As we look ahead to re-opening our schools and the joy of welcoming our students back, our Board will be animating the closing line from our Vision Statement: “This is what Yahweh asks of you: only this, to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8.
As we approach the new school year, we should take comfort in our faith and remember that with humility and mercy, we will once again navigate our return to school to ensure our students receive an exceptional educational experience while simultaneously keeping our school communities as safe as possible during this global pandemic.
Following the Ministry of Education guidelines as well as those from the Renfrew County and District Health Unit, our schools will have both existing and new routines and practices in place to ensure the physical safety of each of our school communities.
Please take the time to carefully read all these guidelines and to review them with your child(ren) as well. The more familiar we all become with the new guidelines, the easier the transition back to school will be. Please note that this update contains changes from our last update on August 25, 2021.
Updated Contact Information
It is imperative that parents ensure the school office has all of your child’s correct contact and health information on file. Individual schools will be sending out communication regarding the updating of this information and how they would like you to provide them with updates.
Before, During and After The School Day
- Self-Screening: Students must complete the Covid Self-Assessment DAILY and not get on the bus or enter the school if they have any new and worsening symptoms that are not caused by previously known medical reasons such as seasonal allergies. It is imperative that parents ensure they are following this protocol at home each morning and making it a part of the new morning routine. Parents have a significant role to play in helping us ensure that our school population remains healthy and it starts with the accurate completion of this self-assessment. Please use this link to complete the self-assessment https://covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment/. The School Board and/or your local Catholic school will provide all parents and secondary students directions on how to digitally confirm that your child has passed the screening. This verification will need to be completed for the first two weeks of the school year and at other times throughout the school year. A non-digital paper verification process will also be shared with families if that is a preferred method of verifying that the screening has been completed.
- Student Drop Off: We anticipate more parents will continue to drop off students to school. Individual schools should be sending parents detailed information regarding student drop off procedures which include the timeframe for when and where drop off can occur. Please keep in mind the following:
- We know this will be difficult for both parents and children, but we ask parents to refrain from entering the school yard even on the first day of school. Having discussions about this with your child prior to the start of school will help ease the transition.
- Please do not congregate at the gates for periods of time as we do not want to have large groups of people congregating, socializing and not being physically distant.
- If a child is being picked up for an appointment or for lunch and then being dropped back off at school, an additional self-assessment is needed before entering the school.
- If a child has a seat on a bus but it is not needed as he/she is being dropped off daily, please opt out of transportation using this link: https://forms.onthebus.ca/04-I-Like-To/Decline-Transportation
- Student Pick Up: This year there could continue to be more parents picking up students from school. Individual schools should be sending parents detailed information regarding student pick up procedures which include the timeframe for pick up and where the pick up can occur. Please keep in mind the following:
- Parents are no longer allowed to congregate at the gates for periods of time as we do not want to have large groups of people congregating and not being physically distant.
- If a child has a seat on a bus but it is not needed as he/she is being picked up daily, please opt out of transportation using this link: https://forms.onthebus.ca/04-I-Like-To/Decline-Transportation
- Class sizes and physical distancing: We are currently finalizing class lists and high school student timetables. While there has been no change to provincial class size regulations, we will continue to explore ways to have as much distance in class between pupils and have taken advice from the Renfrew County and District Health Unit on in-class strategies to be as safe as possible.
- Secondary Timetables: RCCDSB Secondary Schools will be operating a Modified Semester whereby students will only have two courses per day. One course in the am and one course in the pm for the duration of one week and then they will alternate to their other two courses on the following week. For example, Week A: Period 1 AM & Period 3 PM & Week B: Period 2 AM & Period 4 PM. This model will allow for our students to engage with their course work for a full semester as opposed to a quadmester.
- Masks: Masks are mandatory for students in Gr. 1 – 12. Should your child not have a mask, one will be provided for him/her. Only under certain circumstances, pupils may be exempt from wearing masks. If you wish to request an exemption for your son/daughter, please contact the school for further information. Please note that buffs or other face coverings are not an acceptable replacement for masks.
- We strongly recommend that children in kindergarten also wear a mask.
- We encourage all families to practice the self-management of masks (e.g, proper removal and proper putting on) prior to coming to school. In addition, we encourage families to wash the mask each day and at a minimum at the end of each week.
- Visitors: At this time, only essential visitors are permitted to enter the school. Self-screening must occur as well as signing in at the office indicating name, contact information, reason for visit and confirmation of screener completion. We will also gather a vaccine disclosure from our essential visitors.
- Hand Hygiene & Social Distancing: All students and staff will be engaging in hand hygiene and social distancing practices throughout the day. These procedures will be taught and patiently reinforced as a part of the routines at school. We would encourage families to also be practicing good hand hygiene as well as social distancing to help reinforce what is being taught at school.
- Recess Guidelines: Students will still be able to enjoy outdoor recess every day.
- Students will be assigned to specific cohorts outside, and distancing will be enforced between cohorts.
- Recess will be a time where masks will continue to be worn. Masks can only be removed when distancing of greater than 2 meters can be consistently maintained. We encourage all families to practice the self-management of masks (e.g, proper removal and proper putting on) prior to coming to school in order for a child to know how to safely store their mask on their person when outside and properly distanced.
- There may be specific physically distant “exit the school” and “line up procedures” to ensure students enter the school yard and re-enter the school in a safe manner.
- Certain equipment such as the Gaga Pit might be closed and some physical games could be off limits as well.
- Lunch guidelines: In most of our schools, students will be eating in their classroom as physically distanced as possible from others. In some schools, shared spaces such as cafeterias and lunchrooms will be open with various protocols in place (e.g., seating distanced apart).
- Lockers: Lockers and Kindergarten cubbies will be used.
A separate media release has been issued that details the extensive ventilation work that has been completed across all RCCDSB schools throughout the summer months. Please be assured that any instructional spaces that do not have a fully mechanical ventilation system will be furnished with HEPA filter units.
All children born in 2009 are eligible to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. For up-to-date information on vaccine clinics across Renfrew County please visit rcdhu.com. Please also note that student vaccine clinics will also be held within Bishop Smith Catholic High School and St. Joseph’s Catholic High School. The dates of these clinics will be well communicated with parents/guardian and students under the age of 18 will need signed consent forms from their parent/guardian to receive the vaccine during the instructional day.
If a Student is Fully Vaccinated
If your child is fully vaccinated and is exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19, they do not need to self-isolate as long as they do not have symptoms and are not directed otherwise by RCDHU.
If a Student is Not Vaccinated
If your child is not vaccinated and is exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 and is considered a high-risk contact, they will be required to isolate for ten days as directed by RCDHU. RCCDSB schools will work with RCDHU and follow their direction.
As per the Ministry of Education directive, all School Board staff are required to:
- provide proof of complete vaccination against COVID-19 by September 7; or
- provide a documented medical reason for not being vaccinated against COVID-19, or
- be tested regularly and participate in a vaccination education program.
This requirement applies to all School Board employees, School Board Trustees, student transportation drivers, frequent essential visitors and other professionals who deliver school services. An individual’s vaccination status is private information and is not permitted to be disclosed. By September 15th, all School Boards in Ontario will post on their websites non-identifying data indicating the percentage of staff across the School Board who have not been fully vaccinated.
Physical Education & Inter School Sports Activities
Students can participate in all sports indoors if properly masked. Students can participate in all sports outdoors if properly masked. When playing sports outdoors, students may remove masks if a) the sports are not high intensity and b) Physical Distancing can be guaranteed and maintained at all times.
Clubs, activities, sports teams, bands and other extra-curricular activities are permitted both indoors and outdoors however masks will need to be worn. Please note that the use of wind instruments is not permitted indoors, only outdoors with distancing maintained between cohorts.
Other Operational Notes
- Staggered Entry: At this time, we are planning for all RCCDSB students in Gr. 1- 12 to start school on Tuesday, September 7th, 2021. Year 1 (Junior Kindergarten) and Year 2 (Senior Kindergarten) students will have a staggered entry. Individual schools will be contacting Kindergarten parents with the staggered entry dates for their child.
- School Cash Online: Families are strongly encouraged to sign up for School Cash Online to ensure that any money required to come into the school is not having to be handled by multiple people. If you are unable to sign up for School Cash Online, please speak to your principal.
- Communication With Parents: With a few exceptions which will be identified by the principal, parents can expect communication to occur via the following methods from teachers or from the office:
- Phone call, email, Google Meet, Remind App or Seesaw App (individual classrooms and/or school), Communication book / Agenda, School Messenger (for attendance and mass communication to all parents from the school), Facebook pages (school, RCCDSB, RCJTC) and/or Twitter (school, RCCDSB, RCJTC)
- School Supplies Checklist: Students should come to school with the following items clearly labelled:
- Lunch kit (holding snacks and lunch)
- Indoor shoes (will remain at school)
- Water bottle (to be cleaned each day at home)
- Personal electronic device where applicable
- Change of clothes for Kindergarten students
- Mask for students in Gr. 1-12 (mandatory)
- Mask for students in Kindergarten (recommended)
**All other school supplies will be provided by the school (e.g., duotangs, pencils etc.)
- A Few Routines Returning When Schools Deem Appropriate:
- Milk programs, hot lunches, fundraising and extra-curricular activities
- Transportation: Information has indicated that school buses will be transporting students to and from school at their regular capacity. There are also significant guidelines for students riding on the bus:
- The Covid Self-Assessment needs to be completed before getting on the bus. (See Self-Screening Section above for more information).
- Masks have to be worn for students in Gr. 1-12 and are strongly recommended for kindergarten
- There will be assigned seating and students are unable to make changes to this arrangement.
- All other regular school bus rules still apply (e.g., no eating, no standing or switching seats etc.)
- If a student is showing symptoms at school, he/she will not be permitted to get on the bus for the ride home. Arrangements will have to be made for personal pick up.
We are truly looking forward to getting back to school and are confident we can welcome our students back into a strong learning school environment that is loving, nurturing and safe for all.
This is what Yahweh asks of you: only this, to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8.