Dear Waterloo Catholic Community –
As I write this letter, we sit on the cusp of our Christmas break and perhaps more than ever, we can all appreciate the need for a pause. It is a true testament to everyone in the entire WCDSB community that we made it to Christmas with all our schools still open and thriving, despite the reality of the pandemic. The number of cases in our schools has grown, reflecting where we are as a region, but in all circumstances, the cases are quickly resolved, and all affected individuals return to school in a short period of time. We have had very, very few cases of “outbreak” which is defined as 2 or more related cases in a school. So, on behalf of all – thank you for your ongoing efforts which have made the school re-opening process possible, and for adhering to public health and safety measures that have ensured schools remain a safe place for our students and staff.
The holidays are going to look a little different this year. We understand that there may be challenges as the winter break approaches but we encourage all families to consider what we can all do to make the return to school in January 2021 as safe as possible. I would also like to remind you about the actions we are taking to reinforce the health and safety protocols aimed at protecting our students, educators and staff while limiting the spread of COVID-19 at schools.
Throughout this challenging time in our history, I have used the refrain #InThisTogether and it has been a way to emphasize that we are a team in all of this. That we do have each other’s back. What one of us does, affects all of us. During the upcoming Christmas Break we must adhere to the guidance to limit our contacts and social gatherings. You can check the government’s holiday web page for more direct and up-to-date guidance on how individuals and families can plan for a safe holiday season, including suggestions for safer holiday activities for children and families.
I also wanted to take this opportunity to speak to you about our upcoming Transition window in secondary. As indicated, we have one further transition window in both elementary and secondary. Our secondary survey will be open January 4th to January 6th. At this time, you will have the opportunity to indicate if you wish to move your child back to face to face learning (adapted model) in their community school or if you wish to move to St Isidore (virtual school).
This choice will apply for the remainder of the year – including into the warmer spring months of April, May, and June. We have to limit ourselves to one final transition window to be able to facilitate the challenging student and staff scheduling that needs to take place.
As a reminder, anyone feeling ill should not attend school. All children, students, staff, and visitors must be screened for symptoms of illness every day before attending school or childcare. To help meet this requirement, you may use the provincial COVID-19 school screening tool. Self-screening will still be a requirement when we return to school and we will continue to reinforce masking and hand hygiene, as well as cohorting and physical distancing with students and our staff.
We encourage you to visit Ontario.ca/covidresponse to learn what public health measures are in place in our community – but also please be aware that these could change depending on the most current public health advice. We also suggest checking out the WCDSB website https://www.wcdsb.ca/living-learning-looking-forward/ and Region of Waterloo Public Health website https://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/health-and-wellness/2019-novel-coronavirus.aspx as they contain helpful resources and supports. If you have any questions about what your school is doing, please let your school principal know.
Once again, I want to share that it is perhaps inevitable that when the provincial and regional numbers rise, we too will see some cases. I realize that if you get a letter saying there has been a case of COVID in your school that it is most unsettling. If we ask a cohort to quarantine it is to ensure that they remain safe and that the rest of our school community remains safe. Our safety protocols are working.
We sincerely thank you for journeying with us. May each of you and your families enjoy a beautiful Christmas Season. Perhaps it is entirely fine that it will be less social, less focused on material goods, much simpler in every way but firmly focused on family, for isn’t it true that the very first Christmas was exactly that. Let us continue to be people of hope who celebrate the birth of a tiny babe who shared a powerful message of love and salvation. Please reach out to us if you need help or guidance and remain confident that we are here to support you, as we walk together as a hope-filled community. #InThisTogether #WeGotThis
Loretta Notten, Director of Education