Below are Frequently Asked Questions to help answer any questions our families may have about the Student Census.
What is the WRDSB Student Census?
The WRDSB Student Census is a confidential and voluntary survey for all parents/guardians of students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 3 and for all students in Grades 4 to 12. The goal of the student census is to better understand the diversity within the WRDSB. The census will allow us to gain a deeper understanding of the cultural, social and demographic makeup of our students. The census will be launched on April 19, 2021.
Why do we have a Student Census?
The Student Census aligns with the WRDSB’s commitments to equity and inclusion and evidence-based decision-making. Ontario school boards are mandated to collect identity-based student information by 2023 under Ontario’s Anti-Racism Act. Identity-based data collection is also supported by the Ministry of Education’s Education Equity Secretariat and the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
What questions will be in the Student Census?
The census will include questions about students’ cultural, social, and sociodemographic identity. It specifically asks about Indigenous status, ethnic/cultural background, racial identity, first language, nationality, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, health/disability status, socioeconomic circumstances, age, and grade.
What if someone is questioning their sexuality or wants to remain in the closet?
Students are encouraged to respond to questions in a way that makes them feel safest and most comfortable. Students can choose not to participate in the census, skip a question, or respond to questions in the way that best suits them. We take confidentiality very seriously. Teachers, principals, other school board staff, and the Ministry of Education will not see individual student answers. WRDSB Research and IT staff will be able to see your individual answers, but only if they need to in order to do research. In all reports about the Student Census, your answers will be combined with the answers of all other students so that no one will be able to tell which answers you provided.
Is the Student Census confidential?
The WRDSB Student Census is confidential, but it is not anonymous. Individual student information will not be reported on. A small number of WRDSB research and information technology staff will be able to match census responses to student email addresses and identification numbers but only when required for the purposes of conducting research. In all reports, student information will be combined with the information of other students in a way that will not allow individual students to be identified. The WRDSB Student Census process follows provincial freedom of information and privacy laws (i.e., Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, MFIPPA). Detailed information on our privacy and data security protocols is available on the Student Census webpage.
How was the Student Census prepared?
The Student Census is aligned to our WRDSB’s Operational Plan and our commitment to an organizational culture rooted in human rights and equity. WRDSB staff conducted consultations with students, diverse community members, Ontario’s Education Equity Secretariat, and other Ontario school boards to ensure that our process was based on the best advice and best strategies available.
Can you opt-out of the Student Census?
Every question on the Student Census is optional. Every student and parent/guardian can choose which (if any) questions they wish to answer. Parents/guardians of children under 18 years of age can request that their child not participate in Student Census. Information on opting out of the Student Census can be found on the Student Opt-Out Process webpage.
If it’s voluntary, why do we have to opt-out?
The opt-out process is for parents/guardians of students in Grades 4 to 12 to inform the board that they do not want their child to participate in the census. If a student is opted out of the census they will not receive an email invitation to complete the census. While other students in the class complete the census, students that have been opted-out will be given other activities to work on. Any student can choose for themselves, at any time if they want to complete the census. If they are not opted out, they will receive an email invitation to participate but are not required to respond to any of the questions.
When/how will “low tech”/Cohort D students will be doing the census?
All students in cohort D will receive a paper copy of the student census in the mail during the week of April 19th, the same time as the launch of the Student Census online. The mailout will include addressed return envelopes to allow them to return their student census responses by mail. If a student or parent/guardian does not receive the Student Census electronically or by mail, they are encouraged to reach out to the WRDSB Research Department at email@example.com.