Community Support & Learning @Home

Dear HDCH Community,

From the Staff and Leadership Team at HDCH, I want to assure you that you are daily in our prayers. We are aware of the struggles many of you are facing. We are grateful for the support and the grace you have shown us. We are grateful that this endeavour in Christian education is a partnership with you. We are here to do our best for your children, to continue sowing into their lives as the Spirit works in them. Even as you have continued to support us in this extraordinary season, we want to support you. We are here for you, to serve you, our HDCH families. We thank God for you.

I wish to highlight today two areas of both joy and struggle for the HDCH community:

  1. Learning at home;
  2. School and family finances.

Learning at Home
We are half-way through our second week of remote learning. It has been a joy to reconnect with our students, to see their faces, hear their voices, and to engage with them in their learning. It hasn’t been easy as we seek to find the sweet spot that challenges our students without overwhelming them, where they continue to grow in faith and intellect and compassion. For each student, that sweet spot is different and varies each day as we all come to terms with our own diminished capacities in this season.

You may have seen in our communication in Edsby on Monday that we have made adjustments and clarifications to the expectations of our students in our desire to find a healthy balance for them in their at-home learning:

  1. Classwork will be given and assignments due only on the days set for that class (Mon/Wed or Tue/Thu in a regular week) to avoid overlap with other class due dates.
  2. We will be aiming at a total of three hours per course per week, including both synchronous (together as a class) and asynchronous (on their own time) learning. Senior level academic courses may require slightly more time.
  3. Fridays, when no class is scheduled in a regular week, can be used for catching up, connecting with teachers or learning support workers (LSW’s) for extra support, or peer collaboration.

Midterm reports will be published a week later than originally scheduled, due to the extra week of adaptation after the March break. We will make sure Grade 12 midterm marks are ready to be sent to post-secondary institutions on the due date, but we plan to publish in Edsby the full reports with comments the following week, April 30th.

School and Family Finances
We are aware that many people in our province, including our HDCH community, have taken a financial hit in the current crisis, whether through lay-offs, business losses or other fall-out from the shutdown. As a Christian community, and as members of wider church communities, we hope we can lean on each other for help during this time, even as we lean on the Lord.

Although our programme delivery has temporarily shifted off campus, we remain steadfast in our mission, cultivating character through learning for lives of service to God. I hope you will notice that your children are known and cared for by their teachers in what is for many a stressful and uncertain season. Furthermore, we are continuing to deliver the Ontario curriculum with our distinctively reformed Christian perspective, and, thanks to the work of our teachers and support staff, are still on track to offer credits towards the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), as approved by the Ministry of Education.

Whilst HDCH is currently saving some facility operational costs with campus closure, we are also losing rental and other revenue. We are still therefore dependent on tuition payments in order to fulfil our contractual obligations to our teachers and support staff.

Our Board, Finance Committee, and staff are exploring ways to relieve financial strain both in the present and in our budget for the 2020-21 school year. However, this does not necessarily mitigate a financial crisis you might be experiencing as a family right now. We encourage you to communicate directly with our Director of Finance, Sherry Osinga (sosinga@hdch.org), for information about tuition assistance or rescheduling payments if you find yourself in such a position. In the same vein, please contact me (dtodd@hdch.org) or Sandra Baker (sbaker@hdch.org) if you feel called to offer help through tuition assistance to other families at this time.

We are also grateful to both our Federal and Provincial governments for their initiatives to support those who have lost income, and we urge you to explore the following links if any are applicable to your situation. These include enhancements to Child Benefits and Employment Insurance as well as other income supports and wage subsidies.

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/coronavirus.html
https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html

See here for an explanation of some programmes and instructions on how to apply:
https://business.financialpost.com/personal-finance/taxes/what-the-government-is-offering-you-in-coronavirus-related-benefits-and-how-to-get-them
https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/how-to-apply-for-the-canadian-emergency-response-benefit-and-ei-sickness-pay-1.4858089
https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charity-life/covid-19/a-charitys-guide-to-canadas-covid-19-governmental-supports-and-programs/

The following Ontario initiative offers direct one-time support for each child you have aged 0-12 (for those HDCH families with younger siblings) or 0-21 for children with identified special needs:
https://www.iaccess.gov.on.ca/FamilyAppWeb/public/index.xhtml


Thank you again, our wonderful HDCH community, for your encouragement, support, and prayers.

In all of this, we place our trust in God. We belong to the Lord, and we rely fully on His grace and loving kindness toward us. He is our provider, our rock and our salvation!

Duncan Todd, Principal
Hamilton District Christian High