Dear Parents and Friends,
I would like to start my message by wishing a very happy Mother’s Day to all our loving and kind-hearted moms and their miraculous energy.
Even though we believe we were almost ready for the reopening of schools for preschool and elementary, the announcement this week by the Quebec Government that it will be postponed for the Greater Montreal area until the 25th of May comes as welcome news to many. École Socrates-Démosthène will be welcoming its students as of May 25, 2020. Taking into account all the circumstances, this is a huge logistical undertaking and our School is well into the planning and organizing. As has been previously indicated, the return to class will be optional for preschool and elementary school-aged children.
We reiterate that parents are not required to send their children back to school. Some parents may choose to keep their child at home if, for example, the child or someone else in the home has a weak immune system. In order to plan accordingly our School needs to know how many children will be returning to class on May 25. This will help us to properly organize our campus environments and allow us to better coordinate our human resources.
Our School is committed to providing a quality education to all children whether they will be in our buildings or whether they will remain at home. Our extraordinary educators will make every effort to continue teaching and assure all our students receive the same education. It is important to note that because of the exceptional circumstances, MÉES has suspended the Régime pédagogique, which prescribes every aspect concerning educational services. In the process, our educators have been directed to focus on the core courses. Some activities like physical education have been cancelled. Class compositions and schedules will be re-arranged. Your children, whether at home or in class, might not have all their regular educators working with them.
Our teachers are also focusing on reorganizing their educational material and methods and are once again adapting to another new reality. For students returning to class, we will be providing the safest environment possible respecting all Santé publique guidelines and MÉES directives. To ensure the social distancing safety measure, a maximum of 15 students will be permitted per classroom. High school services will not be offered to our students in school until the fall. Our high school teachers will continue working from a distance with their students until the end of the school year.
HCGM and School personnel are leaving no stone unturned with respect to health protocols. Personal protective equipment (PPE) has already been ordered for staff. Protective barriers are going up. On top of the sanitizers and disinfectants that we had in all our campuses prior to the closure, more have been ordered. New signage is being installed, including distancing and directional markers. The Staff is coordinating bathroom usage, circulation in corridors and staircases. They are also organizing recreation and lunch periods to assure safety measures are respected. Special attention will be given to arrivals and departures. And our maintenance staff will be continually disinfecting once we reopen our campuses.
On top of the directives and guidelines each campus will be forwarding to families over the next few days, please take note that certain services like cafeteria use and hot lunches will not resume, therefore all returning students must bring lunch from home. Drinking fountains will not be accessible and all children must have their own water bottles. The use of PPE for students has not been demanded by MÉES but students are free to bring their own. Parents and visitors will not be allowed to enter our school buildings. Students arriving late will have to return home.
Furthermore, there will be an opportunity, by invitation, for parents to pick up their child’s belongings from school. More information will be provided by your campus administrators. For now, teachers and staff will continue their distance relationship with their students and their parents.
École Socrates-Démosthène will also be providing SÉP daycare services as of May 25. The same health and safety protocols will be respected. The specific details will be given by the SÉP administrators.
Our School will also have access to its bus transport system. As the Minister has announced, drivers will be protected with PPE. The campus administration will be following up with you for this service as well.
On the subject of school fees, we realize that many of our parents have questions and preoccupations. Since our School has continued to operate despite the closure, tuition fees will not be reimbursed. Credits (reimbursements for students leaving our School), will be offered for certain services, including SÉP and transport during the period the School was closed. MÉES has recommended schools wait until the end of the school year before addressing this in order to have the complete portrait of this ever evolving situation.
As for the school uniform for next year, fitting trials have been cancelled. Our new supplier, Maison d’Uniformes Lemira, is preparing on-line ordering forms that will be available soon.
In addition to the incredible efforts our teachers are making to educate your children from a distance, MÉES will continue to offer tools that could also supplement these efforts. They include:
– The École ouverte website, created by MÉES, where you can choose from thousands of resources to learn, create and have fun with your children.
– The trousses pédagogiques (educational kits) consist of a menu of fun learning activities allowing students to maintain their skills by school level (preschool, elementary and secondary). They will be personalized by Faculty before being transmitted to you.
– Télé-Québec en classe offers original contents to students from prekindergarten to high school on television and on the Web.
Furthermore, our School and our students, led by our Greek teachers, will be taking part in the International Student Painting Competition: “Near or far, WE are all ONE”, as will thousands of children from around the globe confined to their homes because of the COVID-19 situation.
Socrates-Démosthène remains part of the radio show Ta Molivia Ston Aera on Mike FM 105.1. Thanks to a remarkable collaborative effort by HCGM officials, our Greek teachers, our students, their families and Mike FM, every Wednesday from 12:00-1:00 pm, we can all witness and hear first-hand what makes our School, and particularly our students, so special.
Should schools not reopen this year, our students’ final evaluation will be based on the first two completed terms. All ministerial exams have been cancelled for this year. MÉES has made it clear that there is no possibility of extending the school year.
It might not be easy, but together we will get there!
The Director General,