Letters from HCDSB

March Break Postponed until April 12-16, 2021

On February 11, 2021, the Ontario government provided an update on the timing of March Break for the 2020-2021 school year. The announcement indicated that March Break will be postponed until April 12-16, 2021, as a health and safety precaution to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our school communities. 

This means that all HCDSB elementary and secondary instruction will continue as scheduled from March 15 through 19, 2021

Read the Ministry’s News Release here. 

Before and during this week-long break, families are advised to stay home as much as possible, and to continue to follow the direction of our Public Health officials to keep our school communities healthy and safe. 

As always, we will contact parents and guardians directly, should there be any additional updates before the week-long break in April. We will provide new information as it becomes available. 

gligoricjMarch Break Postponed until April 12-16, 2021
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In-Person Learning Resumes at HCDSB Schools on Monday, February 8th

On February 3rd, the Minister of Education announced that in-person learning will resume in schools that fall within 13 additional public health units, including Halton Region. 

This means that all HCDSB elementary and secondary schools will reopen for in-person learning on Monday, February 8, 2021. 

What does this mean for elementary students?

  • All HCDSB Catholic elementary schools will reopen for in-person learning on Monday, February 8th.
  • Students will return to the learning format that was in place prior to the Christmas break. This means, that if your child was attending their home school and learning in-person, they will return to that format. If your child was enrolled in the Virtual Elementary School before Christmas, they will remain in the Virtual School. 

Transition in Learning Formats

At the end of November 2020, parents were invited to request a change in learning format for their children. The changes were originally scheduled to take effect on January 11th, however were delayed due to the closure of our schools and the move to teacher-led remote learning. 

For students where a change in learning format was requested, the transition to the new format will now take place on Tuesday, February 16th

This will offer a coordinated transition to ensure that student transportation is in place for all eligible students, and provide teachers with an opportunity to complete Term 1 assessments (report cards) for their current students. 

Before and After School Program

  • All Before and After School Programs will reopen on Monday, February 8th.  
  • Child care centres will remain open.

What does this mean for secondary students?

  • All HCDSB Catholic secondary schools will reopen for in-person learning on Monday, February 8th, following the same hybrid learning model that has been in place throughout the school year. 
  • Students will remain in the same cohort (A, B, or C) and follow their cohort schedule.  
  • Quadmester 3 will begin on Monday, February 8th, with Cohort A at school on Monday, while students in Cohort B and C will be learning online from home.

Enhanced Health & Safety Protocols

As we prepare for a safe and healthy return to in-person learning, students and families are reminded to review the Health and Safety Protocols available on our website.

In addition to the protocols that have been in place all year, the Ministry of Education has also implemented additional health and safety measures.  

Monitor for Symptoms – for Elementary Students

Parents are asked to continue monitoring their children for symptoms of COVID-19 and complete the Ontario School Screening Tool for each child each morning, before the start of school:  https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/.

Confirmation of Screening – for Secondary Students

Effective Monday, February 8th, secondary students attending in-person learning will need to provide confirmation that they have completed the self-screening and received a ‘pass’ to attend school. Any student who does not pass the School Screening Tool must stay home and self-isolate until they meet the criteria for return. 

  • A daily reminder sent to students each morning from the school.  The reminder will include a link to the Ontario School Screening Tool.  
  • Students will be required to show their classroom teacher the “pass” confirmation on their personal device (e.g., phone, laptop) as they enter the classroom, or show a printed copy of the “pass” confirmation.  
  • Students who require the use of a school device to complete the screening are asked to report to the office or area designated by the school Principal prior to going to class to complete their daily screening. 
  • Parents and guardians of students requiring assistance, including students with special education needs, are asked to contact their child’s teacher to make arrangements for alternate ways to confirm that they have completed the Ontario School Screening and received a pass to attend school.  This may include setting up an electronic practice, verbal communication, or the provision of paper copies of the screening tool that can be sent with the student in the morning. 
  • No student data (e.g., screenshot, pdf, paper confirmation, etc.) will be retained by the school.

Masking

All HCDSB students must wear a mask at all times when at school. Up until the Christmas break, student were required to wear masks indoors only. The Ministry now requires that masks be worn outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

As we cannot ensure physical distancing is being maintained while students are outside during recess or on school grounds, effective Monday, February 8th, all students will now be required to wear their masks when outside at recess and outside after lunch. Your child’s school will ensure that mask breaks are provided throughout the day. 

You may want to consider sending your child to school with multiple masks so that masks can be replaced when they become wet during outdoor use. You are encouraged to read this tip sheet created by Halton Region Public Health on the Use of Non-Medical Masks or Face Coverings in Schools.

Congregating

To help minimize the spread of COVID-19, we have received Ministry direction to continue to follow physical distancing measures both inside our schools and in outside areas. School staff will be monitoring to ensure that students are not gathering in groups before school starts and after school. Parents are encouraged to review with their families the need to follow physical distancing guidelines and to remind older children to refrain from congregating in groups before and after school

As a reminder, parents are also asked not to gather during drop off and pick up times, and to refrain from carpooling if physical distancing and the use of PPE (masks) cannot be maintained.

Targeted Asymptomatic Testing 

The Ontario government has indicated that it will offer targeted asymptomatic testing for school communities that receive higher rates of positive COVID-19 cases. This testing would be offered on a voluntary basis. Halton Region Public Health is currently developing a plan for Halton schools and details will be shared at a later date.   

Student Transportation

Halton Student Transportation Services (HSTS) will resume for eligible students on Monday, February 8, 2021. Students who ride the bus must be wearing masks, and for contact tracing purposes, students must adhere to their bus seating plans.

Technology & Devices

Elementary school principals will provide further information about the return of any borrowed devices.

Mental Health Supports

The shift from remote to in-person learning can be a very stressful time for many families. Parents are welcome to visit our website for Mental Health & Well-Being resources and support. School Mental Health Ontario also has a number of excellent resources to help our HCDSB community navigate through this difficult period: www.smho-smso.ca.

We look forward to welcoming our students and staff safely back to school for in-person learning on Monday, February 8th! 

Amanda BartucciIn-Person Learning Resumes at HCDSB Schools on Monday, February 8th
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Remote Learning Continues Until Further Notice

Earlier today, the Ontario government provided an update on the period of school closures and teacher-led remote learning. The announcement indicated that in-person learning will resume next week in schools that fall within 4 additional public health units. 

Halton Region was NOT on this list, and therefore HCDSB schools will remain closed for in-person learning until further notice.

The Ministry of Education has not provided a date when our Halton schools are expected to reopen for full in-person instruction.  Read the Ministry’s News Release.

What Does This Mean?

  • Elementary and secondary students will continue to learn remotely until further notice
  • Students enrolled in the Virtual Elementary School will continue to follow their established schedules. 
  • The change in learning format between in-person and virtual instruction will be delayed until schools re-open for in-person learning.
  • Students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated through remote learning will continue to receive in-person support during the extended remote learning period.
  • Child care centres will remain OPEN for the duration of these time-limited public health actions.  
  • All Before and After School Programs will remain CLOSED until in-person learning resumes.

Our Catholic Faith & Well-Being Resources 

Now more than ever, the mental health and well-being of our students, families and staff is a top priority. Should you feel that your family could benefit from further support, we invite you to explore the community resources below:

Amanda BartucciRemote Learning Continues Until Further Notice
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Remote Learning Extended for HCDSB Schools

On January 20, 2021, Ontario school boards received a memo from the Minister of Education that provided an update on the period of school closure and teacher-led remote learning.  The memo indicated that in-person learning will resume next week in schools that fall within 1 of 7 public health units listed in the memo. 

Halton Region was not on this list, and therefore HCDSB schools will remain closed for in-person learning until further notice.  

The Ministry has not provided a date when our Halton schools are expected to reopen for full in-person instruction.  

What We Know at This Time:

  • Elementary and secondary students will continue to learn remotely until further notice
  • Students enrolled in the Virtual Elementary School will continue to follow their established schedules. 
  • The change in learning format between in-person and virtual instruction will be delayed until schools re-open for in-person learning.
  • Students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated through remote learning will continue to receive in-person support during the extended remote learning period.
  • Child care centres will remain OPEN for the duration of these time-limited public health actions.  
  • All Before and After School Programs will remain CLOSED until in-person learning resumes.

We recognize that another extension of remote learning, and especially not having a sense of timelines, will create additional challenges and burdens on families and staff. Unfortunately, this is all the information we have to share at this time. If we receive any additional details, we will share them with all HCDSB families and staff. 

Updates 

We will continue to share any new updates from the Ministry as they become available, in the following ways:

Resources & Supports 

This period of remote learning is hard on students, families and staff.  The following are a list of resources and supports that families may access during this difficult time.

Financial Support for Parents

The Ontario government has made financial support available for families during this remote learning period through the Support for Learners program. An expanded Support for Learners program is providing $200 for each child or youth up to Grade 12 and $250 for each child or youth up to age 21 with special needs. Applications will be open until February 8, 2021: Apply for Support for Learners Funding Here

Faith & Well-Being Resources

We are grateful for the ongoing understanding and support of students, families and staff as we work with the Ministry of Education and our Public Health officials to keep our school communities healthy and safe.

gligoricjRemote Learning Extended for HCDSB Schools
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REMINDER: All Schools Moving to Remote Learning on January 4th

On December 21, 2020, the provincial government directed all school boards to move to teacher-led remote learning on January 4, 2021

Elementary Schools

  • Our elementary schools will be closed for in-person learning between January 4-8, 2021. 
  • Beginning Monday, January 4th and ending on Friday, January 8th , all elementary students will learn remotely from home.

On Monday, January 4th, the day will begin with asynchronous learning for students in our elementary schools

  • Teachers will post asynchronous learning activities on their Learning Management System for the start of the morning session.
  • Synchronous (real-time) instruction will commence at the end of your child’s regularly scheduled lunch period.
  • On Tuesday, January 5, and for the remainder of the week, synchronous and asynchronous learning will commence at the regular school start time.
  • In-school instruction for elementary school students will resume on Monday, January 11, 2021.

Secondary Schools

  • Our secondary schools will be closed for in-person learning between January 4-22 2021.
  • Beginning Monday, January 4th and until Friday, January 22nd students will follow their regular Quadmester 2 schedule, but all cohorts (A, B, and C) will learn remotely from home. 
  • In-school instruction for secondary school students will resume on Monday, January 25, 2021.

Virtual Elementary School

  • Students enrolled in the Virtual Elementary School will continue to follow their established schedules. 
  • The change in learning format between in-person and virtual instruction is still scheduled to take place as planned on Monday, January 11, 2021.

Expectations Around Remote Learning

We knew at the start of the school year that we may need to pivot to remote learning at some point. Our teachers are prepared to deliver instruction via online learning platforms, and throughout this period of remote learning students will be provided with 300 minutes of daily learning opportunities, which includes a combination of synchronous (real-time) instruction and asynchronous learning activities. 

As noted in the Ministry memo to school boards, teacher-led remote learning during this period will be provided for all students in accordance with PPM 164: Requirements for Remote Learning. 

Here are the minimum requirements for synchronous learning: 

Division Grade Level of Students Daily Minimum Synchronous Learning Time Requirement* 
Elementary  Kindergarten  180 minutes 
  Grades 1 to 3 225 minutes 
  Grades 4 to 8  225 minutes  
Secondary  Grades 9 to 12  225 minute

Synchronous learning will be provided for large and small groups of students each day, in a manner similar to in-person classroom teaching. Synchronous learning time may include students working independently and in small groups while engaged in a virtual classroom with the teacher overseeing their learning and available for questions.

Resources for Parents and Families

The following links and documents provide some guidelines for parents and students to help ensure safe and effective live online learning:

Distribution of Devices for Elementary Students 

For those families who have requested the loan of a device to support student learning during the period of remote learning, distribution of devices will take place beginning on Monday, January 4, 2021. Your school will be contacting you directly with further instructions.    

Special Education

  • To support remote learning for all special education students, school staff (Teachers, Educational Assistants, etc.) as well as board professionals (e.g. Speech and Language Pathologists) will continue to provide ongoing support and services virtually. 
  • For students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated through remote learning, we will provide in-person support during the remote learning period commencing January 4, 2021.
  • Parents with children in the Community Living Class, Structured Teaching Class, Essential Skills Class and Life Skills Class have been contacted directly and asked to share their intentions for the remote learning period.
  • Most students with special education needs will be learning remotely during this period. In-person learning should be reserved for those students with special education needs, who cannot be accommodated through remote learning. 
  • If your child is not in one of the specialized classes noted above but has special education needs that cannot be accommodated through remote learning, please contact your School Principal. 

Child Care 

  • Child care centres will remain OPEN for the duration of the remote learning period.  
  • All Before and After School Programs will be CLOSED during the week of January 4-8, 2021, when elementary schools are closed to in-person learning.

Faith and Well-Being Supports

School Mental Health Ontario has posted a number of excellent resources to help students, families and staff navigate through this difficult period: www.smho-smso.ca.

As a Catholic faith community, we understand the importance of finding time for prayer and reflection – most especially during times of stress and uncertainty. We have posted a number of faith resources on our Return to School website at: https://learnathome.hcdsb.org/faith-well-being/

Thank you for your ongoing patience, understanding and support as we all adjust to the current requirements.

Translations

gligoricjREMINDER: All Schools Moving to Remote Learning on January 4th
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New Changes to the COVID-19 School Screening Tool for Children

Earlier today (October 1, 2020), the Ontario government released changes to the COVID-19 School Screening Tool used to monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 in children.

The guidelines continue to evolve as we learn more about COVID-19, how it spreads, and how it affects children and adults in different ways.

The updated screening tool offers a more comprehensive checklist of the type and number of symptoms needed for a child to stay home for a period of time and seek medical advice.

Please note that the COVID-19 School Screening Tool is not to be used as a clinical assessment or intended to take the place of medical advice; a diagnosis or treatment.

The online COVID-19 Screening Tool will be updated soon to include these new revisions

In the meantime, you are asked to keep screening your children for COVID-19 each day using the updated guidelines in the link below:

October 1st Update – COVID-19 Screening Tool for Children

Letter to Parents

gligoricjNew Changes to the COVID-19 School Screening Tool for Children
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Change to Learning Environment – REQUEST FORM

As indicated in previous correspondence, the opportunity to switch between learning environments will be offered at three points throughout this year: after Thanksgiving, after Christmas, and after March Break.

Request to Change Learning Environment  

If you wish to change your child’s learning environment by switching from remote learning to in-class instruction, or vice versa, you are asked to complete an online request form.

Important notes before you complete the online form:

  • You are asked to submit a separate form for each child.
  • You will need your child’s Ontario Education Number (OEN) to submit this request. The OEN can be found on a recent report card.
  • This online request form applies to elementary students ONLY. Requests for changes in the learning environment at the secondary school level should be sent to directly to your child’s secondary school Principal.
  • This form does not apply to homeschooling. If your child is currently being homeschooled and you would like to request a change to either in-class instruction or remote learning, please contact your Family of Schools Superintendent.

NOTE: Please do not complete this form unless you want to change your child’s current learning environment – i.e. your child is currently attending in-class instruction and you want to switch to remote (online) learning in a virtual classroom.

CLICK HERE to access the online form to request a change to your child’s learning environment.

The online form will remain open until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, October 1, 2020.

Next Steps 

Once the online form has closed, our staff will begin to work through the rescheduling process.

  • Parents and guardians will receive confirmation of the changes to their children’s learning environment during the week of October 13th.
  • The changes will come into effect during the week of October 19, 2020.

Additional Information  

  • CLICK HERE to learn more about in-class instruction in our HCDSB elementary schools.
  • CLICK HERE to learn more about remote learning in our HCDSB Virtual Elementary School.

Letter to Parents

gligoricjChange to Learning Environment – REQUEST FORM
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Changes to COVID-19 Symptom Protocol

New COVID-19 School Screening Tool

On Thursday, September 17, 2020, the Ontario government released to school boards an online screening tool available for families, school staff and essential visitors to meet their obligation to screen themselves or their children for symptoms of illness each day before going to school. School boards and local health units have been asked to align the criteria in their screening tools with this new screening tool for schools. 

The COVID-19 School Screening tool has been posted on our Return to School (RTS) website under Daily Screening, and is accessible here: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/

Parents or guardians (and students 18 years of age or older) must complete this new COVID-19 School Screening tool before leaving for school each day. Please use this screening tool moving forward, as the one that was provided at the start of the school year is no longer applicable.

Based on the new criteria in the school screening tool, the following changes to our previous screening protocol will now apply:   

  • Household members and close contacts of a symptomatic individual are no longer required to self-isolate unless they have symptoms. This means that unless otherwise directed by Public Health or a health care provider, siblings are not required to stay home or miss school while awaiting test results for the symptomatic student.  
  • However, if a household member (including siblings) has COVID-19 symptoms, they are required to self-isolate while awaiting test results.
  • In cases where an individual tests positive for COVID-19, all close contacts and household members (including siblings) will be required to self-isolate and will require clearance from Halton Public Health before returning to school. 

COVID-19 Advisory Board

We have posted a COVID-19 Advisory Board on our Return to School site that provides the number of active confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in connection to HCDSB schools. Please note that this chart will track any active confirmed positive COVID-19 cases connected to one of our school communities, but it does not necessarily mean the individual was exposed in our school. 

Letter to Parents

gligoricjChanges to COVID-19 Symptom Protocol
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Updates for Parents of Elementary Students

Gradual Return to School for Students Enrolled in In-Class Instruction

Our first day of gradual return to school for our elementary students enrolled in in-class instruction went very smoothly across our district. Today, students in Grades 1-8 with surnames beginning with the letters A-F came to school and spent the day reviewing the health and safety protocols that will be in place in our schools to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

  • Tomorrow (September 10th), only students with surnames beginning with the letters G-N will attend their school. 
  • On Friday (September 11th), only students with surnames beginning with the letters O-Z will attend their school.
  • Starting Monday, September 14th ALL students enrolled in in-class instruction will begin attending school. 

A reminder that students registered for remote instruction do not attend school on the gradual return days (September 9-11). 

Update for Students Enrolled in Remote Instruction 

Some of our families have opted to keep their children home to participate in remote (online) learning.  Remote learners will be part of a virtual classroom, in a virtual school.  Online classes are currently being finalized. Over the next couple of days, parents with students in virtual classrooms will be receiving direct communication with details about their children’s virtual classroom, including the name of the teacher, and a link to the online learning platform.  

The first day of instruction for students learning from home in our virtual classrooms will be Monday, September 14th.  

Switching Between Remote Instruction and In-Class Instruction 
Families will have the opportunity to switch between in-school instruction and remote learning at three identified points in the year:

  • After Thanksgiving
  • After Christmas
  • After March Break

The application process to switch from in-school instruction to remote learning (and vice versa) will be available as of September 21, 2020. 

New Student Registrations 

As our in-school class lists are now finalized, any students new to a school or new to HCDSB who are registered after September 8, 2020, will be placed in a virtual classroom.   As noted above, the next opportunity to transfer from remote (virtual) instruction to in-class instruction will be after Thanksgiving – Monday, October 12, 2020. 

Updates and Information 

We will continue to share information and updates with parents directly through email. Updates will also be posted on the Return to School Plan website and through the Board’s social media channels: 

Letter to Parents

gligoricjUpdates for Parents of Elementary Students
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