Today the Ministry of Education announced that Kindergarten to Grade 12 students in Ontario will be returning to school in September. All elementary and secondary schools for Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) will be open to students five days a week. TLDSB senior administrators will be reviewing the details of the Ministry’s directive over the next several days and including any additional protocols into our planning.
All students must re-register for school
Next week, all TLDSB families will receive an email with a link to a form asking to pre-register each child for in-person and at-home learning. Parents/guardians and students over 18 will be asked to complete forms so that we are able to plan for a safe return to school. Families who are new to TLDSB will also receive an email with instructions on how to pre-register. Once this information is received, a program will be developed with enhanced public health protocols in place. Any changes from at-school or at-home learning choices will take some time to implement once the school year begins.
As part of this pre-registration, if a student is eligible for transportation, parents/guardians will be asked to indicate if they will be using board-provided transportation in 2020-2021. Students who opt out of board-provided transportation, will not receive transportation until the next 2020-2021 semester (beginning of February).
The school day
The school day routine will be similar to prior to school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, all schools will have enhanced public health protocols. This includes mandatory cloth masks to be worn by all Grade 4 to 12 students. Students younger than Grade 4 are encouraged to wear masks, but it is not mandatory. There will be regular breaks in the day for students where physical distancing and cohorting will be monitored. There will be enhanced protocols, including cleaning of high touch surfaces, regular opportunities for hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and use of personal protective equipment (PPE), where advised and necessary. Students choosing not to attend school in person will participate in at-home learning.
TLDSB schools will be ready to welcome students on September 8. Administrators have been preparing for a return to school for several weeks with the health and well-being of our students as our main priority. All schools will have public health protocols in place which will include:
- Entry, exit, and hand washing routines for students.
- Physical distancing protocols inside the school and on the playground.
- Expectations for all students and staff to self assess any symptoms each day.
- Hand sanitizing stations at all entries.
- Limited exposure to students and staff beyond the classroom.
- Instructions on what to do if a child is or becomes ill.
- Information on what will happen if another student or a staff member becomes ill.
- Enhanced cleaning and hygiene practices on school buses.
Opting for at-home learning
A return to school is voluntary and based on parent/guardian choice. Students participating in at-home learning will be provided with online support where possible. Students learning at home and unable to connect to the internet will receive at-home delivery of materials. Live opportunities to interact and discuss materials, or recorded sessions with live follow up, will be available. Telephone conversations with one or multiple students including parents will be provided when needed and where developmentally appropriate.
At this point in time there are still many items to consider as we finalize our plans. We are working with our local public health units to review our plans to ensure we have included the most current safe practices during a pandemic.
Each TLDSB family will receive notification and a link to a student/family reentry guidebook in August and a printed copy of the guidebook in September. This guidebook will provide all the details about returning to school during a pandemic. In the meantime, a question and answer section of the website will be updated regularly to respond to questions from our school community.
Families will need to be prepared for a change in the current plan from the Ministry of Education and public health based on any emerging COVID-19 pandemic issues.