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COVID-19 – Coronavirus Updates

Ongoing Updates
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
COVID 19 Web Resources
Ontario Ministry of Health COVID – 19 Information Sheet (Translated)

For information and resources to assist in learning at home, please click on the WCDSBLearn@Home image.  

CoronavirusUpdate

Ongoing Updates

Minister of Education Letter to Parents – March 31 2020

Special Message from the Chair of the Board & Director of Education

March 31, 2020

Dear Waterloo Catholic Community –

We hope that you and your family are well and staying healthy.  Today we learned, that as a key part of the Government of Ontario response to the COVID19 crisis, that the closure to schools is extending to May 1st, 2020.  The government will continue to monitor the situation and further extensions or updates may occur.  We reiterate, that these decisions are being informed by a concern for preserving the health and safety of all, and in this regard we know that each of us shares a common goal.  Realizing that this extension of the closure was likely, and as previously communicated, both the provincial Ministry of Education and locally here at Waterloo Catholic, we have been preparing for remote teacher-led learning.

Today the Ministry released a memo that provides explicit guidance to all of us about expectations for learning.  It provides an outline of the number of hours teachers and students should engage in learning – based on their grade level.  To be clear – the suggested hours reflect both the time a teacher might use in providing formal instruction or guidance, as well as the time the student will spend completing the learning task or activity.  There is not a firm expectation that all students have to be “online” at the exact same time, although in some cases that might happen on occasion.

Both Waterloo Catholic and the Ministry of Education have been thoughtful about matters of equity, as they apply to access to technology, to internet, language barriers, students with special needs and varying home environments.  All to say – this is not a “business as usual” learning environment but at Waterloo Catholic we will strive to do our very best to ensure each student feels valued and is connected to learning.  One thing we are doing in this regard is working on Chromebook distribution to those families who indicated the need for a learning device.  Your local school will provide more detail if you are an affected family.  Deployment is happening this week.  That said – at Waterloo Catholic, our number one priority will be ensuring that each child experiences connection and that they know their teacher cares.

We would also like to draw attention to the fact that while there will be consistent expectations for students in the same grade, that optional, additional activities will also be made available to all students.  On our WCDSB board website you will find from our home page a link to WDCSBLearn@Home where a host of additional resources for all learners will be found.  We also encourage you to continue to follow the #STEAMDays hashtag where lots of fun and engaging activities are being posted.

We understand that there is added anxiety for students who are in senior grades of high school or in graduating years.  This too is something to which we are very attuned.  The Ministry has provided some direction today and there will be ongoing conversations and plans that will be communicated in relation to these students.  Certainly there is an intent that no student on track to graduate – or any student – should be negatively impacted by the current public health crisis.

Finally – we encourage you to closely follow any and all directives from our governments and Region of Waterloo Public Health.  As a global community – we have never been more connected by an event or issue and now is the time to do everything we can to ensure we can soon return to life as we knew it not so long ago.  We wish your family good health as we look ahead to Holy Week.  Please continue to remain confident that we are here to support you, as we walk together as a hope-filled community.  Our faith will be a source of comfort and strength, as will the sure knowledge that after the pain and heartache of Good Friday, comes the hope, joy and new life of Easter.

Sincerely,

Loretta Notten                                                Bill Conway

Director of Education                                  Chair of the Board

Special Message from the Chair of the Board & Director of Education

March 24, 2020

Dear Parents / Caregivers –

Since last we reached out to you, the global situation in relation to COVID-19 has continued to worsen and here at home we have seen unprecedented actions taken by our federal and provincial governments.  As you know, schools are now closed and it would appear that this will stretch beyond the Easter weekend, although exactly when we might return to face to face learning is not yet clear.  These decisions are being informed by a concern for preserving the health and safety of all, and in this regard we know that each of us shares this common goal.  Nonetheless, the news that students will be home indefinitely may be disconcerting to you and your child.

We want to assure you that at the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, we will be working to the best of our ability and in collaboration with the province, to ensure that your child is connected to learning opportunities.  We will use the initial two weeks for the board to support our teachers in establishing at least an initial contact with all of their students through the most appropriate means possible, including mail, phone, email or other channel.  We will try to use this time to establish what is needed to support teacher-led learning and to aid you as families, to the best of our abilities under the circumstances.

We also want to acknowledge that this could be a time of great uncertainty and anxiety for our students.  We would encourage you to visit our board website where a number of resources can be found that may be helpful to you or your child, as you navigate this time.  We are also truly blessed to have our faith and prayer to aid us at this time.  Our God walks with us always and the Holy Father reminds us that prayer is a sign that we are not alone.

While we are in the process of “gearing up”, we would remind parents that WCDSB has launched #STEAMDays, a fun and interactive way to be connected to activities that have a daily focus on science, technology, engineering, the arts or mathematics.  Further, the Ministry of Education has launched the website Learn at Home and you are encouraged to visit that site for learning activities.

Finally – we encourage you to closely follow any and all directives from our governments and Region of Waterloo Public Health.  As a global community – we have never been more connected by an event or issue and now is the time to do everything we can to ensure we can soon return to life as we knew it not so long ago.  We wish your family good health.  Remain confident that we are here to support you, as we walk as a hope-filled community of faith toward the season of Easter and the re-birth it brings.

Sincerely,

Loretta Notten                                                              Bill Conway

Director of Education                                                  Chair of the Board

Cancellation of EQAO Testing & Introduction of WCDSB #STEAMDays

March 19, 2020

The COVID-19 situation in Ontario is continuing to evolve and WCDSB is committed to keeping you informed. As updates are available or new questions emerge, we are posting to our Board website.  We encourage you to continue checking there for updates.

Please be aware that the Minister of Education has provided direction to cancel all Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) assessments for the 2019-20 school year. The Minister has also directed that the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) be waived as a graduation requirement, as set out in Section 6 of Ontario Schools, Kindergarten to Grade 12: Policy and Program Requirements, 2016, for students who are otherwise able to graduate in the 2019-20 school year. These changes provide the conditions to enable students to fulfill graduation requirements in our current context.

The government and WCDSB remain committed to ensuring learning will continue for our students. The Ministry and WCDSB will be posting online learning resources, and we encourage you to stay tuned for more about this resource and other distance learning supports and opportunities.

At WCDSB we are also launching #STEAMDays – a fun and interactive way to keep the learning happening at home as we work our way through the unprecedented COVID-19 shutdown.

Please view the VIDEO to learn more.

In times like these, it is vital for one and all to come together – and #STEAMDays will provide a convenient platform for parents and educators alike to share ideas, resources and fun ways to keep the learning process going.

As ideas are shared, we will gather some of them and post via our website: www.wcdsb.ca/STEAMDays

Please visit on social media via:

Twitter: @WCDSBNewswire #STEAMDays

Facebook: @wcdsb #STEAMDays

Instagram: @waterloocdsb #STEAMDays

COVID-19 Update from Waterloo Region Municipalities: Facility closures and program cancellations

Sunday March 15, 2020

Waterloo Region – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve around the world and in our local community, the health and wellbeing of Waterloo Region residents remains our top priority. All area municipalities continue to work closely with the Region of Waterloo’s Public Health experts to monitor and respond to new developments.

Late evening on Friday, March 13th, the Province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health provided updated guidance to support public health units in managing and responding to this ongoing issue. Based on this update, Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, Region of Waterloo Public Health’s Acting Medical Officer of Health, has recommended an increased emphasis on social distancing in order to slow the spread of the virus within the community.

In response, the Region and all area municipalities are making significant changes to services and programming, effective immediately.  These changes will remain in effect until April 5, and will be evaluated for potential extension beyond that date:

Facility Closures

All municipally-run cultural and recreational facilities will be closed to the public from March 16 to April 5. This includes all arenas, pools, community centres and public libraries.

Program Cancellations

Day Camps

The Province has issued guidance to licensed childcare providers which requires active screening for program participants, staff and volunteers. Municipally-run children’s programs, including March Break day camps, do not have the capacity or resources to enact this recommended practice; as a result, all municipally-run day camps will be canceled from March 16 to April 5.

Recreation Programs and Activities

All recreation programs and activities offered in municipal facilities including community centres, pools, etc. are cancelled from March 16 to April 5.  Refunds will be provided to registrants for municipally-run programs. Resident are encouraged to contact their respective municipality for more information.

Public Libraries and municipally-operated museums and galleries

Kitchener, Cambridge, Waterloo and the Region of Waterloo rural library system along with municipally-operated museums and galleries will be closed to the public effective March 16 to April 5.

Municipal Farmers Markets

Local municipalities recognize that our municipally-operated farmers markets (Kitchener Market and Cambridge Farmers’ Market) are an important food source for residents. For that reason, we will be investigating whether or not they can continue to operate while ensuring that a suitable level of social distancing can be achieved consistent with the guidance received from the Medical Officer of Health. A decision about whether or not they will be closed will be made prior to Saturday, March 21.

For more information and to find details related to specific closures and cancellations, visit your respective municipal website.

Other Municipal Services

Residents are encouraged to delay any non-essential business with their respective municipality or to consider conducting business online or by phone, where possible.

All emergency services and essential regional and municipal services will continue.

Parks, trails and outdoor spaces

All municipal parks, fields, trails and outdoor spaces will remain open and available for residents to enjoy.

These are challenging times for our community, and the residents and businesses our municipalities proudly serve.

As organizations, we recognize that the pace at which decisions and changes are occurring is disruptive and disconcerting, and that these decisions may have significant impact on those we serve. We regret the disruption these changes will have; however the safety and wellbeing of our residents and our community at large is our top priority.  Based on the recommendations of our regional, provincial and federal health care leaders, we believe these decisions are in the best interest of our communities, and our collective health.

For more information on closures and cancellations across Waterloo Region, visit:

www.regionofwaterloo.ca
www.kitchener.ca
www.waterloo.ca
www.cambridge.ca
www.woolwich.ca
www.wilmot.ca
www.wellesley.ca
www.northdumfries.ca

March 13, 2020

As a result of the Government of Ontario’s order for all publicly funded schools in Ontario to remain closed from March 14, 2020 to April 5, 2020 (https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/03/title.html), the Waterloo Catholic District School Board is taking the following actions to further assist in limiting the spread of COVID-19:

  • Effective March 14, 2020 to April 5, 2020 all WCDSB schools (including all St. Louis Adult Education campuses) are closed.
  • Effective March 16 all Extended Day programs are cancelled. Families registered in WCDSB operated programs will not be charged fees during this time period.
  • Effective March 14, 2020 to April 5, 2020 all Community Use of Schools permits are cancelled.
  • WCDSB Co-op placements, Dual Credit and SWAC programs are cancelled.
  • The March 23, 2020 public meeting of the Board of Trustees is cancelled. Any delegations pertaining to the St. John CES Boundary Review will be received as planned on Monday, April 6 at the regularly-scheduled Board Meeting, and again at a Special Public Board Meeting on Monday, April 20, 2020.
  • The March 26, 2020 Blessing & Dedication ceremony for the newly-renovated Waterloo Region Catholic Education Centre is postponed to a later date to be determined.

The safety and wellbeing of our students and staff is always our top priority, and we will continue working with local Public Health staff to ensure our schools remain clean, safe and welcoming in anticipation of the resumption of school in April. We encourage everyone to remain vigilant regarding hand hygiene and cough / sneeze etiquette and to follow all Public Health guidance and directives.

We ask all WCDSB stakeholders to continue monitoring our special COVID-19 web page for up-to-date information (https://www.wcdsb.ca/covid-19-coronavirus-updates/)  — and our prayers continue for all those around the world who have been or will be affected by COVID-19.

March 12, 2020

Statement on Closure of Schools

The government’s order for all publicly funded schools in Ontario to remain closed from March 14, 2020 to April 5, 2020 will remove a lot of student and staff uncertainty about COVID-19 and concern about implications for schools. We believe this action is in the best interests of the health of Ontarians.

The safety and wellbeing of our students and staff is always our top priority, and we will continue working with local Public Health staff to ensure our schools remain clean, safe and welcoming in anticipation of the resumption of school in April. We encourage everyone to remain vigilant regarding hand hygiene and cough / sneeze etiquette and to follow all Public Health guidance and directives.

In the meantime, we ask all WCDSB stakeholders to continue monitoring our special COVID-19 web page for up-to-date information (https://www.wcdsb.ca/covid-19-coronavirus-updates/)  — and our prayers continue for all those around the world who have been or will be affected by COVID-19.

March 11, 2020

Region of Waterloo Public Health – COVID-19 Letter to Parents and Guardians

March 9, 2020

Dear Parents I Caregivers:

As the spread of the new COVID 19 virus in countries around the world continues to make news, you may be wondering about how we are working to prevent and mitigate the spread of illness in our schools, and how we are preparing for the potential of additional cases of the virus to emerge in Waterloo Region. The current risk level in Waterloo Region remains LOW.

As a school system we understand that the emergence of COVID 19 is concerning and we want to reassure you that, as always, the health and well being of our students and staff is our top priority. We are in close and regular contact with public health experts from Region of Waterloo Public Health & Emergency Services to ensure we have all the most up-to-date, factual information available concerning COVD 19.

Similarly, we work in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health, as well as other educational partners in the exchange of information.

At this time, Public Health advises the following steps to be followed by residents of Waterloo Region:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and/or cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm, not into your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Avoid misinformation. Region of Waterloo Public Health continues to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information’ on their website so that you have the information you need to make informed decisions about your health: regionofwaterloo.ca/2019NovelCoronavirus

We are following all the above guidelines with our own staff and we hope you will join us in promoting these strong habits with your own children.

We will keep you informed as new information becomes available or if the situation regarding COVID 19 changes in Waterloo Region. We are confident that if we follow the sound advice and practices that have been advocated, we will be as prepared as we can be and that our schools will remain safe and healthy places to learn and grow.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. They can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). Some transmit easily from person to person while others do not. COVID-19 is a new disease that has not been previously identified in humans.*

Those with COVID-19 may have little to no symptoms. You may not know you have symptoms of COVID-19 because they are similar to a cold or flu. Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19. Symptoms have included:

  • fever
  • cough
  • difficulty breathing
  • pneumonia in both lungs

In severe cases, infection can lead to death.*

Human coronaviruses cause infections of the nose, throat and lungs. They are most commonly spread from an infected person through:

  • respiratory droplets that are spread when you cough or sneeze
  • close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands*

If you are a healthy individual, the use of a mask is not necessary. It is not recommended that healthy people or people who have not travelled to a COVID-19-affected area wear masks. Wearing a mask when you are not ill and are not at high risk for developing symptoms may give a false sense of security. Masks can easily become contaminated and need to be changed frequently and fitted properly for them to provide adequate protection. You can stay healthy and prevent the spread of infections by:

  • washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
  • avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • coughing or sneezing into your sleeve and not your hands
  • staying home if you are sick to avoid spreading illness to others*

No, there is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19.*

No, the flu vaccine does not protect against COVID-19.*

* Source: Public Health Agency of Canada

SARS CoV 2 (COVID-19) Web Resources

For more information for educators, parents, and students on supporting positive student mental health during the covid-19 crisis please visit:

https://smho-smso.ca/covid-19/

For more general information on mental health, coping strategies and Waterloo Region mental health services please visit

https://www.wcdsb.ca/programs-and-services/mental-health-and-well-being-at-wcdsb/

World Health Organization (WHO)

Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)

Ontario Ministry of Health

Region of Waterloo Public Health & Emergency Services

Ontario Ministry of Health COVID – 19 Information Sheet (Translated)

The Ministry of Health has developed an information sheet about the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to inform Ontarians about the virus, how they can protect themselves and what to do if they think they have contracted the 2019 novel coronavirus. The information sheet is available in multiple languages.