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December 18, 2020

Happy Holidays!

We hope that you, your family and neighbours are getting through as best as possible. With that in mind, this month’s newsletter offers some tips and suggestions.  

  1. How to stay safe over the holidays
  2. How to stay connected with the Howard Community
  3. Fundraising 
    • FlipGive happening now
    • More to come in new year
    • Call for volunteer to coordinate
  4. Holiday Hampers
  5. Updates on annual events (School photos, musical, spring social)
  6. Don’t forget to shop local!

Follow the links above for details on any of these topics. 

Stay safe over the holidays

Our city is still under the highest level of restrictions as we know too well, and we are seeing stabilization but not a significant decline in transmission of COVID. 

We are being asked not to visit with anyone outside of our households and to avoid going out for anything other than essential purposes. This includes playdates and the like. Toronto Public Health recently published new guidelines for staying safe during the holidays. The full list of do’s and don’ts are very important to follow. 

Why do our behaviours matter?

  • These restrictions are designed to bring the cases back down, so
    • businesses can reopen 
    • schools can operate safely in-person
    • visits with loved ones can be safe once again
  • We now have concrete evidence that there is a lot of silent transmission occurring between children and their family-members/caregivers – the more we look for cases the more we find
  • Children often do not develop symptoms when they are infected
  • Efforts indoors are wasted if the outdoor risks are not minimized as well

Please have a conversation with your child about wearing their masks when they are walking with friends to/from school or playing in the yard. 

Let’s also set good examples as parents and wear masks walking to school, chatting with one another off the school property, etc.

As always, keep encouraging your kids. What we do now keeps our community safe so we can enjoy the good times ahead when this is all behind us.

How to stay connected with the Howard Community

Contact your School Council any time by emailing us at or send anonymous thoughts via the Google Form.

Stay in the know by signing up for the blog and asking it to push notifications to your email. Then, make sure you add “Howard Public School Council <>” to your safe senders list and/or list of contacts so that emails make it into your inbox.

The School Council doesn’t maintain any social channels but there are a number of ones you might want to check out:

Of course, you can always contact the school administration: 

30 Marmaduke St. Toronto, ON M6R 1T2

(416) 393-9255 

Principal: Esme McKenzie 

Vice-Principal(s): Suzy Papadopoulos 

Office Staff: Nancy Janes 

Superintendent: Debbie Donsky 416-394-2046, 

Trustee: Robin Pilkey 416- 395-8787 

PIAC: Parent Involvement Advisory Committee

Pen Pal Project

We are looking for Howard in-school students to volunteer to write a holiday card to one of the Howard virtual students. There are 41 virtual students, so we are looking for 41 volunteers. 

This is a great way for students to connect to each other, especially during the holidays and under covid.  

Please ask your child to volunteer and let us know if they are willing by emailing Thank you!


Most years, our school community spends money at the Spring Social, Fall Fête, Musical and on Pizza Lunches. These and other fundraisers have made it possible to support kids in need, enhance science and arts curricula, maintain capital assets like chromebooks and the piano, and so much more!

  1. FlipGive: you’ve probably heard us talk about this already. It is an app that allows the school to earn commission on shopping that you do at places like No Frills, Sobeys, Amazon, Walmart, Starbucks and many more! If you haven’t already, please sign up and ask friends and family to do the same. It’s easy: go to and use the Howard team code: BLR64S
  1. Help us come up with fundraising ideas for January: You’ve got ideas. You’ve got preferences. Tell us how you think we should raise money for the school this year:
  2. Be the school’s champion! We need a volunteer to coordinate the different fundraising efforts. Help make sure we don’t have multiple groups asking the same donors for money. Help create a strategy that is mindful of the exceptional circumstances we are all living through. Work with the Council Exec and other Committees to execute this strategy. If you have a bit of time to spare and want to play a key role in the school’s success, please reach out to us via
Holiday Hampers

There is a tradition at Howard where the School Council allocates funds to be given to Howard families in need at this time of year. The Council purchases gift cards that families can use to purchase groceries, clothes, or gifts for their kids. These gift cards are very discreetly distributed by the Howard Principal to the families that need it most. 

This process is so discreet that you probably didn’t know it happens every year! 

If you would like to donate specifically to the Holiday Hamper initiative, please use School Cash Online and use the notes field to indicate your wishes. 

  1. Go to
  2. Sign in or create an account if you are new to this system
  3. Look for the blue “Make a Donation” button – this will ensure you receive a tax receipt for your gift
  4. Scroll down to “Gift Information” and be sure to pick “Howard Jr PS” from the long drop down list of schools.
  5. Fill out the rest of the form and complete your donation

If you have questions, please email the TDSB’s School Cash Online support staff at

Updates on Annual Events 

When it comes to Annual or Special Events during Covid, sadly, you can assume that they are postponed or cancelled. If this changes, the school has promised to share the news with us as soon as they have it. 

In the meantime, we have a little bit of information to share.

  1. School photos: given that no one is allowed in the school, including photographers, this year’s photos are on hold. The TDSB is planning to revisit options in January. 
  2. Musical: the talented students, volunteers and staff who worked so hard on The Lion King last year are still very keen to perform. However, many of the students are now at Fern. Discussions are underway to see how we might do a combined performance at some post-covid date.
  3. Spring social: The social as we know it is not happening this year. We are contemplating an online version of the silent auction and looking for someone to volunteer to lead the thinking around ways to bring the grown up community together. If you’re interested, please let us know!
  4. Graduation: at the moment, the school is consumed with the core of its functions and not yet thinking of what Grade 6 Graduation might look like in 2021. We are looking for parents to come forward and help come up with options. Please get in touch if you are interested in making sure that Howard’s graduates of 2021 receive the best-possible send off in June. 
Please Shop Local

Let’s continue to support our local business owners by finding them online. Most of the businesses that have supported our school over the years have gone out of their way to create contactless shopping; on their website, by email or good-ole-fashioned phone calls. A tiny bit of effort from you could go a long way to saving a business and the jobs in our community.  

A list of businesses owned by Howard families is growing… visit this thread on Facebook for the latest.

November 27, 2020

November News

This past Tuesday the Howard Public School Council hosted the monthly meeting and this year’s annual budget discussion. Watch a recording of the meeting if you missed it. 

Wow, what a month it has been” has become an understatement. We hope that you, your family and neighbours are getting through as best as possible. With that in mind, this month’s newsletter offers some tips and suggestions.  

  1. Shop Local to save the Roncesvalles Main Street and businesses owned by Howard families
  2. Virtual students are still Howard Hawks
  3. Tips for keeping your family safe from Covid

Follow the links above for details on any of these topics. 

Stay in touch by emailing us at or send anonymous thoughts via the Google Form.

Our community is a strong one. We will make it through!

Sincerely, The HPSC Exec Committee: Taralyn, Sima, Lesley, Alice, Andrea, Danielle, Jen and Samantha

Shop Local 

Let’s support our local business owners this holiday season as we always would, except by finding them online. Most of the businesses that have supported our school over the years have gone out of their way to create contactless shopping; on their website, by email or good-ole-fashioned phone calls. A tiny bit of effort from you could go a long way to saving a business and the jobs in our community.  

A list of businesses owned by Howard families is growing… visit this thread on Facebook for the latest.

If there is something you absolutely cannot find at one of Roncy’s retailers, please use FlipGive when shopping elsewhere. This super easy fundraising platform makes it easy for you to shop online and in-person while generating commission cash for the school. Use code BLR64S to sign up for the Howard team. 

Virtual Students are Still Howard Hawks 

This is a shout out those families whose Hawks are at home doing virtual school. We are thinking of you!

If you have ideas or suggestions on how we can stay connected and make sure your kids know that they are still part of the Hawks-nest, please let us know. Email us at

Tips for keeping your family safe from Covid

This month, our resident epidemiologist has continued to work directly with the school’s administration to interpret the latest research and offer custom recommendations. Dr. Thomas also offers these tips for you:

The most recent research shows that children do spread COVID-19, though often do not show symptoms. There may be more spread occurring in schools generally because children aren’t as often tested. So, we need to stay vigilant, keep up the positive reinforcement, so we can weather this next wave smoothly.

We can all do our part in talking with our kids about 3 things:

  1. acknowledge with them what a challenging time this is and how proud we are of them for doing their part with the masking, lack of playdates and visits to grandparents etc., 
  2. remind them that they should wear their masks outdoors when they are together, so we don’t have any spread at school or off school grounds – all of the efforts indoors are negated if masks are not on when in close range outdoors – and 
  3. reassure them that this will come to an end. We’ve got a number of months longer to hold out, but we will look back one day and be proud of how we took care of one another.

Please continue to send your kids to school with a mask plus a spare. With the cooler temperatures, condensation is causing masks to get soggy and gross. If you can, make sure your kids have the option of switching into a clean mask after playing outdoors.

If you have extra masks, please consider donating them to the school in support of families that don’t have spares. Email us at and we can arrange pickup of any donations.

Within the broader city efforts are being focused on areas that really need extra supports to bring cases down. Change is happening in a good way. There’s reason to stay optimistic. 

And on the big picture front, the vaccines work – we truly have a light at the end of the tunnel.

October 16, 2020

Welcome Message from the Chair

Hi Howard Families,

I have the great honour of taking over from Erin McCaughan and David Sword as this year’s Chair of the Howard Public School Council (HPSC). I’m the mother of Levi (grade two) and Luna (JK) as well as a local realtor and passionate advocate for our school and community. I am thrilled to be  joined by an equally passionate and knowledgeable group of Howard parents on this year’s Executive team.

The 2020-21 school year has already challenged us all, but we are focused on creating the best possible learning opportunities for all Howard students! The Council works closely with the school’s administration to help identify and implement solutions as well as enhancements.

The Council’s Executive and Committees are already working hard to make the best of this challenging year, and we look forward to collaborating with the broader Howard community to support our students, teachers and staff. 

Your Executive Committee Members are:

So far, this year’s volunteer committees and their leads are:

  • Arts – Alex Dean
  • Equity – Midori Miyamoto & Haley Gaber-Kat
  • Outdoor Learning – Kate Van de Ven
  • School Yard Revitalisation – Lee Greenberg
  • Sport – Kathy Narraway

To get involved with one of these committees or to create your own, email

Monthly Council Meetings

Join us! Every month, usually on the third Wednesday at 7pm, all grownups in the Howard community are invited to attend the Council meeting. These days, that means signing on to a Zoom meeting.

Ask your questions

Whether you can attend the meeting or not, let us know your questions by filling out this anonymous form. During our next meeting, a TDSB Health Nurse, our in-house Epidemiologist, and the school’s administration will do their best to provide answers.


Wednesday 21 October at 7pm via Zoom


The draft agenda can be found here. If you have items you’d like added to the agenda, please email

Where to Find Information & How to Reach Us

The Council maintains a website and blog. Sign up for the blog to get a notification of each new post. We use email for outreach rather than social media. Send us a message anytime at We’ve posted social media links to independently run channels like those for the School Yard Revitalization capital campaign, Fall Fete and others on our website.

The Council also assembles a class list with parent contact information for each homeroom/area. Participation in these lists is optional. Lists are assembled by the Council’s Secretary and include a point person for distribution of occasional messages; think ‘phone tree 2.0’. 

While booking playdates and sending birthday party invites out this year is unlikely, we’d still like to ensure we have your updated information so that parents may stay connected. Printed copies of the DRAFT class lists will go out next week. Please review and provide all changes by Thursday October 22nd.

COVID Countermeasures

Our community has many strengths. There are at least two epidemiologists within our parent community! One has offered to take on a new role within the Council’s Exec; Andrea Thomas is our Health & Safety adviser.

Andrea offers this advice:

Let’s ask ourselves: “What is it that we need to do?” vs. “What is it that we want to do”? 

We are all experiencing pandemic fatigue at this point. Fortunately, we felt a little bit of normalcy over the summer months, when cases hit a low point in the region and province. We enjoyed widened social bubbles, and our kids were maybe even able to forget about the pandemic for a little while. 

Now that our kids are back in school and we are watching alarming trends in the city, there has probably never been a time throughout this pandemic that our personal decisions have such potentially huge ramifications. Let’s all continue to keep this at the front of our minds with every decision we make about our daily interactions, and continually ask ourselves whether it is a ‘need’ or a ‘want’ – to visit relatives, to have a playdate, to go to an indoor public setting, to have a social visit – and lean really strongly away from the ‘wants’ for now. 

Our kids, their teachers, and the staff at Howard are working hard to lower risks of transmission in the school, but in the weeks ahead we will need to be extra vigilant in our continued efforts outside of school to keep our community, and Howard, as safe as possible.

Outdoor Learning

Thank you so much to all the families who volunteered to kickstart our outside class infrastructure during the early weeks of the school year! Your efforts have been so appreciated and Howard teachers and students have told us how much they enjoyed having opportunities to teach and learn in the fresh air. This topic has been the subject of some evolving policy discussions within the TDSB so we’ve had a few road bumps, but are working with Howard’s wonderful school administration to get as many classes back outside as often as we can. Stay tuned! Visit the Outdoor Learning Committee’s page to see what is being done right now.

How to Help

Donate to The School Yard revitalization project

We aren’t the only ones to recognize the importance and opportunities of outdoor learning. We recently learned that the TDSB has expanded the potential scope of our School Yard project. They are giving us until the end of October to raise $50,000 to remodel the “Cove” (the northwest corner of the yard).  A new Cove area will include new trees, a new mulch surface, a ‘lobster trap’ timber play structure, a storage shed, and an accessible outdoor classroom along with a raised timber stage. This opportunity to create a new functional open-air classroom couldn’t come at a better time!

To complete the final stage of our project, the TDSB will spend a significant amount of money to do all the preparatory work. As a result, Howard families will get tremendous value for every dollar we raise.

If you are able, please donate generously!  All donations get a tax receipt.

Hat and Glove Drive for Outdoor Learning Opportunities

The current public health reality only makes it clearer that we will want to support outside learning as much as possible in the coming weeks, including when the weather turns a little chillier. To this end and with the principals’ support, we’d like to do a community drive for hats and gloves for those days when children come underprepared or forget their own at home. HOW to DONATE

How to Get Involved

Get involved with one of the committees or create your own. Email to find out more

Sign up for the blog to get a notification of each new post

Follow one or more of the facebook, twitter or instagram channels created, not by the Council, but by others in our community. Social media links worth following

Follow COVID guidelines

Donate to revitalize the Cove

Save up your hats and gloves to donate to Outdoor Learning. More info

Remember that we all have to wear a mask on school grounds, even if you are only there for drop off or pickup.