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UCDSB Well-Prepared to Welcome Newcomers
UCDSB Well-Prepared to Welcome Newcomers
Posted on 02/10/2015

Upper Canada District School Board Well-Prepared to Welcome Syrian Refugees

(Brockville) – As the crisis in Syria worsens, the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) is well-prepared to welcome newcomers from that country, Superintendent Tim Mills told the Board of Trustees Wednesday night.

Through UCDSB schools and the TR Leger Immigrant Services (TRLIS) branch, the board has supports in place to welcome a potentially large number of refugee students and their families, from Syria and beyond. The provincial government plans to settle 10,000 Syrian refugees in Ontario by the end of 2016, and this area could see an influx in the near future, said Mills. To date, the UCDSB is proud to have welcomed three families into our Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools and the TR Leger School of Adult, Alternative and Continuing Education. 

“Because of the nature of the conflict in Syria, and the difficulties with resettlement that refugees have experienced, we’ve been told to expect some newcomers arriving in Canada will have higher needs than those arriving from other countries,” said Mills. “In some cases, families have lost one or both parents in the conflict. As well, some families will have children who have experienced deep trauma, or are faced with other challenges that come with learning a new language and adapting to a new culture.

“We’re fortunate in that at TR Leger, we have access to English as a Second Language programming and staff experienced in receiving newcomers. With our community partners, we already offer a wide variety of supports and services to welcome these newcomers and ease their transition to life in the communities we serve.”

Mills said TRLIS can offer newcomers a number of supports including:

· Providing help navigating community services

· Offering information that immigrants require on needs assessment, housing, settlement plan development, schools, volunteering, community connections, and English and French conversation practice circles

· Language instruction for immigrants settling in the Cornwall area, language proficiency assessments (by appointment) and English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction for adults in Brockville and Cornwall

Services offered through UCDSB schools include:

· Language support for all English Language Learners (ELL) enrolled in K-12

· ELL student assessments of English proficiency in listening, speaking, reading and writing

· Help to allow immigrants to meet curriculum expectations such as extra time to complete assignments, bilingual supports and culturally diverse curriculum materials

· Support at some schools from English Language Instructors – specially trained teachers who can provide one-on-one instruction

· Credit courses in ESL for secondary students at some schools

· Support for mental health challenges

The next steps for the board include: providing professional development for administrators, teachers and support staff to prepare them for the influx of newcomers; taking an inventory of existing support services accessible on the board's internal website and Virtual Learning Commons; identifying potential requirements for provincial funding; ensuring ongoing coordination of services; and continued consultation with community agencies and groups.

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