Plan for Re-Opening Schools

WCDSB SchoolAt Waterloo Catholic we have missed seeing our staff and students in our schools – and we think that you would agree.  We also know however, that all of us feel very strongly that if we are to return to our schools, we have to do so in a very safe and thoughtful manner.  What follows is a high-level introduction to all of the factors we have been considering as we plan for the return of students.  We know that we all want good learning to happen, but we are equally motivated to ensure that all our staff and students are feeling both safe and healthy, in mind, body and spirit.

COVID-19 Advisories

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Operational Guidelines
Important Back-to-School Information
Return to School Videos

We have been working diligently with Waterloo Region Public Health, the Ministry of Education and their connections to the Chief Medical Officer of Health for the province, as well as other community and stakeholder colleagues to ensure a plan that is thoughtful and responsive.  As a board we were asked to prepare models for three different scenarios:  learning that continues to be fully remote, an adapted model where physical distancing and cohorting (or bubbling) is observed and a conventional model with enhanced protocols.  While we are opening in a conventional scenario in elementary and an adapted scenario in secondary, but we are ready with very short notice to pivot to one of the other scenarios if necessary and asked to do so.

This webpage provides an overview and framework for our reopening of schools at Waterloo Catholic.  We hope that it provides you with the confidence to return to school knowing that we are making our very best efforts to ensure the health and well-being of all.  This document is just a beginning and more communication and details will continue to be forthcoming as we journey toward September and beyond. There has been a change in the school year calendar, at the request of the Minister, and we have added a third PA Day on September 1st, which will assist staff in being ready for the return of students under our new reality.

We know that just as things have continued to evolve since March 13th when we left our classrooms, things are likely to continue changing and evolving.  We will be nimble and always respond to the latest information from public health and the Ministry.  Our Board website and this web page https://www.wcdsb.ca/plan-for-re-opening-schools/ will be the best place to find all relevant updates.

Our Guiding Principles

The decisions that have informed our plan have been challenging and thus it was necessary to have some key guiding principles by which to make those decisions.  Each of the following lenses have played a significant role in our decision making.  At the top of the list you will find the need to respect health and safety of our staff and students.  We know this is the top priority for all involved and justifiably so.

Health and Safety

To ensure our learning and work environments have been set up to succeed and to minimize risk for all involved.

Student Centered – Learning Continuity / Well-Being

To ensure that opportunity for learning and well-being are optimized, given the departure from our protocols, pedagogy and patterns for relationship, as we knew them before.

Equity

To ensure all of our students will be able to learn in every scenario and to feel supported in that learning journey.

Consultation

To ensure and understand preferences, concerns and desires, we consulted with our stakeholders, for example Administrators, Unions (to the degree possible), Parents, Ministry of Education.

Human Resources

To ensure the best circumstances for staffing to be present and available, in a safe and reliable manner.

Adaptability

To ensure our ability to seamlessly “pivot” between different scenarios, given that we don’t know what the year ahead will bring.

Communication Protocols

School Principals and the Board’s Communication Department will communicate regularly with students and their parents or guardians as we return to school in the fall.  Our board is making the transition to School Messenger as the primary tool for updates, but you can always find relevant updates on our website at this web page https://www.wcdsb.ca/plan-for-re-opening-schools/ and both the WCDSB Communication department, the Director of Education and the schools make use of Twitter to share system messaging.

Our many education partners have been part of the process of creating viable operational solutions. Flexibility and innovation are required to come up with unique solutions as we work together through the pandemic.

Parents considering registering their child can be reassured that we will be flexible in terms of options for the fall.  While it is our sincere hope that all students will feel comfortable in returning, there is an option to access distance learning, if that is a family preference.

There are still unresolved questions from our union and association partners. We will not return to the status quo system, so we will need to work together to find solutions that will serve our students while addressing the existing collective agreements that were not created for pandemic conditions.  Those dialogues continue and will inform our planning.

We know that this pandemic has brought with it complex challenges that will require creative solutions.

Our parent community will have many unique family situations and work commitments that they need to navigate. We have attempted to be as thoughtful as possible in this regard, and have worked with both the public board and transportation consortium to arrive at a solution that had fidelity to our guiding principles and was aligned.  This plan will not be able to meet every individual situation. We will work to find creative solutions designed to help as many families as possible so that they can manage their competing demands of work, school and family needs.  We recognize that returning to school five days a week for all students will address the greatest number of family needs in our community.

We also know that some of our students with special needs will continue to face challenges and obstacles to learning during a pandemic, given the realities of physical distance requirements.  We will work with each family to try and find a solution that meets their child’s needs while keeping them, and others at the school safe. Our staff and students’ health and safety will be at the center of all our decisions. If, at any point, we are directed to limit attendance to half of the school population at a time, family members will be scheduled to attend school on the same days in an adapted learning model.

Health and Safety

The health and well-being of our staff and students is our top priority. It has been a primary lens for all decisions, including but not limited to programming, busing, site and school operations, and staff and student assignments.

  1. Sites
    1. Signage and physical building markings will be installed prior to school start up. Each school is unique and will need to be individually assessed for needs. Building flow will be a primary consideration. Signage, where appropriate, will take the form of pictures and use languages specific to school communities.
    2. Younger students who cannot read and will be unfamiliar with the site will be provided with training materials prior to attending schools (target families) and when students are in school, further orientation will be provided to all.
    3. Sneeze guards will be installed in the main office and learning commons prior to school start up. Each school will also be provided with portable sneeze guards to be used for assessments, guidance, and other similar close contact situations.
    4. Classrooms will be reviewed, and all unnecessary/optional items will be removed to ensure cleaning routines are manageable.
    5. In adapted or conventional return, administrators may wish to give attention to placing larger classes in larger classroom/school spaces.
    6. Where feasible, elementary schools may implement multiple recess periods to ensure distancing can be respected.
    7. Teaching staff will consider student seating in classrooms where collaborative tables are present to ensure distancing requirements are respected to the best of our ability.
    8. Windows should be opened when and where feasible to allow for fresh air to circulate in classrooms and workspaces.
    9. Hand sanitizer will be provided in high traffic areas such as the main office or where hand washing is not easily accessible. Each classroom or learning space will be stocked with hand sanitizer. Hand washing will be reinforced as the key strategy to utilize to maintain good hygiene.
    10. Custodians will ensure a thorough wipe down of all touch surfaces on a daily basis and high touch areas multiple times a day.
    11. Community Use of Schools (facility rentals) will not be available until further notice.
    12. Play structures are closed until TBD.
    13. Indoor permits under Community Use of Schools will continue to be on hold.
    14. Visitors, including volunteers and parents are discouraged from coming into schools. On rare occasions when they do enter, they will be required to wear a mask.
    15. Lockers will not be available until further notice.
  1. Staff
    1. All staff are required to engage in a daily self-assessment before reporting to work and anyone feeling unwell or identifying a concern based on their self-assessment should not report to work. Absences for this reason should be reported in Smart Find as “sick leave”. Please note that normal reporting requirements continue to apply and medical notes will be required on the fifth (5th) consecutive day of absence.
      At the current time the recommended self-assessment tool is from the Province. If WR Public Health provides a tool – that will be shared with staff and students. COVID-19 School Screening Tool: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/
    2. A protocol for each employee group working in schools will be developed.
    3. All staff within schools will be required to wear masks. Reasonable exceptions will apply.
    4. Staff meetings will take place remotely regardless of the scenario or model under which we are operating, unless there is the opportunity to maintain full and complete physical distancing.
    5. Use of educator and staff work rooms will be largely discouraged, but staff rooms will be reconfigured to allow for physical distancing when they must be accessed. Students will not be permitted in teacher workrooms or staff rooms.
    6. Staff/ employees who may need a medical accommodation in the workplace are to consult with Human Resources. Teachers who are on a medical accommodation, preventing them from regular class instruction may be assigned to daily online instruction and check-ins with students. A form that may be completed and submitted to HR requesting a medical accommodation will be sent under separate cover to all employees by the end of the week of August 4th, 2020.
  1. Students
    1. All students (or guardians on their behalf) will be asked to engage in a daily self-assessment before reporting to work and anyone feeling unwell or identifying a concern based on their self-assessment should not report to work.
    2. All students from grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear masks. Reasonable exceptions will apply. Students in grades kindergarten to 3 will be encouraged to wear masks.
    3. Each elementary student will be provided with a learning kit/bag. This bag will contain basic school supplies (filled by classroom teacher). Contents will be standardized based on grade level. Further, messaging will be provided to families on items that each student should bring with a goal to minimize student sharing.
  1. Transportation
    1. All bus drivers will be provided with PPE by bus operators.
    2. Students in JK to grade 3 are strongly encouraged to wear masks on buses. Students in grades 4 to 12 must wear masks on buses.
    3. With a conventional return to school, student numbers on buses will be as per normal.
    4. In the event of the “Adapted Model” being the scenario under implementation, school buses will be confined to 1 student per seat, unless the additional student is a family member. This will lead to 24 students (plus any family members) being the maximum number on a bus.
    5. In the event of the adapted model, cohorts have been developed by STSWR and they are based on geographic location to facilitate optimization of routes.
  1. Basic Hygiene and Cleaning
    1. Medical grade masks will be provided to all staff where distancing cannot be ensured.
    2. PPE will be available for EAs, PSWs, and CYCWs who work with high needs students.
    3. Additional PPE will be available for other staff where intimate contact is required.
    4. Training will be provided for all staff. Specific training will also be provided to staff who need PPE to do their jobs.
    5. In lieu of additional hand washing stations, sanitizer will be provided for school occupants in classrooms, common areas, main office areas, and at the entrance(s) to each site.
  1. Outbreak Protocol
    1. We have received – and are closely following – the Government of Ontario’s outbreak protocols for School Boards and Public Health Units:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Government of Ontario Guidance for School Boards re Managing COVID-19                                                                                              Government of Ontario Guidance for Public Health Units re Managing COVID-19
    2. Each school will know what protocol to follow if a student or staff member presents as being unwell and further, how to respond if there is an “outbreak” where a person is identified as having contracted COVID-19.
    3. There is always the possibility of a return to distance learning if an outbreak forces a school to be closed for a lengthy period of time. In preparation for continuity of learning, all staff will be advised on available board level tools that may be used for distance learning. Three professional development days have been arranged before the start of the school year to provide staff time to prepare for consistent use of Board platforms, including the new Parent portal for communication, the Brightspace D2L and Google classroom Learning Management System, and Microsoft Teams for video conferencing.

The Return to Learning

As mentioned, we know that staff and students are both excited to return to face to face learning, but also want reassurances that they will be safe and remain healthy.  Administrators will be supported in understanding all the precautions and new processes that will be required to maintain optimal safe conditions in their building.  Administrators in turn will communicate with parents closer to the start of school and teachers will be trained in all new expectations in the week before we welcome students back.

We know that some students will have found this time of the pandemic to be traumatic and/or challenging in terms of their mental well-being.  We have social work support continuing throughout the summer and as we head into the new school year a focus on whole student well being will be a focus.  Resources are widely available to staff and students, provided by School Mental Health Assist and every effort will be made to ensure all staff and students feel supported.  Our board well-being plan is also being updated to reflect this focus.

Equity

At Waterloo Catholic it is extremely important to us that all students feel positioned to learn and to succeed.  Over the course of the summer and into the new year staff are spending time preparing differentiated supports for our students with special needs, as well as our English Language learners that require support.  Efforts have been made last spring, and will continue, to determine any situation where a student is potentially disadvantaged in their ability to access distance learning.  Equity is one of the key guiding principles we have applied in making our decisions for the 2020-2021 school year, and while challenges exist, we are committed to providing the resources and supports to find success for each and a place for all.

Students with Health Conditions

Some students will not be able to take part in the in-person component of returning to school due to their chronic health conditions.  For this group of students, distance learning solutions will continue.

We are recommending that if your child is medically fragile, immune compromised or has chronic or persistent health conditions that you speak with your health care provider(s) to determine what mode of delivery is most appropriate for your child and what, if any, accommodations for your child’s health needs might be required.  Whether your child’s return to school is conventional or adapted, it is important that your child’s health care provider(s) is consulted to ensure your child’s physical health needs are considered as we plan for a return to school during the COVID Pandemic.

Realizing that we all share the common goal for a healthy community, parents/guardians are asked to keep their children at home if they are displaying any signs of illness.  If a staff member or student of a school is identified with COVID-19, then the principal will notify Waterloo Region Public Health and work in full cooperation with them to ensure proper contact tracing.

Basic Models for Return to School

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board (and all school boards) have been asked to prepare 3 different scenarios for return.  They are:   Fully Remote, Adapted – with smaller class sizes and Conventional Return with enhanced protocols.  Below is an overview of how we intend to implement these three models – when and if we are called upon to do so.

Conventional School
Adapted School

Elementary – Conventional

(The scenario under which WCDSB elementary schools will open)

  • Full days; every day
  • Physical distancing will be observed to the extent possible (e.g., students and staff will remain 1 metre apart)
  • Itinerant teachers and prep time teachers will maintain their usual schedule.
  • Recess will require special consideration; if student population warrants, and school yards and supervision allow – staggered recess periods will be utilized.
  • Staff meetings are still remote where social distancing cannot be observed
  • Nutrition for Learning would utilize big box deliveries for distribution; no volunteers would be packaging snacks/food in the school.

Elementary – Adapted

  • Classes are divided into 2 sub-groups or “cohorts” and access face to face learning ½ the time.
  • Physical distancing will be observed in the classroom (e.g., students and staff will remain 2 metre apart)
  • Students observe a 5-7 model of 5 days in school in a row, over a weekend, and then 5 days of learning remotely from home for 7 days – including a weekend.
  • Itinerant (or prep time teachers such as French and music) deliver lessons synchronously, potentially on some of the days when learning remotely.
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Week 1 A A A B B
Week 2 B B B A A
Week 3 A A A B B
Week 4 B B B A A

Elementary Remote 

St. Isidore students will be assigned to qualified WCDSB educators and will be with other same grade children in a Virtual Learning classroom. During remote learning, students and parents will be provided with a daily schedule or timetable that includes 300 minutes of learning opportunities, with a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning activities. In grades 1-8 there will be a minimum of 225 synchronous learning each day. Synchronous learning for Kindergarten students will be 180 minutes each day.

Sample Schedules

Kindergarten

Time
8:30 – 9:30 Opening Community Building and Curriculum – all students
9:30 – 9:45 Break
9:45 – 10:30 JK away from screen (asynchronous learning)/ SK in class
10:30 – 10:45 Break
10:45 – 11:30 SK away from screen (asynchronous learning) JK in class
11:30 – 12:15 Lunch
12:15 – 1:00 Curriculum – all students
1:00 – 1:15 Break
1:15 – 1:45 Curriculum/ Community Building/ Wellness
1:45 – 3:00 Asynchronous learning as appropriate

Grades 1-8

Time
8:30 – 9:30 Opening Community Building and Curriculum
9:30 – 9:45 Break
9:45 – 10:30 Curriculum
10:30 – 10:45 Break
10:45 – 11:30 Curriculum
11:30 – 12:15 Lunch
12:15 – 1:00 Curriculum
1:00 – 1:15 Break
1:15 – 1:45 Curriculum/ Community Building/ Wellness
1:45 – 3:00 Asynchronous learning

Teachers will be available to students at all times during the teachers’ assigned teaching timetables, as they would be if they were face-to-face in a classroom setting.

Programming must be based on the full Ontario curriculum and include opportunities for synchronous guided instruction, large- and small-group learning, and asynchronous independent work. A framework for Learning Design has been provided to support teachers in planning virtual teaching and learning activities.

Curriculum expectations will be assessed, evaluated and reported on an ongoing basis following Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting in Ontario Schools with an emphasis on descriptive feedback focused on conversations and observations in addition to the collection of student work submitted electronically or by mail.

Where students with learning exceptionalities are not able to participate fully in the virtual environment, accommodations and modification will be implemented, which may include learning kits and workbooks

Families will also be provided with technical support, which may include being loaned a learning device (I.e. Chromebook) to support students accessing the Learning Management System (D2L or Google Classroom).

Exemption Process for Synchronous (Real time) Learning

St Isidore staff will work with families who are not able to have their child(ren) participate in scheduled synchronous learning times. A process has been developed to allow for student exemption from synchronous learning. Please contact school Administration for more details on applying for this exemption.

Secondary Conventional

  • Model allows for 220 minutes of instruction per day (Our normal regular school day allows for 225 min for each teacher); students will have 82.5 hours of face to face instruction per term and 27.5 hours independent and remote
  • Teachers will have a common prep time in the afternoon; school day ends earlier but safety has been prioritized, limiting number of contacts and transition points in the day.
  • Each child will get a learning kit for all hands’ on activities – as would be the case in adapted
  • Teachers and students will have to be part of daily hygiene and surface cleaning (personal spaces)
  • Staff meetings will be remote
  • Parents and visitors to the school will be discouraged
School Day
Period 1 – Morning
110 minutes face to face
40-minute break with enhanced expectations for safety and distancing
Period 2 – Afternoon
110 minutes face to face

Secondary – Adapted

(The scenario under which WCDSB Secondary Schools will open)

  • Students are carrying 2 courses at any given time and in each day they have the opportunity for learning in at least one course through the synchronous lesson or both courses, if it is also their day for face to face instruction. (Term model)
  • Classes are divided into 2 sub-groups or “cohorts” and access face to face learning ½ the time.
  • Synchronous learning is when students are connected to their teachers remotely (in real time) for their instruction.  In most cases the students will connect from their home.
  • Physical distancing will be observed in the classroom (e.g., students and staff will remain 2 metre apart)
  • Students observe a 5-7 model of 5 days in school in a row, over a weekend, and then 5 days of learning remotely from home for 7 days – including a weekend.
  • For the 5 days where a cohort is learning at home and the other cohort is face to face in the morning, students will be engaged in 150 minutes of asynchronous independent learning each day.
  • Eld/ community living and active students/high needs students-can come every day… (5 of the 5 days)

Overview of who is attending face to face, week by week:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Week 1 A A A B B
Week 2 B B B A A
Week 3 A A A B B
Week 4 B B B A A

Overview of the day in Adapted model:

  • The morning class alternates between Period 1 and Period 2, as does the afternoon. In order to preserve the cohort, the same class and cohort will experience face to face for 5 days in a row.  It will take 10 days for both cohorts to complete a rotation of the period and then it will switch the other class.  Please see the 4 Week model below for a better understanding.
  • The morning class is 150 minutes face to face; the afternoon class is 75 minutes synchronous, followed by 75 minutes of asynchronous learning time used for small group work or individualized support and student work.
  • For the 5 days where a cohort is learning at home and the other cohort is face to face in the morning, students will be engaged in 150 minutes of asynchronous independent learning each day.

WEEK 1

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Period 1
Cohort A
F2Face
150 min
Period 1
Cohort A
F2Face
150 min
Period 1
Cohort A
F2Face
150 min
Period 1
Cohort B
F2Face
150 min
Period 1
Cohort B
F2Face
150 min
Travel Time

Allow 115 min

Travel Time

Allow 115 min

Travel Time

Allow 115 min

Travel Time

Allow 115 min

Travel Time

Allow 115 min

Period 2

Full Cohort
75 min Synch

75 min
Asynchronous

Period 2

Full Cohort
75 min Synch

75 min
Asynchronous

Period 2

Full Cohort
75 min Synch

75 min
Asynchronous

Period 2

Full Cohort
75 min Synch

75 min
Asynchronous

Period 2

Full Cohort
75 min Synch

75 min
Asynchronous

WEEK 2

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Period 1
Cohort B
F2Face
150 min
Period 1
Cohort B
F2Face
150 min
Period 1
Cohort B
F2Face
150 min
Period 2
Cohort A
F2Face
150 min
Period 2
Cohort A
F2Face
150 min
Travel Time

Allow 115 min

Travel Time

Allow 115 min

Travel Time

Allow 115 min

Travel Time

Allow 115 min

Travel Time

Allow 115 min

Period 2

Full Cohort
75 min Synch

75 min
Asynchronous

Period 2

Full Cohort
75 min Synch

75 min
Asynchronous

Period 2

Full Cohort
75 min Synch

75 min
Asynchronous

Period 1

Full Cohort
75 min Synch

75 min
Asynchronous

Period 1

Full Cohort
75 min Synch

75 min
Asynchronous

WEEK 3

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Period 2
Cohort A
F2Face
150 min
Period 2
Cohort A
F2Face
150 min
Period 2
Cohort A
F2Face
150 min
Period 2
Cohort B
F2Face
150 min
Period 2
Cohort B
F2Face
150 min
Travel Time

Allow 115 min

Travel Time

Allow 115 min

Travel Time

Allow 115 min

Travel Time

Allow 115 min

Travel Time

Allow 115 min

Period 1

Full Cohort
75 min Synch

75 min
Asynchronous

Period 1

Full Cohort
75 min Synch

75 min
Asynchronous

Period 1

Full Cohort
75 min Synch

75 min
Asynchronous

Period 1

Full Cohort
75 min Synch

75 min
Asynchronous

Period 1

Full Cohort
75 min Synch

75 min
Asynchronous

WEEK 4

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Period 2
Cohort B
F2Face
150 min
Period 2
Cohort B
F2Face
150 min
Period 2
Cohort B
F2Face
150 min
Period 1
Cohort A
F2Face
150 min
Period 1
Cohort A
F2Face
150 min
Travel Time

Allow 115 min

Travel Time

Allow 115 min

Travel Time

Allow 115 min

Travel Time

Allow 115 min

Travel Time

Allow 115 min

Period 1

Full Cohort
75 min Synch

75 min
Asynchronous

Period 1

Full Cohort
75 min Synch

75 min
Asynchronous

Period 1

Full Cohort
75 min Synch

75 min
Asynchronous

Period 2

Full Cohort
75 min Synch

75 min
Asynchronous

Period 2

Full Cohort
75 min Synch

75 min
Asynchronous

Secondary – Remote

St. Isidore students will be assigned to a qualified WCDSB teacher and will be taking 2 courses for 10 weeks in our quadmester model (4 times/ year).

During virtual learning, students and parents will be provided with a daily schedule or timetable that includes 300 minutes of learning opportunities, with a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning activities. To reflect the Adapted model in our Secondary schools, students will work on a week 1 week 2 schedule.

Sample Schedule

Week 1 Week 2
Morning Subject A 150 min Synchronous Subject B 150 Min Synchronous
Afternoon Subject B

75 min Synchronous plus 75 min Asynchronous learning

Subject A 75 min Synchronous plus 75 min Asynchronous learning

Teachers will always be available to students during the teachers’ assigned teaching timetables, as they would be if they were face-to-face in a classroom setting.

Programming will be based on the full Ontario curriculum and include opportunities for synchronous guided instruction, large- and small-group learning, and asynchronous independent work.

Curriculum expectations will be assessed, evaluated and reported on an ongoing basis following Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting in Ontario Schools with an emphasis on conversations and observations in addition to the collection of student work submitted electronically or by mail.

Where students with learning exceptionalities are not able to participate fully in the virtual environment, accommodations and modification will be implemented, which may include learning kits and workbooks.

Families will also be provided with technical support, which may include being loaned a learning device (I.e. Chromebook) to support students accessing the Learning Management System (D2L or Google Classroom).

Exemption Process for Synchronous (Real time) Learning

St Isidore staff will work with families who are not able to have their child(ren) participate in scheduled synchronous learning times. A process has been developed to allow for student exemption from synchronous learning. Please contact school Administration for more details on applying for this exemption.

Special Education

Meeting the needs of all our learners remains a priority. Included within this group are our students on an IEP and with special education needs. Further, our students with high special education needs have been given careful consideration with respect to full time attendance in an adapted model. We respect the decision of the parent whether or not they wish their child to attend full time.  We recognize that strengths and needs of all our students with Individual Education Plans is instrumental in ensuring their success.

Equity of access and ability to engage in meaningful learning has been a key consideration.  The following are steps that have been considered to ensure we are meeting the needs of all our learners:

  • All students will have the option to learn regardless of the model and can attend face to face if that is the selected model
  • In secondary in the adaptive return, all students in the community living program and the active program  will attend school everyday. Students with SIP designation will also attend everyday.
  • Kits are being created to support remote learning
  • Summer writing project to supplement paper and pen tasks are being created for the new school year
  • Summer transition program will be delivered in late August (Ministry funded)
  • All collaborative team meetings will continue remotely in the 2020-21 school year
  • Teachers will be encouraged to revise IEP according to the delivery mode and in consideration of student learning needs
  • Psych, SLP and Social Workers will continue assessments and individual support with students using an online platform
  • PPE will be provided for any staff working in close contact

Extended Day

Extended day programs will mirror what is happening in terms of the delivery of core classroom programming.  Below are the considerations under a Conventional or Adapted return.  In the event of a decision to move to fully remote learning, Extended Day programs will close.

Extended Day under a Conventional Return:

Extended Day Programs will be fully open with additional cleaning protocols.

Registration schedules will be opened by early August to allow time for families to confirm their schedules to ensure that WCDSB has the time to staff the program.

The 2 weeks’ notice period for all changes will be removed until August 31, 2020 to allow for families to create their scheduling care needs. Beginning September 1, 2020, the 2 weeks’ notice period will be enforced.

Sharing of materials will be minimized and kept separate from those used by the day school classes.

Parents will be required to wear a mask when entering the school building to drop off and pick up students at extended day classroom.  Parents will sign in and out for tracing purposes and hand sanitizer will be available at sign in area.

Extended Day under an Adapted Return:

Extended Day Program registration will be available to families for the days students attend school. This would require families to know their child’s school schedule before confirming care needs in the registration schedule. Example, school attendance is confirmed mid-August families must confirm their care schedule needs by August 31 for 1st day of school start.

Attendance at Extended Day classes will be part-time, with 15 students per class, and consideration will be given to keeping siblings and daytime cohorts together.

It will be recommended that the Before School Programs go outdoors 30min-1hr before the school day begins to allow time for cleaning the classroom. This will ensure classrooms are ready for the daytime cohort. For inclement weather days students can use the gym 30min-1hr before school day begins for physical activity.

It is recommended that After School Programs start outdoors at dismissal bell and remain outdoors for 30min-1hr to allow for cleaning of classrooms that will be used to deliver after school programs. This will ensure classrooms are ready for the After-School Program cohort. For inclement weather days students can use the library & gym for 30min-1hr after school then break out into the after-school classrooms.

Nightly cleaning will occur by custodian in spaces used after school.

Materials for each group of 15 will be provided for use. Labelled and stored in the classroom. The sharing of materials will be minimized and kept separate from those used by the day school classes.

Snacks will be provided in individual servings.  We will ensure proper hand-washing before and after.  Educators will sanitize food surfaces with Vert 2 Go.

Parents will be required to wear a mask when entering the school building to drop off and pick up students at extended day classroom.  Parents will sign in and out for tracing purposes and hand sanitizer will be available at sign in area.

Transportation

In all eventualities, families will be surveyed as to whether they have used bussing in the past and if they intend to continue doing so for the 2020-2021 school year.

  • Transportation will continue to be available to those that qualify.  The eligibility rules have not changed.
  • The government has indicated that all occupants of school vehicles will need to wear masks.  The government has also indicated that they will be supplying reusable masks to all of our students for this purpose, and to stay safe while at school.  Please note that for students in grades JK to 3, enforcement will not take place.  It is understood that very young students will be challenged to wear a mask for an extended period of time, and to wear a mask correctly.  Best efforts please, for the safety of all.  Masks will be distributed in late August.
  • Our Board will be opening elementary schools under the ‘Conventional’ model.  This means that our school buses will be loaded as normal with up to 72 students per bus.  Seating plans will be developed and will be shared with families in advance of school start up.
  • Secondary schools will open under the ‘Adapated’ model.  For transportation purposes, this means that school buses will be loaded at a rate of one student per seat.  The exception to this is siblings.  All siblings will need to share a single seat.
  • Bus schedules will be available in the last week of August.
  • Every family will be contacted shortly to gain confirmation that students will be taking Board-provided transportation, or if they wish to opt out.
  • Aside from the planned personal contact noted above, families have the option to opt out of transportation at the following link:
  • Staff at the Board and at STSWR are working hard to ensure that your children will be transported to school in a safe manner.  Please be patient with your driver and schedules in the fall.  It will not be perfect, but after two weeks of school, most issues should be addressed.
  • Urgent questions can be sent to T1@wcdsb.ca

Parent Survey

We look forward to welcoming back all our staff and students in September.  That said, we know that the Minister of Education has stated that families have the choice to keep a child home and also have access to learning.  To that end, and to help us prepare as fully as possible for the new school year, WCDSB has developed a survey.  All families MUST complete the survey, even if you participated in our survey in June.  The link below provides the details of our start up and asks parents/guardians to complete for each child your intention as to whether you will be sending your child back to school for face to face learning.

The survey is now closed.

If a parent/guardian chooses to keep a child at home, the intent is that some remote learning will be provided.  Commitments are being made for a minimum of 4 weeks.  Returning to face to face will be an option within 4 week intervals in elementary to assist with proper assessment, evaluation and reporting.  In secondary any changes between face to face and remote learning (or vice versa) will occur at the change of each term.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

We know that many staff, parents and students will have questions in relation to our re-opening.  Included below are some of the more frequent questions we have heard.  We will continue to supplement this resource over time.

Updated September 16, 2020

  1. GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT COVID-19
  1. HEALTH & SAFETY IN WCDSB SCHOOLS AND ADMINISTRATIVE FACILITIES
  1. CURRICULUM, LEARNING & SCHOOL ACTIVITIES
  1. OTHER QUESTIONS

1. GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT COVID-19

Q: What is Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

A: The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new respiratory infection first identified in 2019. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious respiratory infections like bronchitis, pneumonia or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). COVID-19 is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified.

Q: How does the virus spread?

A: Coronaviruses are spread mainly from person to person through close contact, for example, in a household or health care centre. They are most commonly spread from an infected person through:

  • respiratory droplets generated when you cough or sneeze
  • close, prolonged 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

For most people, COVID-19 causes only mild illness. Older people and those with a weakened immune system or underlying medical condition(s) are at a higher risk of developing severe disease. Here is how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Q: What are the symptoms associated with Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

A: Symptoms of COVID-19 range from mild – like the flu and other common respiratory infections – to severe. The most common symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you have any symptoms, you can use the self-assessment tool to help determine if you need to seek care or testing. You do not need a referral from a primary care provider or Public Health to access testing. All the assessment centres take self-referrals. It is very important to get tested immediately if you become aware you have had contact with a person infected with COVID-19 or if you, yourself, are ill with symptoms of COVID-19.

Q: Where can I find the most up-to-date information about COVID-19?

A: For reliable, up-to-date information you may consult the Public Health Agency of Canada or

the Ministry of Health. You may also check this webpage or follow us on social media at @ROWPublicHealth for information for Waterloo Region. You may also review the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Frequently Asked Questions.

2. HEALTH & SAFETY IN WCDSB SCHOOLS AND ADMINISTRATIVE FACILITIES

Q: My child was sent home from school with COVID symptoms.  Now what?

A: Please read the attached document from the Region of Waterloo

Q: What do I do if I have COVID-19 symptoms?

A: If you have any symptoms, you can use the self-assessment tool to help determine if you need to seek care or testing. You do not need a referral from a primary care provider or Public Health to access testing. All the assessment centres take self-referrals. It is very important to get tested immediately if you become aware you have had contact with a person infected with COVID-19 or if you, yourself, are ill with symptoms of COVID-19.

Personal Hygiene & Face Masks:

Q: Frequent hand washing has been noted as the most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. What provisions are being made in WCDSB schools to allow students to wash their hands frequently?

A: Schedules will be modified to allow for opportunities for handwashing during the day.  All sinks in schools have been verified operational and our inventory of soap and paper towels (where applicable) has been enhanced.  We have also verified that our suppliers will have no problem providing supplies as the school year progresses.

Q: Will WCDSB be deploying hand sanitizers in schools?

A: Hand sanitizer will be provided for school occupants in classrooms, common areas, main office areas, and at the entrance(s) to each site.

Q: Can I provide my child with their own hand sanitizer?

A: Yes. Students and staff may choose to use personally provided hand sanitizer, as long as there is no added perfume. Personal supplies of hand sanitizer should not be shared with others.

Q: Will school staff be assisting students in applying hand sanitizer?

A: We hope that students will receive some training from their families on the proper use of hand sanitizer.  For younger students and for those that need extra help, school staff will assist.

Q: In what situations or circumstances must masks be worn by staff?

A:  All staff who are unable to maintain physical distancing in the course of their work will be provided with and asked to wear masks. Therefore all staff will be provided with and expected to wear masks.  Reasonable exceptions will apply.

Q:  In what situations or circumstances must masks be worn by students?

A: Students are required to wear masks on school buses. All students from Grades 4 to 12 are required to wear masks at school, as per provincial government policy.  Reasonable exceptions will apply based on a formal request process.  Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 are also required to wear masks, although the formal request process for exemptions has been waived. As with any clothing item, words / images / designs on masks need to be school appropriate.

Q: I do not want my child to wear a mask. Can I opt out?

A: There are some circumstances where students cannot wear masks.  Please bring these circumstances to the attention of your child’s teacher. Students are to be reminded to be respectful to those who cannot wear masks.

Other Health & Safety Considerations & Precautions:

Q: What should staff members and students who become ill at school or at home with symptoms of an influenza-like illness do?

A: All WCDSB staff are required to engage in a daily self-assessment before reporting to work, and anyone feeling unwell or identifying a concern based on their self-assessment should not report to work. Students are asked to follow the same protocol. The Ontario government’s self-assessment tool is available here: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/ Should a student or staff member become ill at school they must immediately report to the Principal and arrangements will immediately be made for them to go home.

Q: What are custodians doing to disinfect schools?

A: Custodians’ schedules have been modified to focus on regular cleaning of high touch areas.  Additional training and instructions will be provided to custodians in advance of the start of the school year. During the summer, all schools have been given a deep cleaning and will be ready for students in September. The school board’s inventory of cleaning and disinfecting supplies has been enhanced, and our vendors have confirmed that they will be able to supply our schools with cleaning products upon demand during the school year.

Q: Are drinking fountains being turned off to prevent the spread of infection?

A: Yes.  Students will be asked to bring reusable water bottles, filled where possible, and to access bottle filling stations during the day for refills.

Q: My child takes a bus to school. What safety provisions are being made on buses to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

A: Between runs, high touch areas on buses will be wiped down with disinfectants.  At the end of each day, each school vehicle will be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly.  Masks will be required for both the driver and occupants of school vehicles.  The style of mask required will be dictated by the Ministry of Education.

3. CURRICULUM,  LEARNING & SCHOOL ACTIVITIES

Q: Can I still register my child for school for the 2020-21 year?

A: Yes! You can access the Online Registration form by clicking on the Register for School link on the WCDSB Homepage and then choosing either Kindergarten Registration, Elementary Registration or Secondary Registration. The link to Online Registration can be found on each page under the “Registration Options”

If you are not a Roman Catholic — but wish to explore a Catholic education for your child(ren) — please review the WCDSB Admissions to Catholic Elementary Schools policy. Our secondary schools are open to students of all faiths.

Q: I do not want my child to attend school in person this year. How will their learning be supported at home?

A: Parents who do not want their child to attend school must complete the WCDSB Parent survey.  If a student’s family elects to have their child learn from home, they will be assigned a teacher who will provide work that may be completed at home and will receive some instructional support from the same individual.  Students may transition back to their core teacher in the face to face classroom, at their own school, at a 4 week interval.

Q: What will remote, synchronous and asynchronous learning look like?

A:

Remote Learning: Learning that occurs when classes are taught at a distance and when students and educators are not in a conventional classroom setting. Remote learning takes place in times of extended interruption to in-person learning – for example, as a result of a pandemic or natural disaster. Classes can be synchronous or asynchronous and can be taught online through a Learning Management System (LMS) or by using videoconferencing tools. In some cases, they may be delivered through emails, print materials, broadcast media, or telephone calls.

Synchronous Learning: Learning that happens in real time. Synchronous learning involves using text, video, or voice communication in a way that enables educators and other members of the school- or board-based team to instruct and connect with students in real time. Synchronous learning supports the well-being and academic achievement of all students, including students with special education needs, by providing educators and students with an interactive and engaging way to learn. It helps teachers provide immediate feedback to students and enables students to interact with one another.

Asynchronous Learning: Learning that is not delivered in real time. Asynchronous learning may involve students watching pre-recorded video lessons, completing assigned tasks, or contributing to online discussion boards

Q: If I choose to keep my child at home to continue learning remotely, how will their experience differ from what they experienced during last Spring’s March to June remote learning period?

A: The remote learning period last Spring took place in extraordinary circumstances, and board staff worked tirelessly to develop resources and teaching processes in the face of an unprecedented public health emergency. There were many successes, but we also understand there were some bumps along the road as well.

The remote learning available to students this Fall has been carefully developed to as much as reasonably possible mirror the teaching and learning happening in conventional classrooms. The following protocols are in place:

  • During remote learning, students and parents will be provided with a daily schedule or timetable that includes 300 minutes of learning opportunities, with a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning activities. Programming will be based on the full Ontario curriculum and include opportunities for guided instruction, large- and small-group learning, synchronous check-ins, and asynchronous independent work.
  • Teachers will be available to students at all times during the teachers’ assigned teaching timetables, as they would be if they were face-to-face in a classroom setting.
  • All subjects will be delivered (specific guidance will be provided for more experiential disciplines such as phys. ed, drama and art).
  • Curriculum expectations will be assessed, evaluated and reported on an ongoing basis and will lead to a formal Progress Report and/or Report Card

Students may transition back to their core teacher in their face-to-face classroom, at their own school, at a 4 week interval.

Q: Can we create our own Hybrid model of school attendance? I would like my child to only attend two days a week and then participate in Remote Learning.

A: No. A hybrid model is not being offered. The two models of learning are in-school learning and remote learning. However, a parent that selects in-school learning may choose to keep their child home from time to time based on health related concerns. Students that are at home may access homework from the classroom teacher but may not be able to access synchronous learning opportunities.

Q: Will students need to provide their own learning materials (i.e. pencils, pencil case, crayons, etc.)? 

A: Our elementary schools will provide necessary learning materials, however students are welcome to bring their own items such as pens, pencils, binders etc. that they will keep at their own desk/table. Secondary students are encouraged to bring their own binder, paper, and writing utensils.  Secondary students may also bring their personally owned Chromebook or personal laptop.

Q: When will secondary school class schedules be confirmed?

A:  Students will be carrying two courses per term.  Their term 1 courses for semester 1 will be their period 1 and 2 classes, and their term 2 courses will be their period 3 and 4 courses, had it been a traditional semestered model.  This pattern will be repeated in semester 2.  Secondary schools will share individual schedules with students later in August.

Q:  What is synchronous learning?

A:  Synchronous learning occurs when teachers and students are connected for instruction remotely, but in real time.  In most cases students will be learning from home for those lessons which are delivered synchronously.  If a student is not available when the synchronous lesson is delivered, in most cases it will also be available as a recording.

Q: Will sports teams, clubs, school trips, co-curricular activities or retreat programs be cancelled?

A:  At both the elementary and secondary school level, as the school year begins, the safest model for athletic programming will be through intramural activities.

School field trips will not occur to start the school year, but we will continue to monitor the province’s re-opening strategy and open those possibilities as proves prudent.  In the meantime, “virtual excursions” are being encouraged in schools. Similarly, the seminal experience of Grade 8 retreats will be adapted as we begin the school year and will be resumed as proves prudent based on provincial and Region of Waterloo Public Health guidance.

Q: Will French Immersion programs be running in September?

A: Yes.

Q: Will eLearning courses continue?

A: Yes.

Q: Will Co-op placements be provided in 2020-21?

A: In person co-op placements may be limited in the 2020-2021 school year due to the requirements of physical distancing and the availability of placements at businesses that may have been closed or continue to be closed due to COVID-19.  Virtual placements are possible.

Q: Will my child be able to receive Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) “Red Seals” in 2020-21?

A: Yes, though some of the program requirements, (e.g., certifications) may be offered virtually.

Q: Is my child still required to complete 40 volunteer hours in order to graduate?

A: Yes, virtual volunteer opportunities are available. The 40 hours requirement was waived by the government for the 2019-20 graduating year (students who graduated in June 2020), but to the best of our knowledge is an applicable requirement for graduates in the 2020-2021 school year.

Q: Will Dual Credit programs be running in 2020-21?

A: Yes.

Q: How will the daily requirements of students with special needs be met?

A: Beginning in September, students with special needs in elementary will be fully integrated in the core classroom everyday. Elementary schools will determine where classroom support staff need to be placed and, where necessary, staff will move to various classes as required to meet student needs. In secondary schools, students in community and active living classes will attend everyday. Personal protective equipment (PPE) will be provided for all 1-to-1 interpersonal contact with students. All special education support staff will continue working with students, schools and families via virtual technology. Principals have communicated to their school communities to ask parents/guardians of students who are medically fragile, immune compromised and/or have chronic or persistent medical conditions to ensure their health care practitioner(s) is consulted before determining the best setting for learning (virtual or conventional).

Q: What are the plans for children with special education needs in terms of keeping them safe when they have difficulty wearing a mask and social distancing?

A: We will ensure our staff have appropriate ppe and will work towards teaching mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing.  At times the student may need to be in the spec ed room or an alternative classroom setting to ensure the safety of self and others.   We would not make a child wear a mask but we will have to do our best to maintain the  safety of all and create goals to work towards students independently wearing a mask and social distancing.

Q: Will my child lose their school based  special education support if they return to virtual learning and not conventional in September?

A: Student assigned support remains in place whether the child is returning to a virtual classroom or their conventional classroom.  Support remains at their school even if they are returning to the virtual learning environment.

Q: Is my child able to bring their own technology device to school?

A: Yes – the school board is encouraging students to once again bring their own device to school as per all previously existing protocols and terms of use.

WCDSB has partnered with Dell and Staples to provide families with cost effective and backpack friend devices to purchase.  https://wcdsb.ca/programs-and-services/elementary-programs/byod/

For Families with financial challenges, RCT (Renewed Computer Technology) is providing low cost and free devices: http://rcto.ca/programs-rctech-outreach.asp

Q: Are WCDSB’s extended day programs running normally in 2020-21?

A: Yes. All extended day programs will be running, with additional cleaning protocols and safety measures in place. The 2 weeks’ notice period for all changes will be removed until August 31, 2020 to allow for families to create their scheduling care needs. Beginning on September 1, 2020, the 2 weeks’ notice period will again be in effect.

Q: Will elementary school students have the opportunity for outdoor recess in 2020-21?

A: To the extent that student numbers and yard space is adequate, recess will proceed as normal. Depending on size of yard or size of school student population – and the ability to maintain a compliant supervision schedule – more than one recess or lunch recess (or staggered outdoor time) could be facilitated.

Q:  Are school bell times different than they used to be?

A:  School bell times will remain very close to what they were previously.  They may adjust by a few moments but for the most part, parents can plan for a start and end time that is consistent with past practice.

Q:  How will entry and exit from the school be managed?

A:  The objective in times of transition will be to maintain physical distancing.  Each school will consider its local reality and formulate a plan that will best work toward the goal of keeping all students physically distanced at entry / exit and transition times.  Public Health has shared the insight that 15 minutes in close proximity to an individual would be meaningful for purposes of contact tracing.

4. OTHER QUESTIONS

Q: Will school rental permits – Community Use of Schools – be available to the community in 2020-21?

A: Rental permits will not be available until January, 2021 at the earliest. Public health considerations will determine when permits may safety resume.

Q: Will outdoor recreation facilities at schools be open in 2020-21?

A: Yes. During school hours, students will be permitted to use outdoor recreation facilities at WCDSB schools, while maintaining appropriate physical distancing. Students will be required to sanitize their hands after outdoor time. Play structures will remain closed until further notice.

Q:  Will the Catholic School Advisory Committees, the Special Education Advisory Committee and the Catholic Parent Involvement Committee be able to meet in the fall? 

A: Yes. These committees will be meeting either in-person or virtually, to be determined based on public health considerations.