NCDSB - Return to School Updates

RETURN TO SCHOOL UPDATES

Return to School Updates
Posted on 09/01/2020

OUR GUIDING PRINCIPLES AS WE PREPARE TO RE-OPEN SCHOOLS

  • To provide a safe and healthy school environment for students, staff, and safeguarding the broader communities in which they live;
  • To provide a consistently high-quality Catholic education for every student of the NCDSB;
  • To address potential gaps in student learning, mental health and well-being;
  • To ensure equity of access for students, staff, and families;
  • To be adaptable, flexible, and open to working together to improve outcomes for all.

RE-OPENING OF SCHOOLS 

Elementary (Kindergarten to Grade 8): Elementary schools will re-open in September with conventional in-person delivery of teaching and instruction, with enhanced health and safety protocols. Elementary students will attend school five days per week, remaining in one cohort for the full day, including recess and lunch. Cohorted classes will stay together as much as possible with one teacher 

Secondary (Grade 9 – 12): O’Gorman High School will be re-opening in September with a conventional, in-person, five days per week schedule with enhanced health and safety protocols. The high school will be adopting a timetabling method that emphasizes cohorting of students as much as possible to limit the number of student-to-student contacts.

THE OPTION OF REMOTE LEARNING

Families have made the decision to send their child back to school or to enroll their child in a virtual learning program. For those families who have opted into the virtual program, there will be designated times throughout the school year for a child to return to the classroom setting. The same is true for students in a conventional classroom who wish to opt into the virtual program. The transition dates are as follows:

Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Monday, November 9, 2020
Monday, February 1, 2021
Monday, March 22, 2021

All requests must be made to the respective School Principals at least one week in advance of these designated dates. This is necessary to ensure that the schools can adequately and properly adjust classroom structures and cohort groupings.

 Self Screening Icon

Self-screening: All staff and students must self-screen every day before attending school. A daily screening tool will be provided to all families.
 Handwashing Icon

Hand Hygiene: Appropriate hand hygiene is one of the most important protective strategies. NCDSB Catholic schools will be prepared to train students on appropriate hand hygiene, including the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer. We are currently installing additional hand hygiene stations and enhancing the cleaning of school sites. We will be following all recommendations regarding enhanced health, safety and hygiene practices.  
 Cleaning and disinfecting icon

Cleaning and Disinfecting: Heightened cleaning practices will be in place in all schools and offices. Schools will have custodial staff in the building and available to support frequent cleaning and sanitization throughout the school day.  
 Masks Icon

Masks: Students in Grades 4 – 12 will be required to wear non-medical or cloth masks indoors in schools, including hallways and during classes. Students will be able to remove masks when outdoors within their cohorts, providing that physical distancing requirements can be maintained. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be encouraged, but not required, to wear masks in indoor spaces. Prior to the start of school, students are encouraged to practice wearing masks and learn what type of mask is most comfortable for them. Students may wear their own non-medical masks, and non-medical masks will also be made available for students who don’t come to school with their own mask. Medical masks and eye protection will be provided for all teachers and other staff of school boards. School-based staff who are regularly in close contact with students will be provided with all appropriate personal protective equipment. Reasonable exceptions on the requirement to wear masks will apply.
 Shared Spaces Icon

Shared Spaces: Shared spaces like gymnasiums and cafeterias would remain open to students. Shared items would be sanitized before being used again.  
 Cohorting Icon Cohorting: Schools will be implementing a cohorting strategy to keep students together in groups throughout the school day, with limited exposure to multiple teachers or a wide variety of classmates. Elementary students will be cohorted with their classmates and homeroom teacher, with limited contact with other subject teachers or classes. O’Gorman High School will be adopting a timetabling method that emphasizes the cohorting of students as much as possible. We have a requirement to ensure a maximum of 50 indirect/direct contacts at the elementary level, and 100 indirect/direct contacts at the secondary level.  
 Physical Distancing Icon

Physical Distancing: As much as possible, physical distancing between students and staff and between staff members is expected. 
 Limit Visitors Icon Visitors: In the 2020 – 2021 school year, schools will be significantly limiting visitors, including parents and guardians. Only essential visitors will be allowed to enter the school and may only do so by making a pre-arranged appointment.
 School Bus Transportation Icon School Bus Transportation: Enhanced cleaning and use of personal protective equipment will be in place. Students will have assigned seats on the school bus, and siblings will be expected to share a seat as much as possible. Active forms of transportation (for example, walking and cycling) and private transportation by parents and guardians are encouraged where possible to ease pressure on transportation. All students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 must wear a face mask while travelling on a school bus.

LITTERLESS LUNCH PROGRAM

To reduce waste and to maintain safety, students and staff will not dispose of any of their lunch items at school. This means that all wrappers, packages, and uneaten food will return home in student lunch kits each day. This will help to free up time for our custodial staff to focus on cleaning high touch surfaces to promote a safe and healthy school environment.

COVID-19 MANAGEMENT IN SCHOOLS

The Ministry of Education has released an operational guidance document for COVID-19 management in schools. The document provides insight into the strategies that will be implemented for a confirmed COVID-19 case in the school. You can view the full document here: Operational guidance: COVID-19 management in schools. There is excellent information available to help all of us better understand the processes that will be used to support the safe reopening of schools.

Every school will have a designated isolation room that will be used as a safe place for sick or symptomatic students to stay until an adult can pick up the student from school. It is critical that parents/guardians can be reached during the school day and that arrangements can be made in these instances for the child be picked up and brought home. There are specific protocols and expectations for staff and parents/guardians to follow in all such situations.

MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORTS

We understand the news of a return to school may cause some students to experience stress and anxiety as they prepare to transition back to school. Additional resources are available to our students and their families on our board website: https://www.ncdsb.on.ca/mental-health-resources.php

MORE INFORMATION

Our school based staff will be reaching out to our families in advance of the first day of school for students. This will be an opportunity for staff to share important information about staggered entry to school, to answer any questions that you may have, and just take a step forward in building important home/school relationships. We will review our plan and strategies every day and make the necessary adjustments to ensure that we are taking every reasonable precaution to protect the health and safety of our students and staff. We will continue to update our parents and guardians via email, blackboard connect messages and post information to our website and social media platforms.

The entire NCDSB community is excited to welcome our students back to school. We have missed seeing our schools filled with the joy of learning and the deep curiosity that our students bring into our classrooms and playgrounds. These past few months have been challenging for all of us, and we look ahead to the new school year with hope and optimism. We are ready and eager to continue our journey in Catholic Education, as we live out our vision of being faithful and thoughtful learners, working together to transform the world.

Tricia Stefanic Weltz,
Director of Education



@ Northeastern Catholic District School Board