Frequently Asked Questions

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

All Schools Will Remain CLOSED to Students for the Remainder of the 2019-2020 School Year

On May 19th, the Ministry of Education announced that they are extending the school closure period for all students for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. This decision has been made as a safety precaution to protect our students and help minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

In light of this directive, all HCDSB schools will remain CLOSED until Friday, June 26, 2020.

What is CANCELLED or CLOSED until Friday, June 26, 2020

  • All HCDSB elementary and secondary schools will be CLOSED.
  • All childcare and EarlyOn centres will be CLOSED.
  • All before & after school programs will be CANCELLED.
  • Effective March 17 through June 26 – HCDSB Board Office will be CLOSED to public access.
  • Thomas Merton Centres for Adult & Continuing Education will be CLOSED.
  • Credit courses, Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC), and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes offered at ALL Thomas Merton Centre locations will be CANCELLED.
  • All Community Use of Schools permits will be CANCELLED.
  • All full day and camp programs originally scheduled during March Break will be CANCELLED.

Cancelled or Postponed Meetings/Events

We have posted a list of CANCELLED or POSTPONED meetings and events in light of school closures and in our ongoing efforts to help minimize the risk of contagion in our community. This list will be updated and reposted regularly. ​

Extended School Closures & Distance Learning

On March 31st, the Ministry of Education announced the extension to the school closure period as a safety precaution to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our community. The Ministry has indicated that the closure may be extended beyond May 4th as necessary to protect the health and well-being of students, families and staff. In light of this directive, on Monday, April 6, 2020, all HCDSB schools transitioned to teacher-led instruction within a distance learning environment.

What is Distance Learning?

Distance learning is instruction that takes place outside of a traditional classroom setting. While some of the instruction may be conducted online, students are not expected to be on a device for all of their learning. We encourage students to read, communicate and engage in learning experiences. It may look different for each class, but in general, distance learning:

  • Is flexible and can be done at any point during the day
  • Does not always require online access
  • Requires minimal parent/guardian support

Hours of Instruction and Areas of Focus

The Ministry of Education has provided school boards with the following parameters to help guide teacher-led distance learning:

The following is provided by the Ministry of Education as a minimum guideline:
Grade range  
K-Grade 3
  • 5 hours of work per student, per week
  • Focus: Literacy and math
Grades 4-6
  • 5 hours of work per student, per week
  • Focus: Literacy and math + science and social studies
Grades 7-8
  • 10 hours of work per student, per week
  • Focus: Core math, literacy, science and social studies
Grades 9-12
  • 3 hours of work per course, per week for semestered students;
    1.5 hours of work per course, per week for non-semestered students
  • Focus: Achieving credits/completion/graduation

Hours refer to the approximate amount of time students would spend on the work assigned by teachers. This does not mean the amount of time educators or students are expected to be in front of a screen. Teacher work would include preparation of assigned work and providing feedback or assessment. Teacher engagement with students is expected but would vary depending on circumstances and could include a range of ways that teachers would connect with their students.

Teacher teams, including specialist teachers, may be used to develop assigned work for students, including in subjects such as art, music, French as a second language and physical activity, and to contribute to board identified resources for learning at home.

As a Catholic school system, our focus will also include Religion and Family Life, and our teachers will continue to integrate our faith and Gospel values in all subject areas.

During this period, we continue to provide supports for our students through our Special Education department, which includes Special Education Resource Teachers (SERTS), Educational Assistants (EAs), Social Workers, Child and Youth Counselors (CYCs), Speech and Language Pathologists, Psychologists, etc.


Will students participate in Cooperative Education (Co-op) programs?

UPDATE! Students currently enrolled in cooperative education or participating in a Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program will work with their teachers to modify their programs to meet curriculum expectations.


Will eLearning courses continue?

eLearning courses will be SUSPENDED during this period of school closures.


Will the OSSLT assessment scheduled for March 31 be cancelled?

On March 17, 2020, the Ministry of Education confirmed that EQAO assessments would be CANCELLED for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

This means that:

  • The Grade 3, 6, and 9 EQAO assessments will NOT take place this school year.
  • The Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) assessment WILL NOT take place this school year.
  • The Ministry has further indicated that the literacy graduation requirement will be WAIVED for students who are graduating in the 2019-2020 school year.

Students who are not graduating this school year will have the opportunity to
write the OSSLT in the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.


Will students attend Dual Credit programs?

Students will not attend Dual Credit programs during the closure period.


Will students attend Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Programs (OYAP)?

Students will not attend OYAP programs during the closure period.


Will HCDSB cancel out-of-province and out-of-country school trips?

All out-of-province and out-of-country trips have been CANCELLED during this period.


Will HCDSB cancel field trips?

UPDATE! Yes, all field trips (day and overnight) are CANCELLED for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.


Will the school year be extended into the summer months?

At this point in time, we do not have information from the Ministry of Education regarding an extension of the school year. We will provide updates as they become available.


What happens with upcoming PA days and exam days?

All remaining Professional Activity (PA) Days and exam days will be replaced with instructional days.


Will summer programs be available?

The memo released by the ministry, dated April 26, 2020, refers to the introduction of an expanded summer learning program that will focus on credit recovery, supports for vulnerable students, and course upgrading. At this time, we do not have any additional information, but we will continue to share any new updates with you as they become available.

Assessment & Evaluation

How will elementary student work be assessed and evaluated during distance learning?

For elementary students, teachers will use formative assessment approaches to gather evidence of how students are progressing in their learning. It is expected that teachers will provide feedback to their students on their progress.

Teachers will use assessments to gather evidence of how students are progressing and will provide meaningful feedback to support students in their ongoing learning. If it is not possible to evaluate a specific curriculum strand, that section of the final report card will be left without a mark and a comment will indicate that the strand was not evaluated.


How will secondary student work be assessed and evaluated during distance learning?

Secondary students will be assigned learning tasks, projects and culminating activities that will be marked by their teachers for the purposes of formative and summative evaluation. Teachers will communicate results of these marked assignments to students.


Will students receive report cards?

Yes. All elementary and secondary students (Kindergarten – Grade 12) will receive a final report card.

For elementary school students:

  • Teachers will continue to gather evidence of student learning and provide meaningful feedback to students on their progress.
  • Students will receive a June report card, including the Kindergarten Communication of Learning.
  • Final grades will be based on learning up until March 13.
  • Work completed after April 6 will be reviewed and may be used to increase final grades if a student demonstrates improvement.

For secondary school students:

  • Final marks will be calculated based on work completed from the start of Semester 2 to March 13.
  • Final marks CANNOT go down from what they were on March 13 (or at midterm in the case of Grade 12 courses).
  • Final marks on June report cards will remain the same or, if a student demonstrates improvement after March 13, marks may go up.
  • Students are expected to continue to complete assigned work and be engaged in the learning, lessons and assignments. This is necessary for students to continue to improve their learning skills and to ensure they do not have gaps in knowledge when they return to school.

Will secondary mid-term report cards be issued?

Mid-term marks will only be entered for Grade 12 students by April 23, 2020, to meet the deadline to report grades to the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC) and the Ontario College Application Service (OCAS). Marks will reflect work completed up until March 13th. However, assessments completed after April 6th can be used to improve a student’s mark, if he/she demonstrates further achievement of curriculum expectations.

Graduating Secondary Students

Will students be at risk of not graduating?

A priority will be placed on students scheduled to graduate this year and any student on track to graduate will be supported to graduate.


What about mid-term marks for secondary graduates?

The Ministry of Education and school boards across the province will continue to prioritize and support students on track to graduating. In order to meet admission requirements for post-secondary education, graduating students will be receiving marks by April 23rd on work completed by that time. Marks will reflect work completed up until March 13th. However, assessments completed after April 6th can be used to improve a student’s mark, if he/she demonstrates further achievement of curriculum expectations.


Will the closure impact college and university applications?

Applications were generally due in January. If you have questions, check with your college or university.


Can secondary graduates obtain financial support for postsecondary education?

Yes, applications are now open for the 2020-21 Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) for full-time students. Secondary graduates can now apply to the OSAP program for the 2020-21 school year to help with their postsecondary education costs. Students who have questions about OSAP or the OSAP application can contact the Financial Aid Office at the college or university they plan to attend.


Will secondary mid-term report cards be issued?

Mid-term marks will only be entered for Grade 12 students by April 23, 2020, to meet the deadline to report grades to the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC) and the Ontario College Application Service (OCAS). Marks will reflect work completed up until March 13th. However, assessments completed after April 6th can be used to improve a student’s mark, if he/she demonstrates further achievement of curriculum expectations.


Can students graduate if they have not completed their community service/volunteer hours? 

Yes! The graduation requirement to complete 40 hours of community service is suspended for this school year. Community service hours that have been completed will be recorded on the report cards of graduating students.


Will HCDSB graduation ceremonies take place?

All HCDSB graduation ceremonies are POSTPONED until further notice. More information will be shared by schools.

Access to Technology

What about access to technology to complete distance learning?

We recognize that many families in our community do not have access to devices to engage in a full online curriculum. At this time, the emergency measures that require everyone to stay at home, do not allow students or parents to access schools.

If you anticipate specific challenges for your child in accessing curriculum in an online format, including access to technology (devices) or access to wi-fi, please contact your school Principal.

We are working with Halton Region Public Health on an approved distribution system for those with the greatest needs. We are in the process of distributing school devices to support at-home learning for families without access to technology. We are working with our school Principals to distribute available devices from schools where needed, which will enable students to access teacher-led learning activities in an online environment.


I’m having trouble logging in multiple children on D2L. What should I do?

In households where multiple children need to log into D2L on one device, there are options that will allow two or more students to be logged in to their class portals at the same time. This will help reduce the number of sign-ins needed and make accessing D2L class portals easier and faster for students.

For detailed instructions, visit the following D2L page.

Programs and Child Care

Will the Thomas Merton Centre for Continuing Education remain open?

The Thomas Merton Centre for Continuing Education will be CLOSED.


Will programs run through the Thomas Merton Centre for Continuing Education proceed?

All credit courses, Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC), and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes offered at ALL Thomas Merton Centre locations will be CANCELLED.


Will the Board Office be open?

In order to protect HCDSB staff and help minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our community, our HCDSB Board Office will be CLOSED to public access effective March 17, 2020 and until Monday, May 4, 2020.


Will HCDSB Welcome Centres be open?

All HCDSB Welcome Centres will be CLOSED.


Will child care and EarlyON centres continue to operate?

All child care and EarlyON centres will be CLOSED.


Will Community Use of School permits be cancelled?

All Community Use of School permits will be CANCELLED from March 14 through to May 4, 2020.


What About Pizza, Hot Lunches and Milk Orders?

UPDATE! Parents are asked to contact their schools directly to receive refunds of food programs (pizza, hot lunches, milk orders, etc.).

Keeping Our Students, Families and Staff Healthy

My child is feeling anxious about this situation. How can I help?

Our mental health leadership team has shared the following tips and resources to help parents support their children during this period of uncertainty:


What measures is HCDSB taking to reduce the risk to students and staff when schools re-open?

We will continue to undertake the following actions:

  • Enhanced cleaning of touch surfaces in schools, including:
    • Door handles, panic bars, drinking fountains, sinks, faucets, telephones, handrails, washroom fixtures, desks, light switches, vending machines and other common touch points.
  • We will also undertake a deep clean and disinfection of all schools, and again in the days prior to the reopening of schools.

Travel Recommendations – Government of Canada

We encourage all HCDSB families and staff to follow the advice of public health authorities and the federal government.

On March 13, 2020, the Government of Canada announced that Canadians should avoid all non-essential travel outside of the country effective immediately.

As a Board, we want to ensure we use the closure period to reduce the risk of contagion when schools re-open. We therefore ask that during this time, you follow the advice of public health authorities and avoid public gatherings and travel outside of Canada.
Self-isolate as required, so that when schools re-open we can be confident that we have all done our part to keep students and staff safe.


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