Return to School Updates

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

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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

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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

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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

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Return to School Updates

Delayed Start of School Bus Transportation 

Halton Student Transportation Services (HSTS) has been working closely with our school board as well as the Halton District School Board to collate and coordinate the information received from parents, confirming which students will be returning back to school for in-class instruction, and how many of those students will require transportation. Due to the changes in the school schedules, as well as the enhanced health and safety protocols that will have to be in place on school buses, HSTS will require some additional time to finalize the transportation arrangements. In light of this, the start of school bus routes will be delayed this year. 

School bus transportation to and from school will be available as follows: 

  • For elementary students in the self-containedCommunity Living, Essential Skills, and Structured Teaching special education classes, and secondary students in our Life Skills classes, transportation to and from school will be available beginning Friday, September 11, 2020.
  • For all other students (Kindergarten to Grade 12), school bus transportation to and from school will be available beginning Monday, September 14, 2020.

Please note that our schools will be open to students, as we communicated last week.  We appreciate that many families rely on school buses to get their children to and from school, and we are hopeful that you will be able to make alternative arrangements for next week. 

Once transportation arrangements have been finalized, HSTS will be sending an email to parents so that they may confirm the confirm the route number, pick-time and location through the parent portal.   

Board Motion to Lower Elementary Class Sizes

At the Regular Board Meeting held last night (September 1, 2020), Trustees passed a motion authorizing the use of Ministry funding and Board reserves (savings) to lower class sizes in our elementary schools. This will help us ensure as much physical distancing as possible in our Kindergarten to Grade 8 classes, by reducing the class-size average to approximately 22 students, with a maximum of 25 students per class. 

Class Lists for In-School Instruction

Our elementary school principals are currently finalizing class lists, and while we are hoping the lists will be available on Friday, September 4th, the release may be delayed until the weekend. Parents will receive an email directly from the School Principal once the class lists are available. 

Please note that due to the timing and complexity of the process this year, schools will not be able to accommodate requests for changes to class lists. 

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Start of School Delay & Gradual Return to School – Letter from HCDSB

gligoricjStart of School Delay & Gradual Return to School – Letter from HCDSB
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Start of School Delay and Gradual Return to School

The first day of instruction for students (originally planned for Tuesday, September 8, 2020) has been delayed until Wednesday, September 9, 2020.

  • Instruction will begin for Grades 9-12 secondary students on Wednesday, September 9th. 
  • All students in Grades 1-8 attending in-class instruction will begin attending school every day, beginning Monday, September 14th. Remote learning will begin for students learning from home on Monday, September 14th.  

The first day back to school, even under ‘normal’ circumstances, can be very stressful for students, families and staff. We recognize that this year, these feelings may be heightened given our current circumstances and the new health and safety protocols that will be in place as our schools re-open. 

Delaying the first day of school by one day will allow staff to rehearse the new health and safety protocols, and adapt their practices to ensure an organized transition for students. It will also facilitate the set-up of the learning management systems and resources for remote learning. 

A gradual return to school for our elementary students will help alleviate some of the anxiety in students by providing a calm environment to help students learn the new health and safety routines at school and practice our entry and dismissal procedures in smaller groups. 


What Does this Mean for Elementary Students?

At the elementary level, we will be easing into the new school year by bringing Grade 1-8 students back to school in smaller groups on September 9, 10 and 11th.  All Grade 1-8 students will be in school beginning Monday, September 14th

The following schedule will apply to Grade 1-8 students in all elementary schools: 

DateSchedule
Wednesday, September 9thOnly students in Grades 1-8 with surnames beginning with the letters A-F will come to school
Thursday, September 10thOnly students in Grades 1-8 with surnames beginning with the letters G- N will come to school
Friday, September 11thOnly students in Grades 1-8 with surnames beginning with the letters O-Z will come to school
Monday, September 14thALL students in Grades 1-8 attending in-class instruction will come to school. Remote learning will begin for students learning from home.

Kindergarten

As per our usual practice, we will implement a staggered entry for Kindergarten students. Year 1 and 2 orientation will take place on Tuesday, September 8th, and Wednesday, September 9th. Year 2 students will begin on Thursday, September 10th. Year 1 staggered entry will take place on Friday, September 11th, and Monday, September 14thAll Kindergarten students in school beginning Tuesday, September 15th

Special Education

Students in the self-contained Community Living, Essential Skills, and Structured Teaching special education classes in our elementary schools will begin in-class instruction on Wednesday, September 9 and attend school daily thereafter. 

At the elementary level, students with special education needs who are not in self-contained classes will attend school on the designated alpha day with their peers. If the student would benefit from daily attendance, and/or further time to support transitions, they may attend on additional days in consultation with their school.


What Does this Mean for Secondary Students?

At the secondary school level, the first day of school will be delayed by one day for all students, except for students in the Life Skills classes, who will begin in-class instruction at school on Tuesday, September 8 and attend school daily thereafter.

As secondary students will be returning to an adapted instructional model, in cohorts of 15 or less, a gradual return will already be in place. Secondary schools will start in their Week 1 schedule, with the first day of instruction taking place on Wednesday, September 9, 2020.

Delaying the first day of school by one day will allow staff in our secondary schools to rehearse the new health and safety protocols, and adapt their practices to ensure an organized transition for students. It will also facilitate the set-up of the learning management systems and resources for remote learning. 

Creative Design OfficerStart of School Delay and Gradual Return to School
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Ontario Releases COVID-19 Management Plan for Schools

On Wednesday, August 26, 2020, the Ontario government released the Operational Guidance: COVID-19 Management in Schools document. This guide was developed in consultation with public health experts, including Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, and is intended to support schools in identifying and isolating COVID-19 cases, help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools, and prevent and minimize outbreaks. This guidance document is available online at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/operational-guidance-covid-19-management-schools

For more information, read the August 26th Letter from Minister Lecce.

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