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Frequently Asked Questions

It is important for families to understand that direction may change frequently. A rule or guideline that was in place at the beginning of the school year, may have been revised. Always check the most recent FAQ for up to date requirements. Please remember to visit Student Safety, COVID-19 Screening, COVID-19 Cases, and Additional Information sections below. Last update to this webpage: 20210107.

The province announced today (January 7, 2021) that elementary students will continue to learn remotely until Jan 25, 2021, in line with our secondary students. Link: Ontario Extends Teacher-Led Online Learning Until January 25 to Keep Students and Staff Safe in Southern Ontario.

General Questions About the Move to Online Learning Beginning January 4, 2021

When will online learning for my child start? 

On January 4, 2020, teachers would have been in contact with students/families to share how learning will happen. 

Is it mandatory that my child be online each day? 

Following the Christmas break, daily learning will be synchronous:

  • January 4 – January 22, 2021 for elementary students
  • January 4 – January 22, 2021 for secondary students

The expectation will be that students engage in learning every day. For example, 

  • Being online for a lesson, teacher presentation or other activity  
  • Submitting assignments  
  • Communicating with the teacher and/or classmates  

What schedule will secondary students follow?

Although secondary student will be receiving instruction virtually, they will still follow the exact schedule they would follow if they attending their school face to face. 

How does my child access their Brightspace online classroom? 

Your child’s classroom teacher has this information to support you logging in. In addition, if you go to the Brightspace login page, you can access the Brightspace guide for parents.

To access your Brightspace classroom visit: https://bhncdsb.ca.elearningontario.ca/d2l/login

What if we need help using Brightspace (online classroom) content and lessons? 

Please contact your classroom teacher for assistance through email or access the teacher via Brightspace. Educators will be available beginning January 4, 2021 

Information Technology

I need help with Brightspace or Email Usernames/Passwords.

  • You can find Brightspace help on the default login page. There you will find a Guide for Parents that can assist.
  • If you need help with your email username or password, start by connecting with your classroom teacher.

I need help accessing a loaned student device. Who do I tell? 

The Board has also developed a time-sensitive process for those families requesting a device. Please understand that we do not have the resources to provide devices to every student, as a result, this round of distribution will initially prioritize one device per family for those who do not have devices at home or limited access to devices. We ask that those families with devices at home or access to devices not submit requests at this time. For more information and how to schedule a device and a pick-up time visit the Board Issued Student Devices document.

During the temporary online learning period, how do I contact Helpdesk? What hours do they work? When can I expect a call/email back from them? 

Prior to contacting the IT helpdesk, please speak with your child’s teacher for troubleshooting. If this is unsuccessful, the Board’s ITS helpdesk is available on regular school days between 8am – 8pm. The helpdesk can be contacted for issues with technology and logging-in at 519-756-6505 ext. 711 or via email helpdesk@bhncdsb.ca . Although the helpdesk strives to resolve issues within 24-hours, due to the increase in demand for assistance, additional time maybe required for resolution. We thank you for your patience.  

Special Education

Can you share how Special Education programs will be handled during the temporary move to virtual learning?

  • Special Education programs and services will continue to be available to students in an online format through the Brightspace and Teams platforms.  
  • The Board is also prepared to deploy Special Education Amount equipment for home use during the temporary pivot to online learning. Students who require equipment to access the curriculum while learning remotely will be contacted with specific instructions for pick-up by the Special Education Department. You will be contacted by December 28, 2020 and the pick-up date will be December 30, 2020. 
  • If a SEA device is essential for you to learn over the temporary remote learning period and have not been contacted by December 28th, please email speced@bhncdsb.ca

Virtual Elementary and Secondary Schools  

  • There will be no disruption to the current virtual elementary and secondary schools. Virtual learning for students currently enrolled in the Board’s virtual schools will continue as normal.   
  • The next opportunity to cross over from elementary brick and mortar schools to the elementary virtual school is on Tuesday February 16, 2021. 
  • Registration for Quadmester 3 secondary virtual school closed on December 15, 2020.  Quadmester 3 is scheduled to begin on Thursday February 4, 2021. 

Child Care and Before and After School Centres 

  • Before and After School Programs are closed until January 25, 2021 while students engage in temporary, online learning. 
  • Childcare centres that run out of Holy Family, Sacred Heart in Paris, St. Patrick’s Caledonia, Assumption and St Michael’s may remain open (please check with your provider to ensure they are running during the closure). 

Who do I contact for help or answers that I cannot find here?

If you have pressing questions or require assistance not found on our FAQ page, please contact us via email: info@bhncdsb.ca. This email account will be monitored over the holidays and we will respond to questions in the order that they arrive.

Student and Staff Safety

How will BHNCDSB students and staff be monitored for COVID-19 symptoms?

All BHNCDSB students and staff are required to conduct daily self-assessments before arriving at school or a board facility. Use Ontario's COVID-19 School and Child Care Screening Tool (updated: October 2, 2020).

What proactive health and safety protocols are in place at schools for COVID-19?

BHNCDSB is utilizing a number of health and safety strategies:

  • All non-essential furniture, supplies, and equipment have been removed from classrooms to assist with physical distancing.
  • Face coverings or masks are mandatory for students in Grades 4-12 and highly recommended for students in Kindergarten-Grade 3, both in the classroom and on student transportation. Students will need to supply and use their own reusable face covering or mask (disposable if they wish).
  • Any student requiring a medical exemption from wearing a mask must submit a formal written request for approval. Contact your school principal.
  • At a minimum, staff are required to wear a level 1 or level 2 mask and face shield.
  • Regular hand washing and/or hand-sanitizing will be built into our school day and encouraged often.
  • Where possible, adjustments have been made to the HVAC systems in schools. Additionally, windows will be opened if possible.
  • There is extensive directional signage placed in all schools to encourage physical distancing. As well, maximum number of people in a single area, physical distancing, hand sanitizing reminders and many other signs have been placed throughout the school.
  • There is increased cleaning and disinfecting of touch points, bathrooms and shared items.

COVID-19 Screening, Symptoms and What to Do

My child has woken up not feeling well, what do I do? OR My child has been sent home from school with symptoms, what do I do?

If you notice that your child has new or worsening symptoms, or if your child has been sent home from school due to symptoms, what you do depends on the symptom and how usual they are for your child.

If your child has new or worsening:

  • Fever/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decreased or loss of smell or taste

Your child should isolate immediately, and you should contact your child’s health provider for further advice or assessment. Your health care provider can help you determine whether the symptoms are related to another non-COVID-19 condition, or if they should get tested for COVID-19.

If your child has ONE new or worsening symptom (that is not related to a known cause or condition) that include:

  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose/runny nose
  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting/diarrhea
  • Fatigue/lethargy/muscle aches/malaise

Your child should stay home for 24 hours to be monitored to see whether the symptoms get better or worse. If they start to feel better and symptoms are improving, they can return to school/child care when well enough to do so and no COVID-19 testing is needed.

If the symptoms get worse, you should contact their health care provider for further advice or assessment. The health care provider can help you determine whether the symptoms are related to another non-COVID-19 condition, or if they should get tested for COVID-19.

If your child has TWO or MORE new or worsening symptoms (that are not related to a known cause or condition) that include:

  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose/runny nose
  • Headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue/lethargy/muscle aches or malaise

Your child should isolate immediately, and you should contact your child’s health provider for further advice or assessment. The health care provider can help you determine whether the symptoms are related to another non-COVID-19 condition, or if they should get tested for COVID-19.

My child did not pass the COVID-19 Screening Tool. What do I do?

Please complete Ontario's COVID-19 School and Child Care Screening Tool (updated: October 2, 2020) to determine next steps.

If your child is waiting for direction from their health care provider and/or waiting for COVID-19 test results, they need to isolate. Members living in the same household as the sick child also need to self-isolate if the child has had a high-risk exposure - for example: traveled outside of Canada in the last 14 days or is a close contact of a positive case of COVID-19.

If the sick child has had no high-risk exposure, household members should self-monitor.

My child was sent home from school because they have symptoms, but I don’t believe it’s COVID-19. What do I do?

If you believe your child does not have COVID-19, but is experiencing allergies, a common cold, flu, etc., please take your child to their health care provider for further assessment. Your child’s health care provider may send your child for COVID-19 testing or provide an alternative diagnosis.

If the health care provider does not recommend testing for COVID-19, then your child can return to school once they are symptom-free for 24 hours.

Medical notes or proof of negative tests are not required for students to return to school.

What happens during cold/flu season or for those suffering from seasonal allergies. Will they be sent home?

COVID-19 shares some of the same symptoms as a cold, flu or seasonal allergies. As a result, students and staff will need to be vigilant and watch for common COVID-19 symptoms. If they experience these symptoms, particularly if they are new or worsening symptoms, they should consult with their health care provider before attending school.

Students and staff are required to monitor their symptoms daily and not attend school when they are feeling ill. Everyone within the school community has an important role to play in ensuring a safe and healthy environment for all.

My child has a runny nose, what should I do?

If your child’s only symptom is a runny nose, you should keep your child home and monitor their symptoms as you would in any other year. When they feel better, they are ready to go back to school/child care and no COVID-19 testing is needed. If they get worse or develop other symptoms, you should contact their health care provider for more advice. Mild symptoms known to persist in young children (e.g., runny nose) may be ongoing at time of return to school/child care if other symptoms have been resolved.

I (parent/guardian) have a symptom related to COVID-19. Does my child(ren) need to stay home from school?

Please complete Ontario's COVID-19 School and Child Care Screening Tool (updated: October 2, 2020) to determine your and your child’s next steps. If testing is recommended, then household contacts should self-isolate pending testing and results.

COVID-19 Cases

What happens if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19?

BHNCDSB families will be notified via School Messenger if a student or staff member at their child’s school tests positive for COVID-19. BHNCDSB works closely with both the Brant County Health Unit and the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. If there is a positive case in BHNCDSB, the board will follow the direction provided by these medical experts.

Local health units will provide public health guidance and direction to those affected and will be responsible for contact tracing. Any student or staff member determined to be a close contact of a confirmed case will be contacted by the appropriate health unit to inform them of their exposure and outline next steps. If you, or your child, is not contacted by the appropriate health unit, they have not been considered a close contact.

What is a “close contact of a confirmed case?”

A close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case is an individual who has been within six feet for more than 15 minutes with some who: has symptoms (in the period from two days before symptom onset until they meet criteria for discontinuing home isolation), or has tested positive for COVID-19, but has not had any symptoms (in the two days before the date of specimen collection until they meet criteria for discontinuing home isolation).

I received notice from my child’s school about a COVID-19 case in our school community. If my child has been identified as a close contact, when will I hear from the local health unit regarding next steps?

If your child has been identified as a close contact to a confirmed case of COVID-19, you will be contacted by the local health unit (Brant County or Haldimand-Norfolk). The local health unit will outline next steps, which may include instructions to seek testing.

The Ministry of Health mandates public health units to be in contact with known close contacts within 24-48 hours of being made aware of them. The local health unit may not be aware of all close contacts at the time BHNCDSB families receive the initial notice from the school about a COVID-19 case. The local health unit needs time to conduct their investigation. This investigation includes gathering all known close contacts to the initial case.

The local health unit will determine the extent of all students/staff exposures, based on activities within the classroom/cohorts as well as the broader school (i.e., transportation, child care and before/after school programs). This assessment and management is based on the provincial School Outbreak Management Guidance from the Ministry of Health.

If someone at my child’s school tests positive for COVID-19, does my child need to be tested?

If your child has been identified as a close contact to a confirmed case, you will be contacted by the appropriate local health unit. The health unit will outline next steps, which may include instructions to seek testing.

If you have not been contacted by your local public health unit, your child has not been identified as a close contact of the individual who has tested positive, and therefore testing is not required. If despite this, you remain concerned about your child’s exposure, you are free to seek assessment from your healthcare provider.

My child takes a bus with someone who I heard tested positive for COVID-19. What do I do?

Logs and seating plans for student transportation services are kept assisting health units in contact tracing. Any student or staff member determined to be a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case will be contacted by the appropriate health unit to inform them of their exposure and outline next steps. This close contact determination includes the time of transportation to and from school. For students below 18 years of age, a parent or guardian will be contacted in place of the student.

I was told someone in my child’s school tested positive for COVID-19. Is extra cleaning taking place in my school?

BHNCDSB follows prescribed and thorough cleaning protocols. All high-touch areas of the school and classrooms are attended to multiple times each day and the school is thoroughly cleaned each night. Authorized products that kill the COVID-19 virus are utilized and are an effective method of sanitizing.

If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, how long do they stay away from school and who tells them it is safe to go back?

Any student or staff member testing positive for COVID-19 will be contacted by the local public health unit from the jurisdiction in which they reside. The public health unit will direct the individual on their isolation period (generally 14 days). When the public health unit has deemed the case resolved the individual will be able to return to school.

No additional testing is required following the 14-day isolation period. Local health units do not need to provide written or verbal clearance for an affected student or staff member to return to school after they have satisfied the above requirements. To enter schools, all students and staff must be able to pass Ontario's COVID-19 School and Child Care Screening Tool (updated: October 2, 2020).

I heard someone at my school has COVID-19. Who tested positive? Why won’t you tell me?

BHNCDSB District School Board and the local public health unit have a duty, under the Personal Health Information and Protection Act, to protect the privacy of patients, including those who have tested positive for COVID-19. While the identities of those who test positive for COVID-19 can not be disclosed, any student or staff member determined to be a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case will be contacted by the appropriate local health unit to inform them of their exposure and outline next steps. For students below 18 years of age, a parent or guardian will be contacted in place of the student.

I know someone has COVID-19, but they’re still going to class at my child’s school. Who do I tell?

Please call the appropriate local health unit and school to report non-compliance of isolation orders

My doctor said my child needs to be tested for COVID-19. What do I do?

Contact your local COVID-19 assessment centre to arrange for testing. Your child needs to isolate while waiting for direction from their health care provider and/or while waiting for test results. If your child has been tested for COVID-19, you can see your results online.

Additional Information for Families and Staff

Outbreaks and Closures - What do they mean?

Closing a cohort

When there is a positive COVID-19 case connected to a school, public health may decide to close a cohort (send the class and all individuals connected to the class home) for a period of time determined by public health.

Outbreak

An outbreak in a school is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in students and/or staff in a school with an epidemiological link, within a 14-day period, where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection in the school.

When an outbreak is declared, one or more cohorts connected to the two or more cases may be closed (sent home) for a period of time determined by public health.

Closing a school

Under the order of public health or at the recommendation of the Board, a school may be closed to students. In this situation, students will move to asynchronous or synchronous learning. All Before/After School Child Care programs are also closed.

I don’t have a family doctor, or my family doctor is not able to see me.

Please use a walk-in clinic or call Telehealth Ontario: Toll-free: 1-866-797-0000 or Toll-free TTY: 1-866-797-0007.

Where do I go for COVID-19 cases at school updates?

If a BHNCDSB student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 or there is an COVID-19 outbreak declared, you will be informed as soon as possible via School Messenger. For more information on COVID-19 in BHNCDSB schools visit the COVID-19 Cases by Location webpage.

Additionally, the Brant County Health Unit and the Haldimand Norfolk Health Unit will also provide daily updates on their respective sites for school outbreak statistics.

More information for BHNCDSB families residing in Brant or Brantford

Visit the Brant County Health Unit’s website or call 519-753-4937 and press 1. Check the website for hours of operation. You can also email your questions to covid19@bchu.org.

More information for BHNCDSB families residing in Haldimand or Norfolk

Visit the Haldimand Norfolk Health Unit’s website or call 519-426-6170, ext. 9999.