Frequently Asked Questions – Return to School

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



Health &


Optional Remote


What are the Delivery Models?

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.
  • An adapted timetable model that will support smaller student cohorts.
  • 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 that will be put in place if students are to 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 individuals 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 COVID-19 Self-Assessment.

  • 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.

If you child 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.


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.


  • 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 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.
  • The Ministry of Education has mandated that students in Grade 4-12 will be required to wear non-medical or cloth masks while in school. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be encouraged but not required to wear mask in indoor spaces.
  • Medical masks will be provided for teachers and all other school staff.  Reasonable exceptions to this requirement will be put in place.

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.

Are masks (PPE) mandatory?

The Ministry of Education has mandated that students in Grade 4-12 will be required to wear non-medical or cloth masks while in school. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be encouraged but not required to wear mask in indoor spaces.

Medical masks will be provided for teachers and all other school staff.  Reasonable exceptions to this requirement will be put in place.

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.

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.

Optional Remote Learning

How long are students enrolled in remote delivery required to stay with that option?

Secondary students will be permitted to transition into a different learning format at the end of each credit. In our current model, students will start a new credit every 5 weeks.

We will be exploring ways to support these transitions in the elementary curriculum as well, and will communicate this when a decision has been made.


What if parents change their decision about sending their child to school based on rising COVID-19 rates?

As per the Ministry guidelines, in-school attendance will be voluntary and is based on parent choice. Families may opt to have their children continue full-time remote learning. It would be important for parents to notify their child’s school if they make a change in their arrangement so that the school can prepare to offer remote education to that student. Key times will be identified when this option is available.

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 absences if teachers are unwilling to come back to work?

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.


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. 

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