This resource will be available on all school websites under the “Welcome to Kindergarten” tab starting May 22, 2020. In addition, Thames Valley’s Speech and Language team has created a booklet, Rock the Talk: Why Talking with Your Child Matters, which will be located under the same tab.


6. How can I stay informed?
What are some upcoming important dates?

May 15, 2020

May 22, 2020

  • Date for families who have a child with an exceptionality to respond to Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC) meeting requests.

June 5, 2020

  • Elementary PA  Day converted into an instructional day as per the Ministry of Education
  • Learning at a distance will continue

June 11, 2020

  • Elementary Teachers will share report cards with their Principals for review

June 19-25, 2020

  • Secondary Exam Days converted into instructional days as per the Ministry of Education
  • Focus will be on review and consolidation of student learning

June 26, 2020

  • Registration Closes at 4 p.m. for New Credit Grade 9 to 12 summer eLearning Courses and High School MATH Here I Come!
  • Elementary and Secondary PA Day converted to final instructional day of the 2019-2020 school year as per the Ministry of Education

June Report Cards

  • Elementary and Secondary report cards will be shared electronically
  • More details to follow
Where can I find the most up-to-date information about school closures and learning at a distance?

Families, students, and staff can stay connected through:

We will be posting a question and answer video every week based on questions from our social media channels. We will also continue speaking with mainstream media to reach as many Thames Valley community members as possible.

As a board, we continue to maintain high expectations for all staff and students within our school communities. Although we appreciate that we may be presented with many challenges, open lines of communication, patience and flexibility will be required by all of us, as we work together and adapt to this new method of learning. It is the goal of all staff in the Thames Valley to continue to provide quality learning opportunities, even in these very unprecedented times.

Printable: Learning at a Distance: Navigating the Journey Together - Phase 2 Second Edition - May 19, 2020 (PDF)
Printable: Supporting and Securing Kids Online at Home (PDF)
Printable: Learning at a Distance: Frequently Asked Questions - Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting for Secondary Students
Printable: Learning at a Distance: Frequently Asked Questions - Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting for Elementary Students


Contact Us