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Updated details on return to school

Welcome back on Jan. 17
Posted on 01/13/2022
COVID graphic

We have been notified by the Ministry of Education that students will return to school for in-person learning beginning on Monday, January 17, 2022.


We look forward to welcoming our in-person learners back to school, and we are providing some important details that we felt parents and students should know as we prepare to return to our buildings on Monday.


Staffing Our Schools


Given the spread of the Omicron variant and the current case counts in our region, there is a potential likelihood that due to illness, we may not have enough staff for all classes to attend in person, and in some extreme cases, to safely open a school.


Please know that we have developed a comprehensive staffing contingency plan to make sure that we have adequate personnel to staff our classrooms, but in some extreme cases this may not be possible.


In the event of a class shutdown or school closure due to a staffing shortage we will notify parents as soon as possible so that they can make alternative arrangements for their children. In the event of a class shutdown or school closure, and where possible, we will try to transition to online learning if circumstances permit.


Parents should make certain that their contact information is up to date with their school office as we may need to reach them quickly in the event of a classroom or school closure.


Timetabling/Scheduling


Elementary students will continue to follow their regular in-person schedules.


Secondary students will revert back to their two-period day, with Periods 3 & 4 on Jan. 17. That schedule will continue until Jan. 25. The period between Jan. 26 to Feb. 1 is when students must submit their culminating activity assignments. Specific details regarding culminating activity days will be communicated to students through their schools. Feb. 2 is a PA Day, and we anticipate that secondary students will be able to return to a regular, four-period per day, in-person schedule when the second semester begins on Feb. 3.


Students with special education complex learning needs who have been attending school in person will continue to follow their regular schedule.


Transportation


Due to the high number of COVID-19 cases in the community, bus transportation may be affected. If there is high absenteeism with drivers who have been exposed or are COVID-19 positive your buses may be cancelled or delayed. Please check your email if you have subscribed to bus notifications; if not check www.buskids.ca and click on the Cancellations and Delays link for information.   


Masking


Masks are still required for all staff, students and essential visitors in our schools.
The provincial government will be providing students with expanded access to free high quality three-ply cloth masks. Two masks per student will be available and encouraged to be used. The use of these masks is not being mandated at this time. We are expecting delivery of these masks soon and schools will make them available for students.


All schools have been supplied with medical masks as well as optional non-fitted N95 masks for staff.


Daily Screening


Rigorous screening and monitoring of symptoms by students, families, and staff is critical to limiting transmission and keeping schools safe and open for in-person learning.


It’s important to note that screening symptoms for the Omicron variant have changed. Please be sure to familiarize yourself with these new symptoms, to continue screening yourself and your children every day, and to complete your screening attestation daily.


The message that was delivered on Dec. 30 by Dr. Keiran Moore, Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health (OCMOH), was very clear: If you’re sick, stay home.


If someone in your household is experiencing symptoms, members of the household should continue to follow public health guidelines, which can be found here.


Attendance 


If a student will not be attending school, the parent is responsible to continue to report their absence to the school.


Testing


As announced by Minister of Education Stephen Lecce, we are expecting a shipment of Rapid Antigen Tests for staff and students. More details will be provided as they become available.


Schools have received a limited supply of take-home PCR self-collection kits from the Ministry of Education.  


Take-home PCR self-collection kits will only be used in limited circumstances. These kits are to be provided only to symptomatic students and education staff who become symptomatic while at school.


Parents are not required to report their child's PCR/RAT results to the school or child care. In the event of a positive test result, students and staff should continue to follow public health guidelines which can be found here.


Case reporting and cohort dismissals


According to the Ontario Ministry of Health, individuals only exposed at school where all public health measures are in place are not generally considered “high risk” contacts.


All cases (i.e. people who test positive on PCR, rapid molecular, or rapid antigen test OR who are presumed positive) should notify high risk contacts of their exposure.


Public health units will no longer be dismissing cohorts. Any dismissals or closures of a school or child care will be contingent on operational requirements determined by the school board, school and/or child care operator. 


We understand that parents have become accustomed to receiving notifications from the WECDSB regarding positive cases and cohort dismissals however, given the widespread transmission and inability to test all symptomatic individuals, Ontario school boards will not be routinely notifying parents or students/pupils in classes or on buses with a positive case, or if a child/student or staff is absent due to symptoms associated with COVID-19.


This change in reporting is based on direction from both the Ministry of Health and the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health (OCMOH).


Where a student or staff member has been advised from a case that they may have been exposed to a positive case of COVID-19 at school, they should monitor for symptoms and seek testing if eligible/available. Guidance will be provided to those who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive.


Extracurricular Activities


On the strong advice of the OCMOH, indoor high contact and high intensity activities, multi-cohort choirs and wind instrument ensembles, will be paused temporarily to ensure the health and well-being of students.


In cooperation with local school boards, the Windsor Essex County Secondary School Athletic Association (WECSSAA) has paused all secondary sports until at least the beginning of the second semester. 


Permitted low-contact indoor sports will be determined in consultation with the Windsor Essex County Secondary School Athletic Association (WECSSAA), other local Boards and the WECHU. 



In conclusion, we look forward to welcoming our students back for in-person learning on Jan. 17. As always, we remain committed to providing safe and healthy learning environments for our students and staff.



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