The Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) is making changes to its Learning Strategies Program.

The change to the program will see students that were previously enrolled have access to the “accommodations and interventions” they need from their home school. “Regular classroom placement is always our first choice for students, but the board does have special education system classes for some students,” Shedden says, adding putting special needs students in a regular class setting with appropriate support is “always best” for the student.

The program is currently offered to elementary students at seven TLDSB schools. While the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging, District Manager of Corporate Communications for TLDSB Catherine Shedden says it allowed them to make changes to the programming virtually before fully implementing it. “It was quite successful,” she says of the pilot program.

“We’re confident this is going to be an effective program,” Shedden says.

In a letter obtained by the MyMuskokaNow.com newsroom, Superintendent of Learning Jennifer Johnston outlines that teachers will undergo professional development to help them better understand, “what a learning disability is and how to develop an effective program for each student.” Teachers will also have direct support in building class programming. Johnston says in the letter, workshops will be created for students and teachers to work on a “variety of topics.”

“All of our special education programs and supports are reviewed every year,” Shedden says, adding budget constraints have caused them to make changes to the Learning Strategies Program. “Trillium Lakelands can’t continue to overspend on special education the way it has.”

The seven schools that previously offered the program will be in touch with parents to discuss what the transition will be like. In her letter, Johnston says this will be done between now and September. “A clear transition plan will be developed, including parent and student voice,” she writes.