Return to school planning updates

/Return to school planning updates
Return to school planning updates2020-08-11T16:47:26-04:00

This summer, we will be providing updates about our preparations for school opening in September. These preparations will be made in consultation with Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit and Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.

Return to School Planning Update – August 11, 2020

Director’s Message to Families:

Dear TLDSB Families;

My name is Wes Hahn, and I am the new Director of Education for Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB). I had certainly hoped that my first message to our families would be under different circumstances. Instead, I am writing to you today to let you know that we understand the difficulty in making a decision about your child or children returning to school in September.

Learning at home from March to June was a challenge for everyone. There are no two ways about it. And while some students thrived in the at-home learning environment, many have struggled and need to be back in a structured classroom environment. Following the Ministry of Education’s directive, all Kindergarten to Grade 12 students will be attending school all day, every week day beginning September 8, unless parents choose at-home remote learning. 

In order to plan for the return to school, it is very important that you re-register your child by Thursday, August 13. We will not be able to make determinations on classroom make up, schedules, or bus routes until we know who is coming to school in September, and who will be staying at home for remote learning. If you have had any difficulty or did not receive a re-registration form by email, please use this form: https://bit.ly/TLDSB_Rereg

Many families want to know if they can change their mind about their choice for in-school or at-home learning. Once your choice about in-school or at-home learning has been made, this will remain the program for your child until late October. We cannot make changes prior to this because any change means alterations to classroom cohorts and to bussing route schedules. This decision has been made in the best interest of safety of our students and our staff.

I’d like to outline a few items to reassure you that we are putting the best plans in place as possible for the safety and well-being of our students. Your child’s safety is our first priority. Please know that. While our planning continues, here’s what you can count on when your child comes to school in September:

  • There will be scheduled enhanced cleaning in classrooms and in all high-touch areas in the school several times throughout the day, and a deep cleaning once students leave the school at the end of the day and first thing in the morning. 
  • Your child will be cohorted within their classroom and contact with others outside their cohort will be limited. 
  • Anything your child or any staff member brings to school will be taken home at the end of the day. 
  • Desks will be in old-fashioned rows and teachers will remain, where possible, at the front of the classroom. 
  • Your Grade 4 to Grade 12 child will be wearing a mask that you provide from home. We will also have masks available at the school. They will wear this mask throughout the day unless they are eating, or are outside and can safely physically distance. Kindergarten to Grade 3 children are encouraged to wear a mask. 
  • Grade 4 to 12 students must wear a mask while travelling to and from school on a school bus. Kindergarten to Grade 3 students will be encouraged to wear a mask on the bus.
  • Teachers will be providing clear instructions and reminders for lunchtime and washroom breaks, for mask wearing, hand hygiene, and safe cough/sneeze practices. 
  • There will be arrows and signs throughout the school providing clear directions to students. 
  • Only essential visitors will be permitted to enter the school. Parents will not be allowed in the school unless it is an emergency.
  • All teachers will be wearing masks. Students may see some staff members wearing full PPE, including a gown, gloves, face shields,and masks. These are staff members who work with students with special needs who may require closer contact than other students.
  • Almost all subjects will be taught in elementary and secondary school classrooms, with a few exceptions. In elementary schools, teachers other than the classroom teacher may come into the classroom to teach a particular subject (e.g. French). Secondary students will have up to two classes each day, so will be in up to two cohorts. 
  • There will be instructions provided for what to do if your child is sick or becomes ill while at school.
  • Parents must complete a symptoms checklist for each child at home prior to attending school each day to determine that they are symptom-free.

Here’s what you can do to prepare your child for school: 

  • Practice wearing a mask. Show your child how to put on and how to remove a mask safely. This is especially important if your child is in Kindergarten to Grade 3, practicing wearing a mask will make it a much easier transition to school. 
  • Practice washing hands and using hand sanitizer. Talk about the importance of hand washing throughout the day.
  • Have your child practice not touching their face. Try to make a game of seeing how long your child can go without touching their face. 
  • Talk about physical distancing. There could be a full class of students in your child’s cohort or secondary school classroom. Students in classrooms will not be able to physically distance by 2 metres, but they can make efforts to distance themselves as much as possible (e.g. not touching another student).
  • If they will be riding a school bus, talk about remaining in their seat, facing the front, not touching other students, and wearing their mask at all times.

I’ve offered you a few ideas and some of the items that are planned for in-school learning. For those who plan on choosing at-home remote learning, please be prepared for a different experience than in the spring. All students, in-school or at-home, must complete 300 minutes a day of learning. At-home, some of this time will be synchronous learning with a teacher providing instruction, and some will be independent learning throughout the day. Families will have the opportunity to connect with at-home remote learning teachers.

We appreciate all the questions we have received and we are responding to them as quickly as we can with the information we have available to us at this time. There are still some unanswered questions and public health are helping us to gather answers to provide to you soon. Please visit tldsb.ca/returntoschool/ often, as we will be updating this page as soon as any new information is available. 

Despite the difficult time we are in, I am looking forward to this new school year. We want the very best and care about your child’s well-being and academic success. The plans we have in place to keep your child safe at school are our first priority, but the importance of teaching and learning remains at the forefront of our planning alongside preparation for a safe school environment.

Sincerely,

Wes Hahn
Director of Education

Questions and answers

Q: If I choose at-home remote learning for my child can I still have access to the lesson materials from my child’s regular classroom?

A: Students in at-home remote learning will be assigned to a remote classroom with their own teacher.

Q: If at-home remote learning is chosen, can the hours be flexible so that I can do the instruction if I still am required to leave the home for work.

A: At-home remote learning will include both synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities during the day. Families will have opportunities to schedule their day as needed.

Q: Will my child be required to attend live streaming classes if at-home remote learning is chosen?

A: Remote learning will include synchronous learning opportunities during the day and asynchronous learning opportunities.  If a student is unable to have access to learning online, paper material delivery can be arranged.

Q: What happens if my child is falling behind ?

A: Classroom teachers will support learners and provide additional support where needed.

Q: How would re-entry to in-school learning from at-home remote learning work?

A: On request, re-entry opportunities will only occur at designated times in the school year.

Q: Will there be classes for at-home remote learning or will parents be entirely responsible for guiding children through the material?

A: Remote learning will include synchronous learning opportunities with a teacher during the day and asynchronous learning opportunities where families will have opportunities to schedule their day as needed.

Q: What support is in place for at-home learning when the kids have questions or need help with something?

A: There will be opportunities to engage with the teacher during the synchronous learning times of the day.

Q; If students choose at-home remote learning, will they be part of their school community or will they be in a “new” online school?

A: At-home remote learning students will be assigned a class teacher with a cohort of other at-home remote learners who may or may not be part of their school community.

Q: Can parents request who they get at-home remote teaching from?

A: No, as in the regular classroom structure, parents cannot request a specific teacher.

Q: Would students be given computers from school for their work if they choose at-home remote learning?

A: Student will be provided with the devices needed to successfully participate in at-home remote learning.

Q: Will at-home remote learners be learning the same curriculum as those who are in school?

A: Yes, the same curriculum will be taught and the same amount of time learning each day will be expected, with flexibility for family schedules.

Q; How do families participate in at-home remote learning if access to the internet is not possible?

A: If a student does not have access to the internet, paper delivery and pick up of materials will be arranged.

Q: Will my child continue to receive breaks during the day?

A: Elementary students will have a nutrition break included in their day. Secondary students will have short breaks and a lunch break incorporated into their day.

Q: What will recess look like for elementary? How are children going to physically distance in a school yard?

A: Recess times will be staggered to reduce numbers outdoors.  Students will remain in their cohort while outdoors for recess.

Q: How will physical distancing be maintained within the classroom during nutrition breaks as students need to remove their masks in order to eat?

A: Students will be allowed to remove their masks during lunch breaks to eat and will remain with their cohort for that time.

Q: What happens with outdoor learning, and more importantly physical education. Especially during winter months when outdoors is not an option.

A: Teachers will be encouraged to include outdoor learning in their program.  Students will be expected to dress for the weather. During the winter months time outdoors will be reduced according to the weather.

Q: How often will washrooms be cleaned once schools reopen?

A: Washrooms and other high touch areas will be on a regular cleaning schedule throughout the day and will be attended to multiple times.

Q: Why is regular testing of staff not a requirement as they will be  moving about the school more than students?

A: Testing of staff is not a requirement at this time.

Q: Will there be an increase in clearing surfaces?

A: Facilities is making plans for enhanced cleaning procedures to be in place for the start of the school year.

Q: Will handwashing be a part of the students’ day?

A: Handwashing reminders and opportunities will be part of the regular routine during the school day. Students will be required to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer frequently and upon entry and exiting the building.

Q: Will staff or students be required to get tested if they go back into the schools?

A; There is no requirement for staff or students to be tested for COVID-19 prior to returning to school.  Staff and students will be required to take the self-assessment provided by Public Health on a daily basis prior to entering any TLDSB building.  Individuals with COVID-19 symptoms should contact their Public Health Unit and follow any directions given which may include testing.

Q: Will school playground equipment continue to be closed if students go back to school?

A; At this point, the board has not discussed opening playground equipment. The focus has been on creating a healthy interior learning environment.

Q: Will my child’s temperature be taken as part of an entry screen process into the school?

A: No, temperatures will not be taken on entry to school. All students must complete a self- assessment at home each day prior to coming to school. If the self-assessment indicates that the child is healthy then they may come to school. If they are displaying any of the symptoms, including a fever, on the self-assessment checklist (to be distributed to families) then the child is to remain at home until well.

Q: Will the school day be reduced? Will the school day hours be the same length as before the pandemic?

A: At this time, the school day will remain the same with 300 minutes of learning each day.

Q: Do kids potentially belong to 3 cohorts? The classroom, the bus, and the afterschool program?

A: Yes, there is the potential that students will be included in various cohorts including the classroom, the bus, and before and after school programs. The Ministry guidelines state that direct and indirect contacts in schools for elementary students should be limited to approximately 50.

Q: How will students work on group projects in the classroom or in the school?

A: Teachers will consider other assignments or other means for students to work collaboratively.

Q: How will lunchtime be managed?

A: Lunch times will be staggered in both elementary and secondary schools.

Q: What will hand hygiene look like on a typical day?

A: Regular hand washing or sanitizing will be in place. Students will be asked to wash or sanitize their hands when entering and exiting the school and regularly throughout the day including before and after lunch and breaks. Schools will develop schedules and provide hand sanitizer and soap/water hand washing where there are classroom sinks to ensure there is little disruption to learning as possible.

Q: What will physical education / gym classes look like for students? Will they have to wear masks?

A: Where possible physical education / gym classes will take place outdoors where physical distancing is possible. When physical distancing is not possible, masks will be worn.

Q: Is physical distancing possible in a full classroom of students?

A: Physical distancing will not be possible in schools which is why students in grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear masks in the classroom and students in kindergarten to grade 3 will be encouraged to wear a mask.

Q: What protocols should be taken regarding drinking fountains and refill stations and students’ water bottles?

A: Drinking fountains will be closed.  Refill stations will be open and treated as a high touch surface area that will be cleaned often throughout the day.  Students will be asked to bring a labelled water bottle to school. Using a “boomerang” concept, all items brought to school must be taken home at the end of the day.

Q: Will school libraries be open?

A: School libraries will be closed to circulation in September. Students will be encouraged to use the board provided app, Sora, to access digital texts.

Q: Are the schools trying to cap classroom sizes?

A: Classroom sizes are determined by collective agreements.

Q: Will all subject areas be taught?

A: When students are attending school all day every day, all subject areas will be taught. There may be some courses not offered for secondary students choosing at-home remote learning.

Q: Will instrumental music and vocal classes run as normal this school year?

A: Based on public health advice, we will determine modifications and cleaning protocols for these subject areas.

Q: How will computers and other equipment be used safely by multiple student groups throughout the day?

A: Shared equipment will be kept to a minimum.  Any shared material will be disinfected between uses.

Q: What game or physical activity equipment can be used in elementary during physical education / gym classes or recesses?

A: Individually assigned equipment can be used.  Any shared equipment will be disinfected between use.

Q: Will elementary student belongings be kept apart in cloak spaces?

A: Staff and students will be asked to “boomerang” their belongings. Anything coming to school must go home at the end of the day. Personal belongings will need to be kept at a minimum to assist in opportunities for frequent cleaning of the classroom and other surfaces.

Q: What will drop off and pick up at schools look and like?

A: Individual schools will determine the best way to manage pick up and drop off of students. Parents will not be permitted into the school building unless it is an emergency. Plans may include staggered arrival time slots and the expectation that parents do not arrive early (or late!).

Q: How will teachers manage classrooms with students who find it difficult to remain seated?

A: Classroom set up may be in rows so that students can be as physically distanced as possible. Students in grades 4 to 12 will be wearing masks in the classroom and students in kindergarten to grade 3 will be encouraged to wear masks.

Q: What do I do if my child will be late for school?

A: Parent/guardians are to call the school if a child will be late. Parents/guardians must remain outside and call the school office on arrival.  Schools will communicate specific procedures for arrival with families. 

Q: What will I need to do each day before I send my child to school?

A: All students must complete a self- assessment at home each day prior to coming to school. If the self-assessment indicates that the child is healthy then they may come to school. If they are displaying any of the symptoms, including a fever, on the self-assessment checklist (to be distributed to families) then the child is to remain at home until well.

Q: If my family travels prior to the return to school, do we have to self isolate for 14 days?

A: Travel outside of Canada is currently the only travel that requires individuals to self-isolate for 14 days upon return to Ontario.  At this time Ontario does not have any requirements for individuals to self isolate for 14 days for travel within Canada.  TLDSB will be adhering to current Public Health directives which may change at any time.

Q: What happens if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19?

A: Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 may not return to school until they are cleared according to public health guidance. Public health officials will determine any additional steps required, including but not limited to the declaration of an outbreak and closure of classes and/or schools. More information about managing COVID-19 related illness will be provided to the school board by public health. This information will be shared with TLDSB school communities when it is available.

Q: What happens if there is an outbreak and schools are closed again?

A: All students will automatically be registered for at-home remote learning.

Q: Should a student become ill,  not with COVID-19 but with the common cold, will they be under quarantine?

A: Students who are sick for any reason are asked to stay home until they are healthy.  The local public health unit will determine next steps.

Q: How will learning be continued when a child is sick and it shadows symptoms of COVID-19 as many illnesses do?

A: As when your child is home ill, materials will be provided by the classroom teacher.

Q: If someone in my family has been exposed to COVID-19 should I let the school know?

A: Yes, if any family member has been exposed to COVID-19 please contact the health unit and let the school know.

Q: If my child isn’t feeling well, should they go to school?

A: Students who are sick for any reason are asked to stay home until they are healthy.

Q: How will Kindergarten look? Will their day resume as normal just with additional hand washing and cleaning of surfaces? These children learn through play and exploration.

A: Kindergarten will use the established health protocols and will use physical distancing whenever possible. This may include limited numbers at stations, increased outdoor learning and individual materials.

Q: What date will Junior Kindergarten students be starting school?

A: Kindergarten students will enter in a staggered entry as in past years.

Q: What happens when Junior Kindergarten students are crying, can staff hold their hands, give them hugs?

A: With proper procedures and equipment, physical contact is possible.

Q: Will there be the option for Junior Kindergarten students to have a meet and greet with the teacher beforehand?

A: Kindergarten students will enter in a staggered entry as in past years allowing small numbers of students at a time to meet the educators.

Q: Will there be one teacher per kindergarten class all day and will this change the number of students in a classroom?

A: There will be a limited number of educators assigned to a class.

Q: What is the plan for kindergarten classes with no desks?

A: Students will have assigned seating spaces in the classroom.

Q: How will Junior Kindergarten students physically distance with large class sizes?

A: Students will physically distance from other cohorts and will have closer contact within their assigned cohort.

Q: Will my child need to wear a mask to school?

A: All students in grade 4-12 will be required to wear a cloth mask. Students in K-3 will be encouraged to wear a cloth mask. It is important to communicate any mask wearing concerns with the school principal. 

Q: Who decides that a mask is no longer safe or that it has potentially been compromised?

A: We will be providing education to students regarding proper mask use

Q: What times of the day/areas of the school are masks required?

A: Masks will be required at all times for students in Grades 4-12 when indoors, including in hallways and during classes. Masks are also mandatory on the school bus for students in Grades 4-12.  Outdoor times such as recess will be opportunities for  students to take a short break from wearing masks within their cohorts. Masks will not be required when physical distancing is in place outdoors.

Q: How will students in kindergarten to grade 3 be encouraged to wear a mask?

A: A safe, caring, and respectful learning environment is essential for all members of our school communities. School staff will work closely with parents of Kindergarten to grade 3 students to encourage wearing a mask.  

Q: If I feel my child needs to be exempted from wearing a mask, what do I do?

A: If your child is unable to wear a mask, please contact the school principal. 

Q: Will masks be worn during physical activity? Are students wearing masks for gym class?

A: Schools will make efforts to provide periods of physical activity outdoors wherever possible.  Outdoor times like outdoor physical education programming can be used as an opportunity to provide students with a break from wearing masks within their cohorts.

Q: Will children with asthma or other respiratory issues be allowed to be exempt from masks?

A:Reasonable exceptions to the requirement to wear masks will be determined. 

Staff or students with sensory or breathing difficulties may be exempted by the school principal.

Q: Why not paper masks? Why only cloth masks?

A: Cloth masks are reusable, can be washed daily, and are therefore a more environmentally friendly option. However, non-medical masks of any type may be worn by students.

Q: Are face shields acceptable or does it have to be a mask?

A: Students may choose to also wear a face shield brought from home. However, Grade 4-12 students must wear a mask even when wearing a face shield.

Q: Will our children be required to wear a face mask when in the classroom sitting, physically distanced, and not moving around?

A: Masks must be worn by all Grade 4 to 12 students while inside the school and when not physically distanced outside or on the school bus.

Q: Are students with disabilities such as ASD and ADHD exempted from wearing a mask?

A: Speak with the school principal. Most exemptions are for those who have breathing issues. The school staff can work with parents and students to encourage the wearing of masks.

Q: With mandatory mask wearing during school how will safe implementation of lunch/snacks take place?

A: Classroom teachers will teach students proper mask, handwashing, and respiratory etiquette.  Lunch will take place in classrooms and masks will be removed during eating.

Q: Why are children in lower grades not required to wear a mask?

A:Kindergarten to grade 3 students will be encouraged to wear a mask while at school. However, this will not be mandatory as students in younger grades may have difficulty in managing mask wearing while at school.

Q: What if my child is in a grade that requires a mask but refuses? Or removes it in class and won’t put it back on?

A: As with all protocols, there will be expectations for students to follow the school code of conduct which will include following the rules of the school.

Q: What happens to children who can’t wear masks and are now singled out/ bullied because of it? Thus creating an obvious divide in students.

A: Classroom teachers will be sensitive to the needs of students who are exempted from wearing a mask and help other students in the class with understanding.

Q: How can you guarantee mental health and emotional health of students when all teachers/staff have to wear masks and students can’t see the teacher’s face? 

A: Staff will work with students to understand the purpose and need to wear masks and PPE.  This will also assist with students understanding the use of masks in public areas of our community.

Q: Can I still volunteer in my child’s school?

A: No, schools will not be allowing entry to volunteers.  There may be opportunities to support the school in other ways.

Q: How will class cohorts work for split families where children are going to the other parent’s home where they too have children who belong to a different cohort potentially in a different school?

A: The Ministry guidelines state that direct and indirect contacts in schools for elementary students should be limited to approximately 50.This allows for different cohorts where necessary. Schools will work to limit cohorts where possible.

Q: Will cottagers be able to register their children in our schools?

A: Yes, if cottagers own their residence, they may register at the school within the boundary of their home. Boundary information may be found on mybustoschool.ca

Q: What is TLDSB doing to reduce and accommodate indoor gatherings in schools?

A: Assemblies and large gatherings will not be held in school.

Q: Will Empower Reading still happen?

A: We are able to continue with Empower Reading program in schools where there is a trained teacher. 

Q: Will children  be part of a physical classroom at their school with interactions between students and teacher?

A: Yes, students returning in person will have a class cohort.

Q: Should I come into the school?

A: Parents and other visitors will not be permitted into the school unless for emergencies. Only essential visitors will be permitted (school counselors, special education staff, maintenance staff).

Q: Will my child be interacting with other children outside of those in their classroom?

A: Students are encouraged to remain with their cohort at all times.

Q: Will French immersion be offered for grade 2 at-home remote learning?

A: Programs will continue to be offered in person and through at-home remote learning if numbers warrant and qualified teaching staff is available.

Q: With the full class return to the school, how will you manage the 1 m distance between desks in the already crowded classrooms?

A: Physical distancing may not be possible in classrooms which is why masks will be mandatory for all grade 4 to 12 students and encouraged for all kindergarten to grade 3 students.

Q: Is my child able to use the learn at home for secondary school before starting in September, to get a headstart for the new school year?

A: Yes, these materials are available for use throughout the summer.

Q: Can we make changes to a choice for return to school later in August when we know more about class sizes?

A: No, schools will be reorganized based on the re-registration numbers. There may be an option later in the year to make changes.

Q: What  is the size or number of students allowed in the cohort?

A: The Ministry guidelines outline that in elementary schools students will remain in one cohort throughout the day. This cohort will be the number of students in one class plus the teachers that need to interact with the students throughout the day. The number direct and indirect contacts in elementary schools for students should be limited to approximately 50.

Secondary schools may be offering a quadmester option where students attend two classes per day and will therefore be in 2 cohorts each day. The number of direct and indirect contacts in secondary schools for students is to be limited to approximately 100.

Q: What is the boomerang model? What does it mean for lunches and school supplies (items from home)?

A: TLDSB will adopt a boomerang approach to  items being brought into and out of schools for the Fall of 2020.   All personal items that arrive with a student and/or a staff member for use that day will leave with them at the end of the day.

Q: My daughter attends the IB program at Weldon. Is the full program still being offered this year and will transfer bussing still be offered?

A: Programs will continue to be offered in person and through remote learning if numbers warrant and qualified teaching staff is available.

Q: Will secondary students get a new schedule?

A: Secondary students may get a new schedule.

Q: What happens with the elective classes for the students doing at-home remote learning?

A: Some optional courses will not be available  for at-home remote learning. For example, construction courses will not be available online.

Q: Are teachers managing both an in class contingent at the same time as an at home contingent, or are their classes dedicated to one or the other?

A: Classroom teachers at school will not be teaching the at-home remote learning. There will be dedicated at-home remote learning teachers.

Q: Will I have an estimate of my high school child’s class sizes before having to make a decision?

A: Class sizes in secondary school will remain as they have in the past. 

Q: Are you looking at holding music classes outside or in the gym to facilitate enough room to run the program?

A: Schools may consider relocating classrooms to provide more space.

Q: How will ‘traffic’ be managed in secondary hallways in order to avoid crowding while still allowing access to lockers?

A: Directional arrows and staggered breaks will be in place.  Lockers will not be utilized.

Q: If my child no longer wants to take music because the course content has changed so dramatically, will there be the ability for her to select a different course?

A: Course changes should be requested through the school’s guidance office.

Q: What are your plans for Grade 12 students, will they be receiving any in-person education?

A: All students attending in person will have scheduled classes with direct instruction.

Q: What does special education and interventions look like?

A: An IEP will be developed for all students with special education needs regardless of the choice you make during pre-registration (e.g. in person learning or at home learning).  In-person interventions will be planned with enhanced health and safety protocols in place and will recognize the importance of limiting the direct and indirect contacts in school for students to approximately 50 people at elementary and 100 people in secondary.  Per our usual processes, parents will be consulted as the IEP is developed.

Q: How do I pre-register my child for at home learning and is there any special instructions or things I need to do for her being special education.

A: Please fill in the pre-registration form indicating you prefer at home learning.  As always, communicate the special needs of your child with the school and the school will follow our normal processes to develop an IEP.  Per our usual processes, parents will be consulted as the IEP is developed. 

Q: How is the social development of children going to be affected if all students and staff are masked? How do you learn facial expressions, intentions, etc.

A: The social development and wellbeing of students is of utmost importance to us.  We know that adjustments will need to be made to teaching and instruction when masking is in place.  We have access to alternative programs/curricula that will support this learning.  As always, parents will be consulted in the IEP development process and a clear plan will be made to meet the needs of your child.

Q: Can my child that is with special needs attend school half time in class and half time at home?

A: When a student pre-registers for in person attendance, it is expected that they will attend school full time.  Sometimes, as part of a planned program, a student with special needs may require the accommodation of a modified day/week (e.g. a reduced attendance plan). Needs of this nature need to be communicated with the school and approved by the principal in advance.   Modified day or week schedules are documented in the transition plan/IEP.  At home learning will not be offered for the time at home.

Q: How do you plan on sterilizing the buses everyday?

A: The MTO has clear guidelines that the board will expect our operators to adhere to.

Q: Does my child have to take the bus?

A: Parents will have the option to have their child opt-out of taking the bus to school if they are eligible for bus transportation. Enhanced cleaning protocols for buses are directed by the federal government and may be found here: https://www2.tc.gc.ca/en/services/road/federal-guidance-school-bus-operations-during-covid-19-pandemic.html.

Q: What will the students do when they get off the bus in the morning?

A: Entry and exit procedures will be communicated by the school prior to school start.

Q: How is the bus driver going to ensure social distancing is happening on the school bus? I’ve been on class trips and the kids do not sit still and face forward.

A: Students in grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear masks on the bus. Students Kindergarten to grade 3 will be encouraged to wear masks. Physical distancing of 2 metres will not be possible. However, seat assignments are being considered with siblings seated together.

Q: Will TLDSB be releasing detailed plans for busing and other logistics, in-person learning, and at-home learning before families have to re-register students and commit to one learning or transportation option?

A: Information that we have available at this time has been included in the messaging to families. There are some pieces of information that we do not yet have and so need to continue seeking answers to incorporate into our planning.

Q: If we switch them from at home learning to in class learning what will be the process to get them their bus transportation to school? Will they have to wait until February?

A: Any changes to bus transportation will not be able to take place until the beginning of the second semester of the school year.

Q: I would like to know how many children will be on my son’s bus?

A: We will not know how many students can potentially be on buses until we receive confirmation from parents that they plan have their child use bus transportation.

Q: I need to change the address assigned to my child for the bus.

A: All address changes need to be made through the school after August 31.

Let’s Stay Connected

We want to keep our students, parents, and school communities informed. We will release Return to School Planning updates through the following channels:

Website: www.tldsb.ca/returntoschool/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TLDSB
Twitter: @TLDSB

Other Return to School Planning Updates

The safety and well-being of our students and staff is our priority as we plan for Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) schools to open in September. The beginning of a new school year is an exciting time. We are aware that this year there will be some anxiety about coming back to school during a pandemic and our re-entry plan will help with this.

All parents/guardians (and students over the age of 18) must re-register each child for school. A re-registration form will be emailed to each TLDSB family on Friday, August 7, 2020. Re-registration is part of the planning process during the current COVID-19 pandemic and is for ALL students, including those newly registered at a TLDSB school. Students who are not re-registered for September will be assumed to be attending at school. Re-registrations must be received by Thursday, August 13, 2020.

If you have had any difficulty or did not receive a re-registration form by email, please use this form: https://bit.ly/TLDSB_Rereg

Outlined below you will see what learning will look like in September, including the elementary school day, the secondary school day, at-home remote learning, and school bus transportation. Parents/guardians must choose in-school or at-home remote learning for their child. Families eligible for bus transportation must indicate whether their child will be using bus transportation to and from school.

No plan is final as things during this pandemic can change. We will respond to these changes if we need to, following the advice of the Ministry of Education or public health. Further information, including a Q and A section, is available here https://tldsb.ca/returntoschool/.

The Ministry of Education, The Ministry of Health, and local public health units will work closely with school boards to monitor and respond to any reports of COVID-19 symptoms. Parents will be expected to self-assess their children daily before sending them to school using a checklist that will be provided to families before the school year begins.

Here’s what elementary schools will look like:

  • Students will attend five days a week with 300 minutes of instruction per day.
  • Students will remain in their class cohort for the full day, including recess and lunch.
  • Timing of recesses, lunches, and bathroom breaks will be staggered to support cohorting.
  • There will be clearly marked designated entrances and exits for students.
  • Students in Grades 4 to 8 will be expected to wear a cloth mask at school.
  • Students in primary grades (K-3) will be encouraged to wear a cloth mask at school.
    • 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.
  • Specific details about bell times will be provided by the school prior to September 8.
  • Most visitors, including parents, will not be permitted in school buildings.
  • Schools with before and after school programs will continue with cohorted programming.
  • Mental health and well-being supports will be available for students.

Here’s what secondary schools will look like:

  • Students will attend five days a week with 300 minutes of class time per day.
  • To minimize the number of contacts each day, there will be a reduced number of credits at one time to keep student cohorts intact.
  • Students will remain in class cohorts, including lunch and regular breaks throughout the day.
  • Timing of lunches, and bathroom breaks will be staggered to support cohorting.
  • There will be clearly marked designated entrances and exits for students.
  • Students in Grades 9 to 12 will be expected to wear a cloth mask while at school.
    • 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.
  • Specific details about bell times will be provided by the school prior to September 8.
  • Schools have been asked to significantly limit or even prohibit visitors, including parents.
  • Mental health and well-being supports will be available for students.

Here’s what at-home remote learning will look like:

  • A blend of at-home live instruction and independent learning will be similar to the amount of time that students usually spend in the classroom.
  • Remote instruction and learning will be provided online with support for devices and connectivity for families where applicable and possible.
  • Students participating in remote learning who are not able to access on-line materials will receive remote delivery of paper materials.
  • Telephone conversations with one or multiple students, including parents will be provided when needed and where developmentally appropriate.
  • Not all optional courses will be available to secondary students in remote learning (e.g. construction courses).
  • Mental health and well-being supports will be available for students.

Here’s what bus transportation will look like: 

  • Enhanced public health protocols will be in place on buses and buses will be disinfected twice daily.
  • Bus drivers will be wearing personal protective equipment.
  • A seating plan will be established designed to minimize contact between students. This may include siblings sitting together on the bus.
  • All students in Grades 4 to 12 must wear a cloth mask while on the bus.
  • All students in primary grades will be encouraged to wear a cloth mask while on the bus

Please see the letter from Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, to all Ontario parents regarding the government’s plans to reopen publicly funded schools in September.

Letter from the Minister of Education.

Information related to COVID-19 pandemic and TLDSB Learning@Home may be found at tldsb.ca. All return to school planning information will be posted to the Return to School page.

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.

Ministry of Education media release

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. 

Transportation re-registration

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.

Next steps

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.

Questions?

Please submit your questions to info@tldsb.on.ca  We will add your question and a response to our Q & A section of the website.

Information related to COVID-19 pandemic and TLDSB Learning@Home may be found at tldsb.ca.

At the end of June, we asked the question, “What are your thoughts and concerns as we consider planning for school in September?” More than 2,000 parents/guardians provided thoughts, ranging from the cleaning of schools, the role of teachers, buses, scheduling, class sizes, to physical distancing.

We know it is important to you that students can return to a safe school environment, that you know what school will look like in September, and that you are concerned about your children’s mental health and well-being. The information gathered from the Thought Exchange is being used to prepare for a return to school in September.

As required, we will be prepared for three possible scenarios:

  1. A normal school day routine with enhanced public health protocols
  2. A modified school day with small cohorts on alternative days
  3. At-home learning.

Rigorous health and safety protocols will be in place for each of these scenarios, and parents will have the option to choose in-home learning. In August, Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) families will receive a notification asking you to indicate whether or not you intend to send your child to school. This information will be used to develop bus routes for bussed students, and to set up classrooms and school routines with safety protocols in place.

As we collaborate with public health and the Ministry of Education, our priority is to provide a safe and caring learning environment for our staff and students when we return to school. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue our planning process.

Information related to COVID-19 pandemic and TLDSB Learning@Home may be found at tldsb.ca.

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