As the 2021-2022 school year is just around the corner, we continue to plan and prepare for another year of learning. On August 3rd, the Ministry of Education announced that schools are permitted to open for in-person learning with health and safety measures in place. This means that students will return to in-person learning daily, for the full day (300 minutes of instruction). The last week of August, we will be polling parents/guardians, asking those who are willing to voluntarily share the vaccination status of their child(ren), to support the health units’ ability to conduct contact tracing. Immunization is strongly recommended by health units and we are advised that the majority of youth have already received at least one dose. Unvaccinated students may experience longer periods out of school if there is a case or outbreak. For more information, please check with your local health unit.
While many of the measures that were in place last year will continue, there are some changes, thus the attached information is intended to provide clarification on several school-related topics. If you have any questions after reviewing the information, please feel free to reach out to your school Principal. As learning is in-person, no action is required for returning students, as only those requesting virtual/remote learning must complete a form, as outlined in the Virtual/Remote section below.
All staff and students must self-screen every day before attending school. Any staff or students who are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID must not attend school.
A symptomatic student is encouraged to seek testing and for more information about testing
please check with your local health unit. As a reminder, if a student is symptomatic, the rest of the household – if not fully immunized – must also isolate while awaiting test results. The online tool is still active ( https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/ ) and more information will be coming once the screening tool is updated.
Students in Grades 1 to 12 are required to wear properly fitted non-medical or cloth masks indoors, including in hallways and during classes, as well as on school vehicles. Masks may be temporarily removed indoors to engage in some physical activities or to consume food
or drink, with a minimum distance of two metres maintained between cohorts and as much distancing as possible within a class cohort. Students in Kindergarten are encouraged but not required to wear non-medical or cloth masks in indoor spaces, as well as on school vehicles. Students are expected to bring their own masks to wear on student transportation and at school. Non-medical masks will also be made available at school. Students who require a mask exemption are to contact the school Principal. (Note: School staff, visitors and bus drivers are also required to wear medical masks and, depending on their role, additional personal protective equipment).
PROTECTIVE STRATEGIES – EFFECTIVE SEPTEMBER 2021
HAND HYGIENE AND RESPIRATORY ETIQUETTE
As hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette are among the most important protective strategies, we will continue to provide and reinforce good hand hygiene, including the use of hand sanitizer (with a minimum 60% alcohol concentration).
RECESS AND BREAKS OUTDOORS
Students do not need to wear masks or to stay within their class cohort during recess and breaks outdoors, but distancing is still encouraged between class cohorts, as much as possible. Shared materials (ie. basketballs) outdoors are permitted, with appropriate hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. Staff are encouraged, but not required to wear masks outdoors.
CLEANING AND DISINFECTION
We will continue to maintain our enhanced cleaning practices in schools, which includes cleaning plus disinfection at least twice a day, particularly of high touch surfaces. A poster outlining our enhanced cleaning practices is available on our website (www.adsb.on.ca).
SHARED MATERIALS / SHARED SPACES
The use of shared materials is permitted, as items such as manipulatives for math, books, computers, art supplies and gym equipment are important for learning. The Ministry guideline advises that the risk associated with transmission is low, thus an on-going focus on hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette will continue, to reduce the risk of infection related to shared equipment. Similarly, shared homerooms, libraries, computer labs, and lockers/cubbies are permitted. When different class cohorts interact in shared spaces, masking and as much distancing as possible is to be maintained between class cohorts.
CAFETERIA USE, LUNCH PROGRAMS AND FOOD PROGRAMS
Students may eat together outdoors, without distancing, however, when indoors, a minimum distance of two metres must be maintained between cohorts and as much distancing as possible within a class cohort. Secondary school cafeteria services will be open, and students will be permitted to eat in this space, based on school scheduling to meet guidelines. Nutrition/third party food programs and non-instructional food events (ie. pizza day) are permitted to operate, and food handlers must use adequate food handling and safety practices.
School assemblies or other student/school gatherings are permitted, as per the relevant provincial guidelines under the “Reopening Ontario Act.” This can include multiple class cohorts (in alignment with provincial capacity limits) and includes allowance for in-school student to student and peer support programs (ie. reading buddies).
We will continue to limit visitors to schools to reduce exposure and disruptions. Any visitor to the school must self-screen and wear a medical mask while on school premises.
Visitors are required to confirm their self-screening upon arrival and to log in and out for tracking purposes. We sincerely thank you for your past cooperation and understanding moving forward. Aside from scheduled appointments, parents/guardians will only be able to enter the school in the case of an emergency.
SCHOOL BUS TRANSPORTATION
School vehicles can operate at full capacity. The seat directly behind the bus driver will remain empty to maintain distancing, but distancing may not be applicable to other vehicle types such as vans or cars. Non-medical masks are
required for students in grades 1-12 (students in Kindergarten students are encouraged to wear a mask) and assigned seating will remain in place to assist with contact tracing. Enhanced cleaning practices will continue.
Please note the following subject-specific and program information:
Music – Music programs are permitted in areas with adequate ventilation. Wind instruments are permitted indoors within a class cohort, provided a distance of 2 metres or more can be maintained or as much distance as possible in large, well-ventilated spaces. Wind instruments are also permitted outdoors in mixed cohorts, with distancing. Singing is permitted indoors and masks are encouraged, but not required if a minimum distance of two metres can be maintained between class cohorts and as much distancing as possible within a class cohort.
Health and Physical Education and Sports – Based on advice from the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, extra-curricular and inter-school sport activities will be permitted, province-wide, with some modifications. In elementary and secondary health and physical education classes, the use of gyms, swimming pools, change rooms, weight rooms, indoor physical education equipment and shared outdoor equipment are permitted with distancing. Sport-specific expectations (ie. football, volleyball, hockey) will be provided to participants prior to the start of each season.
Cooperative Education – For students enrolled in cooperative education courses, in-person community placements can be arranged in alignment with the relevant provincial requirements under the “Reopening Ontario Act,” as well as per the direction and recommendations of the school board and
REQUIREMENTS IN SPECIFIC PROGRAMS
local health unit to maintain the safety and curriculum requirements. Virtual placements may be arranged if in-person placements are not possible.
Field Trips – Day trips and overnight stays are permitted provided they follow the relevant provincial requirements under the “Reopening Ontario Act” and are at the discretion of the Board. We are anticipating further guidance in this area and are consulting with our health units.
EQAO Testing – For the 2021-2022 school year, regular EQAO assessments for grades 3 and 6 will resume in the new digital format for math, reading and writing. Students in Grade 9 math will write the Grade 9 math digital adaptive assessment and the results of the assessment may count to a maximum of 10% of the student’s final mark. EQAO assessments must be done in-person at the school. Students learning remotely may be permitted to attend, at the discretion of the school board, if health and safety measures can be met.
LITERACY AND COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS
The literacy graduation requirement is waived for students graduating in the 2021-2022 school year. The requirement will be restored for the 2022-2023 school year. Students in grades 10 and 11 and non-graduating students (including those who are learning remotely), are required to work towards the literacy graduation requirement through participation in the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT), adjudication or the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course (OSSLC). The community involvement graduation requirement has been reduced from 40 hours to a minimum of 20 hours of community involvement activities for students graduating in the 2021-2022 school year. The 40 hour requirement will be restored in 2022-2023.
BEFORE AND AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS
Before and after school programs, childcare operators and authorized recreation providers can operate, provided they follow the appropriate guidelines and collaborate to ensure student lists and information are maintained and are readily available to be provided to public health for contact tracing purposes.
COMMUNITY USE OF SCHOOLS
Community use of schools continues to be unavailable to minimize the volume of traffic and required cleaning in the schools. We will re-evaluate community use as the year unfolds.
As we are returning to in-person learning, we are excited to have our students back! While parents/guardians can opt-out of in-person learning for September 2021, those considering this mode of learning are asked to carefully review the information/considerations attached here (and available on our website), as the Virtual/Remote Learning Request Form is available via a link in the document. Parents/Guardians opting for this mode, shall remain virtual/remote until January (in elementary) or February (in secondary) and will be required to re-register at these times. All request forms must be completed by 12:00 (noon) on Thursday, August 19th to allow us adequate time to organize.
We will continue with secondary students having 2 classes per day, however we are exploring an alternative schedule to support the transition to semesters in February. Further information will be sent to secondary students/families in the coming weeks.
WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOUR CHILD IN SEPTEMBER!
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