Frequently Asked Questions

Please note that this FAQ is a working resource. We will continue to update this document as we receive more information.

Topics

Delivery
Models

Health &
Safety

Cleaning
Protocols

The School
Day

Optional Remote
Learning

Transportation
.

Community Use
of Schools

What are the Delivery Models?

Remote Delivery

In the Remote Delivery model, instruction is delivered through remote (virtual) learning. 

Key Components of Remote Instructional Delivery: 

  • Instruction takes place outside of the conventional classroom setting.  
  • Students participating in remote learning will receive a daily schedule/timetable that includes 300 minutes of learning opportunities, with a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning activities.   
  • The programming provided through remote learning will be based on the full Ontario curriculum, and include opportunities for guided instruction, large and small group learning, synchronous check-ins, and asynchronous independent work.  

Definitions of “Remote”, “Synchronous”, and “Asynchronous” Learning 

According to the Ministry of Education, “remote learning”, “synchronous learning”, and “asynchronous learning” are defined as follows: 

Remote learning:  Learning that occurs when classes are taught at a distance and when students and educators are not in a conventional classroom setting. Remote learning takes place in times of extended interruption to in-person learning – for example, as a result of a pandemic or natural disaster. Classes can be synchronous or asynchronous and can be taught online through a Learning Management System (LMS) or by using videoconferencing tools. In some cases, they may be delivered through emails, print materials, broadcast media, or telephone calls.  

Synchronous learning:  Learning that happens in real time. Synchronous learning involves using text, video, or voice communication in a way that enables educators and other members of the school- or board-based team to instruct and connect with students in real time. Synchronous learning supports the well-being and academic achievement of all students, including students with special education needs, by providing educators and students with an interactive and engaging way to learn. It helps teachers provide immediate feedback to students and enables students to interact with one another. 

Asynchronous learning:  Learning that is not delivered in real time. Asynchronous learning may involve students watching pre-recorded video lessons, completing assigned tasks, or contributing to online discussion boards. 


Conventional Delivery

In the Conventional Delivery Model, schools will re-open and students will return to school every day, with class sizes that reflect current guidelines, and enhanced health and safety protocols put in place.

Key Components of Conventional Delivery:

  • Developing procedures that support general physical distancing, such as spreading students into different areas; using visual cues such as tape on the floor, corridors, bathrooms and outside areas; scheduling recess in small groups and holding physical education or other classes outdoors.
  • Developing guidance for lunches and lunch room or cafeteria areas, as well as other shared areas of schools, such as libraries and gyms.
  • Using signage/marking to direct students through the steps for entry and exit of the school building.
  • Minimizing the number of personal belongings (e.g., backpack, clothing, sunscreen, etc.) brought to school and asking that any belongings that are brought to school be labeled and kept in the student’s designated area.
  • Offering remote/distance instruction for students where families have opted out of sending their children to school at this time.

Adapted Delivery

In the Adapted Delivery model, schools will re-open under adapted conditions to promote distancing and/or cohorting.

Key Components of Adapted Instructional Delivery:

  • Maintaining a limit of 15 students in a classroom at one time.
  • Adopting timetables to allow, as much as possible, for students to remain in contact with only their classmates (cohort) and a single teacher.
  • Alternate day or week delivery to segment of the class into smaller student cohorts (groups).
  • An adapted timetable model that will support smaller student cohorts (groups).
  • An adapted delivery of subjects such as French, art, music, and physical education in order to limit the rotation of teachers.

Health & Safety

What are the enhanced health protocols being put in place for the return to school?

 Although we cannot eliminate the exposure to COVID-19, HCDSB is taking every precaution reasonable for the protection of students and staff by following the recommendations of Halton Region Public Health and preventing exposure.

According the public health officials, the following are the main ways we can prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Daily self- assessment for COVID-19 before arriving at work/school
  • Self-isolate when necessary
  • Physical distancing whenever possible from others
  • Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfection
  • Personal protective equipment when appropriate

The following are the measures we will have in place at each of our HCDSB schools to protect students and staff:

Self-Screening of Students and Staff

  • A self-assessment must be completed by all staff and essential visitors prior to entering the school. ​
  • Parents and guardians must perform daily screening of their child(ren) for COVID-19 symptoms before leaving for school, using the COVID-19 Self-Assessment. ​
  • If a student or staff member shows signs or symptoms of COVID-19 or has come into close contact with anyone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, they cannot come to school. They must self-isolate and be tested for COVID-19.  ​

UPDATE: On September 16, 2020, the Ontario Government released a new COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool for Schools.

All staff and parents (or students 18 years of age and up) are asked to complete this new self-assessment tool for schools each day.

Resources:

Parents and guardians must perform daily screening of their child(ren) for COVID-19 symptoms BEFORE leaving for school using the COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool for Schools.

  • Check your child’s temperature to ensure they do not have a fever (temperature greater than 37.8oC)
  • Monitor for signs and symptoms (including atypical symptoms) of COVID-19
  • If any signs or symptoms, student and other household members must stay home, and school must be contacted.

How do I monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 in my child?

Parents and guardians are reminded to monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 in your children and to complete the COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool for Schools each morning before sending your children to school.

What do I do if my child has COVID-19 like symptoms?

When a child is sick with new or worsening COVID-19 like symptoms, parents and guardians must follow one of the following three options:

A. Have your child tested for COVID-19 and keep them home to self-isolate until the test results are revealed; test results will indicate the next steps.

OR

B. If your child has an alternative diagnosis provided by a health care provider, they may return to school once it has been at least 24 hours since their symptoms have started improving.

OR

C. Keep your child home to self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days. They may return to school after the 14-day period once it has been at least 24 hours since their symptoms have started improving.

The following flowchart, developed by Halton Public Health, provides additional information about the symptom protocol process in place in Halton schools.

What if my child has cold or flu-like symptoms?  

Any student or staff with signs/symptoms of COVID-19 should:   

    • Stay at home
    • Seek medical advice, including the recommendation of testing for COVID-19 as appropriate or as advised by their medical provider
    • In some circumstances, special efforts may be needed to facilitate access to COVID-19 testing to meet the needs of some staff or students/families
    • Remain isolated and excluded from school until test results are received (household members must also self- isolate) as per COVID-19 Class Order

UPDATE: As of September 16, 2020, household members and close contacts of a symptomatic individual are no longer required to self-isolate. Siblings of a symptomatic student do not have to be sent home or miss school while awaiting test results for the symptomatic student.

  • If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, Halton Region Public Health will notify the individual, the close contacts and the school.

Parents and guardians are able to access the COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool for Schools HERE. 

Resources:

What if a child shows cold or flu-like symptoms at school? 

Students showing cold or flu-like symptoms at school will be immediately separated from others and supervised in a designated room/space.Their parent/guardian will be contacted to pick them up immediately.

Safe Entry into School

  • Designated entry and exit doors will be established in every school.
  • Physical distancing window stickers/signs will be posted at all common entrances.
  • Students will practice physical distancing as they enter the school.
  • Staggered entry into the school, alternating even and odd grades so there are fewer students in the hallway at a time.
  • Kindergarten students will enter classroom directly upon arrival in the morning.

Keeping the Classroom Safe

  • Students will sanitize their hands when entering the classroom.
  • Students will have designated fixed seating, appropriately spaced.
  • Carpets will be removed from classrooms.
  • No soft furniture that is not easily cleaned will be kept in the classroom.

Washrooms

  • All washrooms will have a hands-free hand dryer or paper towel dispenser.
  • All washrooms with a manual faucet will have a paper tower dispenser.
  • Physical distancing floor decals will be placed at entrances to all student washrooms.

Staying Safe in Outdoor Play Areas

  • Designated ‘zones’ will be set up in the school yard.
  • Students will be allowed to play at recess with peers from their cohorts (groups) only.
  • Staggered entry in and out of school, alternating even and odd grades so there are fewer students in the hallway at a time.
  • Students will wash/sanitize their hands before and after recess.
  • Outdoor kindergarten play areas will be used only one class at a time.
  • The use of the playground will be scheduled and logged.
  • Classroom outdoor equipment (e.g. skipping ropes and balls) must be used by classroom cohorts only and will not be shared between cohorts.
  • Equipment will be cleaned between usage.

Hand Sanitizer/ Handwashing Stations

  • Hand sanitizer wall dispensers will be available by the front door of every school, and at prominent side entrances, and in the main office.
  • Hand sanitizer pump dispensers will be provided in all classrooms without a sink, including portable classrooms.
  • Hand soap will be provided in all classrooms with a sink.
  • All handwashing locations with an automatic faucet will have a hands-free hand dryer or paper towel dispense
  • All handwashing locations with a manual faucet must have a paper tower dispenser.

Physical Distancing

  • Physical distancing will be maintained in both indoor and outdoor learning and play spaces.
  • Staff will practice physical distancing from students and other staff.
  • If physical distancing cannot be maintained, staff are recommended to wear a face covering.

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE): Is protective clothing or equipment designed to protect the wearer’s body from injury or infection. PPE can include gloves, masks, face shields, gowns, safety shoes etc. PPE is not a substitute for other preventative measures such as physical distancing, hand hygiene or COVID-19 testing.
  • At the Special Board Meeting held on August 19, 2020, the Board of Trustees passed a motion that all HCDSB students (K- 12) be required to wear non-medical masks/ face coverings at school. Reasonable exceptions to this requirement will be put in place.We are working with Halton Region Public Health to provide age-appropriate mask education/information for families.
  • Medical masks will be provided for teachers and all other school staff.  Reasonable exceptions to this requirement will be put in place.

Please see Halton Region’s tip sheet for the use of non-medical masks.

Exemptions for Mask Wearing

Reasonable exceptions to mask wearing will be considered.

An exemption may be requested for a student in Grades K-12 for the following reasons:

  • A pre-existing medical condition (e.g. Cystic Fibrosis)
  • A diagnosis or learning profile that would limit a student’s ability to tolerate or safely wear a mask, including whereby a mask would effect essential communication for a person who is hearing impaired
  • A mental health diagnosis
  • Other, as detailed by a healthcare practitioner.

Please contact your home school for an exemption form.


What is a ‘cohort’?

A ‘cohort’ refers to a small group of students that are together throughout the school day, with limited exposure to multiple teachers and classrooms.

Keeping students in cohorts limits contact between students, and aids in contact tracing.


Are masks (PPE) mandatory?

At the Special Board Meeting held on August 19, 2020, the Board of Trustees passed a motion that all HCDSB students (K- 12) be required to wear non-medical masks/ face coverings at school. Reasonable exceptions to this requirement will be put in place.We are working with Halton Region Public Health to provide age-appropriate mask education/information for families.

Medical masks will be provided for teachers and all other school staff.

Exemptions for Mask Wearing

Reasonable exceptions to mask wearing will be considered.

An exemption may be requested for a student in Grades K-12 for the following reasons:

  • A pre-existing medical condition (e.g., asthma)
  • A diagnosis or learning profile that would limit a student’s ability to tolerate or safely wear a mask, including whereby a mask would effect essential communication for a person who is hearing impaired
  • A mental health diagnosis
  • Other, as detailed by a healthcare practitioner.

Please contact your home school for an exemption form.


Will masks be provided to students?

We have been working with the Government’s procurement office to be able to provide masks for each student from Gr. 4 – 12, as well as having additional masks on hand in case of emergencies.  


What qualifies my child from being exempt from wearing a mask?

Reasonable exceptions to mask wearing will be considered.

An exemption may be requested for a student in Grades K-12 for the following reasons:

  • A pre-existing medical condition (e.g. Cystic Fibrosis)
  • A diagnosis or learning profile that would limit a student’s ability to tolerate or safely wear a mask, including whereby a mask would effect essential communication for a person who is hearing impaired
  • A mental health diagnosis
  • Other, as detailed by a healthcare practitioner.

Please contact your home school for an exemption form.


Can my child wear a face shield instead of a mask?

According to Public Health Ontario, face shields alone do not provide protection against COVID-19, and worn alone are not recommended for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face coverings 

Students in Grades K-12 may wear a face shield, as long as they also wear a mask.  


Do our classrooms and portables have proper air quality?

Each of our classrooms, including all portables, use mechanical ventilation systems to provide fresh air to classrooms. However, classroom staff may opt to open windows at their own discretion.


Will plexiglass be installed?

At this time, we are not installing plexiglass in classrooms.


How will HCDSB enforce physical distancing?

HCDSB will ensure physical distancing between and within cohorts (groups) in both indoor and outdoor learning and play spaces when possible. All schools will have plans in place to monitor/enforce physical distancing dependent on the age of the student, location, etc. Some strategies to support physical distancing will include physical and visual cues such as pylons, barriers to support spacing boundaries, and signage in hallways and classrooms.  


Cleaning Protocols

Cleaning and disinfection schedule at schools:

  • All high-touch points* will be disinfected twice daily or when visibly dirty.

*High-touch points include doorknobs, light switches, push plates, panic bars, handrails, elevator buttons, faucet handles, flush handles, stall latches, product dispensers, paper towel dispensers, benches and bottle fillers.

  • Disinfectant wipes and no-touch disinfectant spray will be provided in the classroom for disinfection of high-touch items in the classroom throughout the day using.
  • Staff rooms will be cleaned daily in the evenings. Disinfectant wipes or no-touch disinfectant spray will be provided for intraday disinfection, as required.
  • Gymnasiums will be cleaned daily in the evenings. Disinfectant wipes or no-touch disinfectant spray will be provided for intraday disinfection, as required.
  • School libraries will only be used by staff and will be cleaned daily in the evenings. Disinfectant wipes or no-touch disinfectant spray will be provided for intraday disinfection, as required.
  • Hand hygiene and disinfection station resources will be inspected daily and restocked as needed.

How will students in portable classrooms wash their hands?

We will be providing hand hygiene stations in all of our classrooms across each of our schools. Any classrooms with a sink will have hand soap and water. Any rooms without sinks (including portable classrooms) will be provided with hand sanitizer. We will also be setting up hand sanitizer stations in other areas such as lobbies and offices across the board.


What is the protocol regarding agendas going back and forth from home to school?

We are currently considering how best to manage the student agendas to ensure the health and safety of our students, families and staff. We are considering allowing only students to write in their agendas, and teachers using a stamp to inform parents that they have seen the agenda.

We’ve also discussed staff using different mediums of communication when possible. More information will be shared once a final decision has been made.


Will student lockers be used this school year?

In order to keep students safe, and in consultation with Public Health, we will not be using student lockers this year. 


What is the cleaning protocol for water fountains?

Water fountains will not be used this year and will be disabled.  Students will be using our Bottle Filling Stations and we will review proper protocol on how to fill water bottles without touching the stations.  


The School Day

Will all students be outside at the same time for recess breaks?

We are looking at creating zones in our school yards for different classes to gather and play. Considerations include the type of play, encouraging students to play with peers in their own cohorts (groups) to ensure physical distancing, and encouraging hand washing prior to and following all recess breaks.


Will lunch and nutrition programs continue?

Third party lunch and nutrition programs will continue to operate in a ‘grab and go’ format and with enhanced health and safety protocols. 


Will school cafeteria services continue?

Cafeteria services in secondary schools will be CLOSED in September, and until further notice. 


Will lunch time be reduced?

Lunch time will not be reduced. Elementary students will still have 60 minutes for lunch and recess. At the secondary level, students who attend school will be dismissed at lunch time; they will not be eating at school.


Will students that live in the same household be placed in the same school day schedule?

Students with the same address will be placed in the same cohort (group), meaning that they will attend school on the same days.


What kind of supplies will students be expected/required to bring to school?

Schools will be communicating directly with parents and guardians regarding supplies. 


Will class sizes be reduced?

We will determine if we must reorganize our classes once we have the information from parents on who will be returning and who will choose distance learning. We will be keeping our class sizes in line with the Ministry of Education regulations and our collective agreements.  


When will class placements be communicated to parents?

Schools will require the information received through the Intent to Return to School Survey that parents must complete for each child. This will inform school principals which students will be attending in-school instruction, which they will use to build class lists. 

School Principals will communicate with parents and guardians about the release of class placements.  


Will French programs continue for the 2020-2021 school year?

Yes, all of our FSL programs will be offered for the 2020-2021 school year, including: Core French, Extended French, and French Immersion. 


Will the uniform policy change, or will uniforms be exempt for the 2020-2021 school year?

Our School Uniform policy will be in place for the 2020-2021 school year.  

We understand that this year, more than ever, there may be additional financial constraints on families that could affect their ability to purchase uniforms. Families are encouraged to reach out to their School Principal for support.  


Will co-op placements be virtual or in-person? Will they run for 10 weeks, or the full semester?

We are unsure whether co-op placements will be virtual or in-person as we are awaiting direction from Halton Public Health.

We intend for co-op programs to run the full semester.


Optional Remote Learning

When will parents receive the Intent to Return to School Survey?

The Intent to Return to School Parent Survey is open and will remain open until 11:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 26, 2020.

Intent to Return to School ELEMENTARY Surveyhttp://bit.ly/Intent-to-Return-to-School-ELEM

Intent to Return to School SECONDARY Survey: http://bit.ly/Intent-to-Return-to-School-SEC


Will students be able to switch from remote learning to in-school instruction (and vice versa)?

Yes, students will be able to switch from remote learning to in-school instruction and vice versa.

For elementary students:

Families will have the opportunity to switch between in-school instruction and remote learning at three identified points in the year:

  • Thanksgiving
  • After Christmas
  • After March Break

The process to switch from in-school instruction to remote learning (and vice versa) will be provided in September.

For secondary students:

  • Both secondary models are based on a quadmester structure with students taking two courses each 10-week module. ​
  • Prior to the start of each module, parents (or students over 18) may choose between:
    • An adapted delivery model with 2 smaller cohorts (Cohort A and Cohort B) and a blend of face-to-face and online instruction.
    • 100% remote learning from home (Cohort C)

The process to switch from in-school instruction to remote learning (and vice versa) will be provided in September. 


If I change my mind and decide I want my child to join in-school instruction later in the year, will a spot be guaranteed for my child?

If students choose remote learning and later choose to rejoin in-school instruction, a spot in a class would be made for them.


Will remote/online lessons be pre-recorded or live (synchronous) for secondary students?  

Educators will be using a variety of teaching methods, including synchronous (live) instruction, and asynchronous instruction (providing materials such as pre-recorded videos). There are benefits to each of these methods (e.g., pre-recorded videos are available for students to review as needed, direct student engagement during live instruction) and we will be supporting our educators to learn more about how to use these effectively.  


Can our children be exempted from synchronous learning? What would remote learning look like for students who are exempted?

Students can be exempted from synchronous learning. In this case, schools would work with individual families to provide resources and schedules for students who are choosing not to participate in synchronous remote learning.


How will work be graded for students enrolled in remote learning? 

Students will be assessed and evaluated based on curriculum expectations, and will receive progress reports, report cards, etc.


What is HCDSB doing to enhance remote delivery of instruction?

We recognize that many students and families were frustrated and disappointed with distance learning experienced during the period of school closures due to COVID-19 (April – June, 2020). Many of our teachers have been working hard over the summer to increase their own ability to provide more fulsome online instruction. We will continue to offer ongoing professional development opportunities and supports to build capacity for teachers and educators so that we can improve the quality of remote learning for students.


What online learning platform will be used for students who opt for remote delivery of instruction?  

We encourage our teachers to use D2L as their learning platform. We are aware that many teachers use Google Classroom, so we are hoping to be able to link the two platforms.

We will also continue the use of Microsoft Teams for synchronous instruction.


How will HCDSB address teacher absences?

We understand that our staff may have a number of concerns around health and safety. The safety and well-being of our staff, students and families is our first priority, and we are working very closely with Halton Public Health, and the Ministry of Labour to ensure we have the necessary measures in place to create safe working and learning environments.


How will teachers adapt the curriculum to account for the three month gap in learning?

As we return to school in September, we will be very focused on determining where student learning gaps may exist and providing supports that students may need in terms of extra help or differentiated instruction.


Has the Board developed a proposal and detailed budget outlining the incremental costs associated with the new recommendations for a safe school? 

There is an additional $25 million being allocated for all schools in the province, with HCDSB receiving a portion of that funding. As we prepare for return to school, we have already invested between $2.5-3 million dollars of the current year budget through the purchase of hand sanitizers, touchless hand dryers, and a number of other items to assist us in a healthy return to school.

We are awaiting more guidance from the Ministry regarding the expectations for return to school. When we receive this information, we will be in a better position to determine what additional purchases need to be made.


Will HCDSB be using libraries, community centres and conference centres as classrooms to ensure physical distancing?

At this time, we are not looking at placing students in facilities other than their home school. We will work within the parameters set out by Halton Region Public Health to ensure that health and safety protocols are in place as we implement the instructional delivery determined by the Ministry of Education.


How will HCDSB support families where students are unable to participate in remote learning?

If a student is not able to access to technology or the internet, we will have supports in place to ensure that student is equipped with the necessary tools to participate in remote learning.

If a student is not able to participate in online learning for other reasons, we will explore other options for program delivery based on the student and family’s individual needs.


Transportation

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-contained Community 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.  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.


If I opt out of transportation for my child, will I be able to opt back in at a later date if I change my mind, or the teaching delivery changes?

Should circumstances change, parents/guardians of students who are eligible for transportation will be able to opt back in. During the school year, parents/guardians may opt back in by contacting their child(ren)’s school. 


Community Use of Schools

Will community use of schools (rentals) be permitted on evenings and weekends?

All community use of schools permits have been cancelled until January 1, 2021 (inclusive).



Creative Design OfficerFrequently Asked Questions – Return to School