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Return to School Updates

Jul 20, 2020
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This summer, we will be providing updates about our preparations for school opening in September. These preparations will be made in consultation with Niagara Public Health and the Ministry of Education. Check back often or bookmark this site for updates.  

We wish you a safe, healthy and happy summer.

Frequently Asked Questions - July 13, 2020

The FAQs below were created from questions that parents provided to us in the June survey which was distributed to you by your child’s school.

Although we are providing the most timely information in these FAQs as possible, ultimately, Niagara Public Health and the Ministry of Education will determine the school re-opening strategy that will be used. We will update the FAQs as we receive new information. 

COMMUNICATION

When will we find out what is happening in September?

How much notice will be given prior to returning to school about protocols/plans?
The educational model for secondary students planned for September 2020 will be determined by the Ministry of Education in consultation with Public Health.  

We are planning three models in preparation for the return to school in September including a full return with safety protocols, a modified return with a combination of in-class and online learning, and a fully online learning model.

We will also be sharing FAQ and other updates on our Return to School Updates website and through social media.

When will we receive student timetables for the fall?
We will be in contact with families at the end of the summer to share timetable details.

What should I do with the items I currently have on loan?
Please keep the items loaned to you by the school safe (Chromebooks, textbooks, library books etc). We will communicate with you at the end of the summer about when to return them.

TRANSPORTATION

Will there be physical distancing on the bus?
NSTS is using the following protocols in the planning of their routes. They will release their full transportation plans to families in August.

Buses will carry 24 students at a time instead of the usual 48. If there are siblings on the bus they will sit together. Seating students this way allows for physical distancing of students by having them sit at every other seat.

Drivers will be cleaning high touch points in the bus between runs.

Will masks be worn on the bus?
NSTS will be working with Niagara Public Health closer to the start of school to determine if masks are required to be worn.

Will busing (special door to school) still be available?
NSTS is planning busing routes will be the same as the 2019/2020 school year with central bus stops or home bus stops in special circumstances. The bus stops will remain the same.

SAFETY / SCHOOL FACILITIES

Are masks to be worn at school?
Public Health has advised us that it is not necessary for masks to be worn for daily classroom learning. However, students and staff can wear masks if they would like to. Masks will not be provided.

Will hand sanitizer be provided?
Each classroom will be equipped with sanitizer. There will be additional sanitizer stations located throughout the school including entryways.

Are more staff being hired to keep schools clean?
More custodians are being hired to manage the ongoing sanitization of high touch points and other cleaning protocols as outlined by Public Health.

How does a school manage social distancing in hallways and classroom?
Students and staff will be encouraged and reminded to physically distance themselves where possible when at school. Hallways where possible will be dedicated to movement in one direction so no one must cross paths. Similarly, stairways where possible will have a dedicated up and down direction to keep everyone physically distant.

To encourage physical distancing and minimize transmission:

  • Students will be attending one class in a day and stay together throughout the day. 
  • Students will be remaining in their classroom setting unless participating in outdoor activities.
  • The number of adults that interact with students throughout the day will be minimized.

How large are class sizes? Is there a cap to size?
Classes will be divided into two cohorts, reducing the class size. Public health will determine maximum class sizes

Will there be COVID testing for staff and students? Will there be daily health screening?
It will be the parent’s and student’s responsibility to do a daily assessment before sending them to school. If your child exhibits symptoms such as coughing, fever, and headache, they are not permitted to attend school. If anyone in your household has a confirmed case of COVID-19, your child must remain home and you must contact your health provider for more information.

Each staff member is required to do a daily assessment of their health before entering the school or worksites.

How will you monitor illness among students?
Students will be asked to let their teacher know if they are feeling unwell; students will then go to the Designated Health Room if a parent is picking them up.

How will schools restrict groups hanging out together?
Organizing the school and classes with physical distancing in mind is one of the ways to prevent students from congregating. There will also be posted reminders such as “No Congregating” signs and the closure of areas where students normally congregate.

How will access to washrooms work?
Protocols have been developed to allow for physical distancing rules to occur. Clear signage will be posted.

Will there be improvements to the ventilation systems in school?
Public Health has not advised that changes to school ventilation is a measure for preventing COVID-19. We will be implementing other safety measures such as physical distancing, handwashing, and coughing and sneezing etiquette.

What happens if there is a COVID-19 outbreak at a school?
We have a comprehensive plan in place which will work quickly to isolate any students or staff with symptoms and communicate to the parent community and Public Health

ATTENDANCE

Do parents have a choice to send students to school?
Yes, parents may choose to opt their child out of in class learning and instead where possible have an eLearning timetable.

What will happen if my child doesn’t attend school?
Where possible, students may be given an eLearning timetable

There are circumstances where parents are not ready to send their child to school for in-class learning at this time. For these situations, students will be able to take their courses fully online. 

MENTAL HEALTH & WELL-BEING

Is there support for students with mental health concerns issues / anxiety?
Yes. As always, the DSBN is committed to supporting the mental health and well-being of students and staff; even more so during these challenging times.  As well as school-based programs, schools are supported with youth counselors, social workers and community based resources.

SUMMER WELLNESS LINE
During the summer, parents can call the Summer Wellness Line. It is staffed by school social workers from June 29 to September 1, 2020. It operates Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm (except August 3).

If you phone after hours, please leave a voicemail message and it will be returned as soon as possible on the next business day. The Wellness Line for Secondary Student phone number is: 905-993-1004

SCHEDULE

Will there be a schedule for attending school on certain days?
In DSBN secondary schools we are planning for three models, one of which will be approved by the Ministry of Education. A fully online model, a in-class model with safety protocols, and a modified model which combines these two.

In the modified model, students are grouped into to cohorts and follow a 10 day cycle.  Each day that students are in-class, they will take three periods of the same class.

When students are in-class they will stay in the same room, with the same teacher and classmates. Like the elementary modified model, the days when students are not in class they will be engaged with online learning. 

What will be start time/end time?
Start and end times for each school will be communicated parents in August. They will differ from regular timelines, due to the compressed secondary school day.

Will after school clubs / sports activities still run?
Extracurricular clubs, sports, and other activities are on hold until the Ministry of Education and Public Health deem that it is safe for students to participate in these kinds of opportunities. 

Where will students eat lunch and take breaks?
To maintain physical distancing, students will eat in their classroom. They will be able to go outside to stretch their legs and get fresh air as the timetable permits.  

INSTRUCTION

Do parents have a choice of whether their kids learn at school or learn at home?
The model that is implemented in September 2020 will be determined by the Ministry of Education in consultation with Ontario Public Health.

Will there be an online learning option if kids don’t attend school?
There are circumstances where parents are not ready to send their child to school for in-class learning at this time. For these situations, students will be able to take their courses fully online.

Do students have to participate in online learning?
In the fully online and modified learning models, online learning will be an important component of students’ learning and towards the earning of credits. Teachers will be focusing on the overall expectations of courses.

How will hands-on classes work like art, music, Phys-Ed, tech, etc.?
The scheduled class times at school will allow for hands-on learning

Will certain courses be cancelled due to COVID-19?
No.

Will Volunteer hours still be required to graduate?
Currently, 40 community involvement hours are a requirement from the Ministry of Education for students to graduate

Student Transportation Update – June 25, 2020

Back to school transportation communication processes from Niagara Student Transportation will not be the same for the 2020/2021 school year as in previous year. They will not be able to send letters to families nor will the parent portal open in mid-August. 

NSTS is working with the DSBN this summer to plan transportation to align with return to school plans. As more information is available, it will be posted on the NSTS website and here.