Return to School - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Return to School - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Background

School Resumption FAQs has been prepared to provide parents with answers to questions as we return to school. As is always the case with respect to health concerns, the Board takes its guidance from medical authorities.

If you have a question that is not answered in this document, please contact your school administrator.

Questions with respect to isolation requirements

How will the opening of schools meet isolation requirements and ensure limited exposure to COVID-19? Class sizes will be restricted. Students will be placed in cohorts and remain in the same cohort for the duration of school opening, in order to limit the number of other students with which a student has contact.

What will happen to students who develop symptoms during the school day and are awaiting pick up? Principals are required to identify an area in the school suitable for isolating students who become symptomatic during the school day.  Symptomatic students will be required to wear a mask for as long as they are symptomatic, even if in an isolated area awaiting pickup. The adult supervising the students will wear PPE while supervising the students.

What safeguards will be taken with respect to parent volunteers? Before leaving home, volunteers who will access the school must self-screen for symptoms each day that they enter the school using the screening questionnaire. To ensure the safety of students, volunteers will not be in direct contact with students. Volunteers provide invaluable service to the school and allow the running of the breakfast club.

Questions with respect to reducing risk and physical distancing

What about playground equipment? Playground equipment is open. Students are asked to wash their hands prior to accessing the playground equipment.

What about breakfast programs? To prevent cross-contamination between classes as much as possible, breakfast will be taken in the classroom.

What about water fountains?Water fountains will not be available for use. Students are asked to bring their own water bottles. We ask that the water bottle be labeled with students' names.

Will there be communal items in the classroom (e.g. glues sticks, scissors, art supplies, pencils etc.)? There will be little to no communal items. Students will be provided with a basket that contains their own school supplies. These supplies as well as books, tablets and computers will not be shared between students.

What about supply teachers? We will continue to follow the regular practise for the deployment of supply teachers. In collaboration with Human Resources, each school will work to ensure that instruction continues with the support of supply teachers in cases of daily or prolonged absences. Supply teachers are mandated to wear face covering at all times.

What about parent teacher interviews? All parent teacher interviews would be conducted on the phone or via online meetings until further notice.

Questions with respect to physical distancing

How will physical distancing be maintained in entryways and mudrooms? There will be a limit of one class at a time in any mudroom area. Staggered entry and departure procedures will be implemented to ensure Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) distancing requirements are met.

What about recess? Recess breaks will be staggered through the day and taken by class groups, to prevent possible cross-contamination, and to limit the number of students outside and on playground equipment at any one time.

Will the number of supervisors be increased for each of the separated classes? To prevent cross-contamination between classes as much as possible, teachers will supervise and stay with their class for most of the day.

How will hallway movement be managed given physical distancing requirements? Staggered times for entry and exit will ensure hallway movement meets TBDHU distancing requirements for schools.

Questions with respect to preventing spread

Will hand sanitizing stations be available? Hand sanitizing stations have been in our schools for some time.  Portable stations may be made available for outdoor activities. All students are encouraged to bring their own personal size sanitizers from home, if possible.

What environmental controls will be used to reduce risk? Where possible, doors will be propped open to reduce touchpoints. Existing building ventilation systems meet building codes for air circulation. High touch surfaces will be identified for increased frequency of cleaning and sanitizing.

What about field trips and travel? All field trips and travel are suspended until further notice. Virtual trips and guest speakers will supplement this aspect of school programming.

Is the school prepared for symptom monitoring? Staff and students will be asked to self-assess for symptoms that may indicate an onset of COVID-19 (cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose, or sore throat) each day using the screening questionnaire. School staff will also monitor for these symptoms in the classroom. Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam has said that taking the temperature of people as a screening measure for COVID-19 is ineffective.

What criteria will be used to identify and respond to an outbreak at a school? An outbreak will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The Board will take direction from the TBDHU. Possible responses could include moving to a learning from home environment for a period of time, several classes moving to a learning from home environment or the entire school moving to a learning from home environment.

Questions with respect to masks and personal protective equipment (PPE)

Will the school require face masks for staff and students? Students from grade Jk to 8 are required to wear masks at all times. In the event students forget their mask, one will be provided to them.

Will my child be allowed not to wear a mask due to a medical condition? Students may be allowed not to wear a mask when the Board is provided with medical documentation from a physician stating this fact.

Other questions

Will there be increased access to mental health support and counseling for staff and students should a staff member, student, or staff or student’s family member fall seriously ill? We are closely working with our community partners to provide services to staff and students.

What training will be offered to staff regarding COVID-19? Training from the Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) will be offered to all SNCDSB staff on September 2nd, 2020.

Is the Board prepared to continue distance learning options and support for students? The Board will continue to provide the learn from home options to students and parents. The online learning will not be delivered by their classroom teachers. Students from across the Board will be enrolled in virtual classrooms with a teacher dedicated to online learning.

How will special learning needs be supported? Teachers and Educational Assistants will continue to support the learning needs of students.

What considerations will be in place for students who travel by bus to school? Transportation information will be provided to parents by the consortium.

For the parents/guardians that decided on remote learning, can their child(ren) return to class in-person at a later date if they feel safer to do so? Students who begin the school year with remote learning will be able to return back to school in-person during the following times: Thanksgiving, Christmas, March Break

This document will be updated as additional information becomes available. Please keep in mind that the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve and the details outlined could change based on direction from the Ministry of Education and/or public health officials.