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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.

Monday, September 21, 2020

My child was sent home from school because they have one or more COVID-19 symptoms. What do I do?

Students with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 should be tested. Parents and guardians have three options:

  1. Take your child to their health care provider for further assessment. Your child’s health care provider will assess your child and determine whether a COVID-19 test is necessary.
  2. Take your child directly to an assessment centre for testing.
  3. If you refuse options 1 and 2, then your child (and everyone in your household) needs to self-isolate for 14 days.

Your child needs to isolate while waiting for direction from a health care provider and/or while waiting for test results. 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 do not need to self-isolate but should self-monitor.

IMPORTANT: This information pertains to students of BHNCDSB while attending a BHNCDSB program/class on site. It does not necessarily pertain to BHNCDSB students who attend programming administered by another organization or under the guidance of a different Ministry or Act (For example: Child care centres operating within BHNCDSB schools follow different guidelines. BHNCDSB students attending those centres must adhere to that organization's guidelines while in their care or while using their service.)

Friday, September 18, 2020

The Province has released a NEW online Daily Self-Assessment Tool for staff, students and families of school boards. Please use the UPDATED Ontario COVID-19 School Screening Tool everyday found at https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/

Monday, September 7, 2020

This FAQ update contains information families have been asking about in respect to the re-opening of our schools including items pertaining to COVID-19 cases in the schools.

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

All staff and students are required to conduct daily self-assessments before arriving at school. Please use the UPDATED Ontario COVID-19 School Screening Tool found at https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/

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.

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).

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 and/or testing.

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 to assist 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 daily. Authorized products that are effective against the COVID-19 virus are utilized and are an effective method of sanitizing.

If a student 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 required to self-isolate for 14 days from symptom onset or their test date (if asymptomatic). The individual should also have no fever, and symptoms should be improving for at least 72 hours (if symptomatic). Absence of cough is not required for those known to have chronic cough or those who are experiencing reactive airways post-infection.

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 the COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool.

How long does my child need to stay home? When can my child return to school?

This is dependent on each individual situation:

NEGATIVE WITH LOW-RISK OR NO EXPOSURE

  • If your child tested negative for COVID-19, they can return to school 24 hours after any symptoms have resolved (if they are showing symptoms).
  • You can find your child’s test results online .
  • It is important to note that mild symptoms known to persist in young children (e.g., runny nose) may be ongoing at the time of return to school if other symptoms have been resolved and there is a negative test. Everyone else in the household can return to daycare, school or work once the test result is negative.

NEGATIVE WITH HIGH-RISK EXPOSURE

  • If your child tested negative, but they have been declared a close contact of a confirmed case or travelled out of country, they need to self-isolate for 14 full days before returning to school.
  • Household members will be directed depending on their exposure risk.

POSITIVE

  • If your child tests positive for COVID-19, your local health unit will contact you to determine isolation requirements.
  • Medical notes or proof of negative tests are not required for students to return to school. While your child is awaiting direction from their health care provider and/or waiting for test results, they and everyone living in the same household needs to self-isolate.

I heard someone at my school has COVID-19. Who tested positive? Why won’t you tell me if it was a student, educator or other staff?

The Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic 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. 

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

Please complete the Ontario Self-Assessment Tool to determine your and your child’s next steps. If testing is recommended, then household contacts should self-isolate pending testing and results.

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 did not pass the COVID-19 self-assessment screening. OR My child was sent home from school because they have symptoms.
What do I do?

Students with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 should be tested. Parents and guardians have three options:

  1. Take your child to their health care provider for further assessment. Your child’s health care provider will assess your child and determine whether a COVID-19 test is necessary.
  2. Take your child directly to an assessment centre for testing.
  3. If you refuse options 1 and 2, then your child (and everyone in your household) needs to self-isolate for 14 days.

Your child needs to isolate while waiting for direction from their health care provider and/or while waiting for test results. [UPDATE - 20200921: Your child needs to isolate while waiting for direction from a health care provider and/or while waiting for test results. 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 do not need to self-isolate but should self-monitor.]

My child was sent home from school because they have symptoms, but I do not believe it is 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.
  • Your child needs to isolate while waiting for direction from their health care provider and/or waiting for test results. Members living in the same household as the sick child also need to self-isolate.

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. Members living in the same household as the sick child also need to self-isolate. If your child has been tested for COVID-19, you can see your results online.

I do not 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 school outbreak 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: BHNCDSB REPORTING PAGE

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'. Phone lines are staffed 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. 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.

 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

A look inside our Catholic schools - This brief video shares just some of the safeguards we have put in place for students and staff.

 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Why is the BHNCDSB having a staggered start to the school year? Are other Board’s doing this?

The Ministry of Education, in their guidelines to school boards, included messaging encouraging school boards to consider a staggered entry to the school year. In the BHNCDSB, we are doing this as a measure to further ensure the health and safety of our staff and students.

The start of this school year will have many new routines and expectations for students and the staggered entry is a way to teach and practice these new routines with fewer students, in a controlled environment. It will allow staff to troubleshoot and problem solve these new measures and ensure that the best possible protocols are in place when all the students return.

It is also an opportunity for teachers to work with smaller groups of students to answer questions and welcome them back in a personal and encouraging way to relieve fear and anxiety.

Parents should have already, or will be soon, receiving specific instructions from your school principal with regards to the days your child will start. At this point, we are not aware of any school boards in the province who are not staggering entry to school although it looks very different form board to board.

What will learning look like in my child’s face to face classroom? Will they be sitting all day in their desks?

Students will indeed be doing work at their desks for some of the day. There will be breaks, nutrition breaks, outdoor learning and a variety of differentiated learning opportunities for all students to participate in. We have strongly encouraged as much outdoor learning as possible to allow breaks from the mask and a chance to be out of desks/seats.

Transportation - Will my child lose their seat if they are in remote learning and want to return to the classroom face to face and need transportation?

Students who use transportation and are choosing remote learning, will not lose their seat on the bus should they decide to return to face to face learning. It may take a couple of days to organize the transportation to start up again, but they will be guaranteed a spot.

What if my child is ill and cannot go to school, how will learning continue?

All classroom teachers have a Brightspace learning environment where assignments and instruction can still be shared with the student who is ill and working from home.

Is there Distance Education/Online Learning for students with special needs

Educators will continue to provide accommodations, modified expectations, and alternative programming to students with special education needs, as detailed in their IEPs, working on alternatives and solutions if there are concerns. There will be access to assistive tech, SEA equipment to support students in remote learning as needed.

Are parents allowed to drop off their students on the playground?

Following our re-opening plan, parents are not permitted on the playground or at the entry doors. Schools have created a safe drop off and pick up process that will be shared with families. These procedures will include line of sight drop off and pick up for our youngest students so that children are safely passed from parents to school staff. Please review the procedure once you receive it and reach out directly to your school principal if you still have concerns.

Can families register for Distance Education/Online Learning and be exempted from Synchronous Learning? If so, what is the process?

Yes, families can register for Distance Education/Online Learning and be exempted from Synchronous Learning.

Process:

  • Families must request an exemption from the minimum requirements for synchronous learning in writing (email or letter).
  • The request must be made in writing to the School Principal and include reasons that support the request.
  • To support the student learning, alternative approaches must be put in place for all exempted students, by the remote learning teacher (print materials for example), that is based on the individual student needs and situation. Exempted students must be provided with a schedule/timetable in accordance with the 300-minute instructional day by the remote learning teacher.

If I choose to register my child in Distance Education/Online Learning the process asks me to acknowledge that my child will not be registered in their homeschool anymore. It also says they will be removed from the bus route. What happens if I decide my child should return to in-person learning? Do I have to re-register for my home school or the bus?

These acknowledgements are present so that parents understand they will not receive direct communication form the home school regarding their child. The ‘Virtual School’ will attend to all supports for the child while they are registered with Distance Learning. Should a family wish to stay linked to information and activities in their homeschool, they can access school information and updates through the school website and Twitter.

When a parent opts to have their child return to in-person instruction, the change in registration and return of bussing service will be taken care of by the ‘Virtual School’ and the home school in coordination. The only action required of the parent/guardian will be notification of the intent to return.

Students who use transportation and are choosing remote learning, will not lose their seat on the bus should they decide to return to face to face learning. It may take a couple of days to organize the transportation to start up again, but they will be guaranteed a spot. Please contact Student Transportation Services Brant Haldimand Norfolk for more information at transportation@stsbhn.ca

If we choose Distance Education/Online Learning, when will my secondary child receive information regarding his/her timetable, courses, and teacher?

The registration for ‘Virtual School’ closes on Wednesday, September 2, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. Our team will work to compile the master schedule for both the elementary and secondary school as soon as possible thereafter. Families should expect to see information between September 8 and September 11.

If my secondary child starts the school year in-person, but wants to move to Distance Education/Online Learning afterwards, are they allowed to do so?

If you child is enrolled in a secondary school and begins the school year with in-person classes, they will need to remain in the in-person class until the end of the first term of the quadmester. After that time, they may elect to register for Distance Education/Online Learning. 

The district will remind secondary families, prior to the start of the second term of each quadmester, that the registration deadline to move from in-person learning to Distance Education/Online Learning is approaching.

My secondary child is finding it difficult to register for online classes as they have not yet received their timetable and do not know which two courses they should select for the first term of the quadmester. What should we do?

Secondary timetables will be mailed out or are being picked up at the secondary school by August 31. Once the timetables are received, parents/students will be able to make an informed decision on course selection. Unclaimed timetables can be picked up first day of school/first day students are expected to be on site - based on the staggered start date. You may wish to contact the school guidance office for assistance regarding obtaining timetable information after September 1, 2020.

 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020


The Ministry said many nurses will be hired for the schools. When will my school get their nurse?  

Nurses are not hired by the school district. There will not be a nurse on site. It is our understanding that there may be additional nurses available to assist local public health units (assigned to a group of schools). 

What happens if there are cases of COVID-19 at our school? 

  • Although we have spent a great deal of time already developing plans and collaborating with local public health officials, we are still awaiting final guidelines from the Medical Officer of Health for Ontario. 
  • We do know that each school will be given a dedicated contact at the local public health unit. Public Health takes the lead regarding confirmed cases. 
  • Public health is the organization which determines the actions of suspected and confirmed cases and communicates to any person they feel may have come in contact with a confirmed case.  
  • Public health is the organization that defines an outbreak and, in that instance, whether or not to close a school.  
  • As soon as we receive the outbreak guidelines, we will communicate more information. 

If a staff member or student tests positive for COVID-19, when can they come back to school? 

If someone is suspected of having COVID-19, they should be tested. If the test is positive, and once that person is cleared by their physician or public health to return to the school, they may do so. 

Why has the Board not reduced the class sizes? There should not be so many kids in one room in elementary or high school.  

Class size was not a decision of the Board. The Ministry of Education decided what the return to school in September looked like. The Ministry of Education instructed the Boards to open within the parameters that they determined. The Board is currently looking at school enrolment and examining if there are ways to reduce class size. 

If you are not reducing class size, how are you expecting students to physically distance? How can you guarantee that the desks will be physically distanced? 

Since the Ministry of Education has not directed us to reduce class size, we are unable to reduce the number of desks in a classroom. Many items, not critical to the learning of students, have been removed from the classrooms to help increase space and streamline cleaning protocols. Although we may be able to separate desks more than usual, and we are working hard to accomplish this, we are not able to guarantee that they will be 1 meter apart. Under the direction of public health, anyone unable to physically distance must wear a mask.  

What about emergency procedures like fire drills. Are students going to be filling the hallways? 

As per our plan, emergency procedures will still be practiced, but under modified conditions. Information on how these will be conducted will be share by the Ministry of Education in consultation with emergency services. 

How will secondary schools handle lunch hours?  

Our secondary schools are formulating schedules that will permit students to physically distance while they eat their lunch. 

How are you guaranteeing that washrooms are cleaned? 

We have a cleaning protocol that is in place. We are also posting the maximum recommended number of people in washroom to help promote physical distancing. 

I filled out my survey and now my family has changed our mind about Distance Learning vs In-person learning. Now what? Can I take it over again? 

No worries. If the survey is still open, please revisit it and take it again for each of your children. If the survey has closed, and you want to select Distance Education/Online Learning for your child(ren), when the 'official Distance Education/Online Learning' registration link is shared, simply register your intent. 

I am hearing about staggered entries (different grades returning to school at different days/times). Is our Board having staggered return to school? 

There is a possibility that our district will implement a staggered return to school schedule in an effort to allow students to get used to the new health and safety routine in a controlled environment. We are currently seeking more information from the Ministry of Education and will share updates as soon as possible. 

I always drive my child to school and walk him onto the playground. Can I still do this? 

You will still be able to drive your child to school, but no unauthorized visitors, including parents, will be permitted in the school or on the playground. This is for the safety of our students and staff. As well, we ask that parents exhibit responsible physically distancing behaviour for our students to model (not gathering in the parking lots or on sidewalks).  

I'm worried that I won't be able to see inside the school and know what it will look like for my child in September. Is there any way that I can come to the school for a tour? 

We understand how difficult not seeing the inside of our schools may be for some families. In order to keep our schools as clean as possible and limit access to help keep our students safe, we are not able to open schools up to non-essential visitors. As soon as we are finished posting our signs, foot traffic direction markers, washroom max numbers, etc. we will provide families with a 'view' of what everything looks like inside a school. We are pleased to share that all schools are using the same signs so you can be guaranteed that your school will look like the 'sample' school we will share. 

I’ve chosen to send my child back to school in September. What if, after a week or so, I don’t feel it is safe for her? Can I switch to a Distance Education/Online Learning model? 

Families determine what is best for their children. You are free to choose the learning model that works best for you and your child and can switch to Distance Education/Online Learning. This change will take some time (a few days) as your online teacher needs to become familiar with your child and you will need to be setup in the virtual classroom. Please remember that if you wish to move from Distance Education/Online Learning to the conventional model (the physical classroom), that the change will not happen the next day. There are published pre-determined ‘entry’ points for students. Elementary students may return to the classroom approximately the first of each month and secondary students may return to the classroom three times during the 2020-21 school years (at the end of credit 1 and 2, at the end of credit 3 and 4, at the end of credit 5 and 6). 

Will the teachers be using paper agendas? Should we really be sending items back and forth? 

No, in order to limit shared touch surfaces, we will not be using printed agendas this year. All classes have a corresponding virtual Brightspace environment. Your virtual classroom will be the place where teachers post information (information that can be viewed by all students and families). If the message is specific to just your child or family, the teacher will connect with you via the email address that we have on file at the school or by phone.  
 

Monday, August 17, 2020

What is the Board doing about ventilation in the schools? 

Over the past few years, the BHNCDSB’s renewal plan included long-term, focused investments in ventilation and system improvements. We regularly maintain and make improvements to our existing system in order to ensure our schools and sites are as safe as possible. Much of this work takes place over the summer months and March and Christmas breaks while staff and students are not in the schools. Our integrated, building automation systems allows the Board to quickly implement adjustments and improvements to systems district wide. Moving forward to September, Facility Services will focus on measures to increase ventilation, filtration, optimizing system controls, and increasing the frequency of preventative maintenance on HVAC systems in all our schools, including portables.  

Why can't you provide any information about class size now? It will help me make my decision.

At this time, all parents are making their decisions on if they are choosing remote learning or not. We simply do not have the data yet, on class size, until they do. A classroom that is currently at 20 students could have fewer tomorrow if families choose remote learning education. We are also finalizing our staffing process as we finalize enrolment. We can share that we adhere to maximum class sizes as directed by the Ministry of Education. 

Information on entering and exiting schools: You aren't providing information about how students will enter or exit the school safely. Why not? Where is the plan?

This is different for every one of our schools since they do not share a single design. Each principal is organizing their school to determine, for example, ‘foot traffic flow’, specific entrances and exits, what ‘bus lineups look like to physically distance as much as possible’, etc. There is lots of work taking place over the next few weeks. Principals are organizing plans that are site specific in order to physically distance as much as possible. There will be schedules created based on the students who we know are returning (those numbers might be reduced if families choose distance education) for recesses, movement around the school, etc. Each school's plan is different. This ‘on the ground’ planning is very site-specific so we wouldn’t be organizing or sharing it at the Board-level. Principals will share this information when they are able, closer to the start of school. 

Masking clarification in regards to K-3 and K-12: Why are you only recommending masks for students K-3? This doesn't seem safe. Young children wear them in public, why can't the Board insist that they wear them at school? 

We are following the Ministry direction on this. They have shared mandatory masking for students in Grade 4- 12 and optional masking, although encouraged, for students in the younger grades – JK-12. This is the direction of the Ministry of Education. We did not make this decision. 

Why aren't you providing more information about returning to school if I choose distance/online learning for my child in September? I want to know that I can send her back at any time. If I change my mind today, I want to be able to send her back tomorrow since the class is already there. 

There would be a transition, supported by both the remote learning teacher and the classroom teacher, to ensure student success. We are not saying that you cannot return, but we are organizing ‘re-entry’ points to ensure that student learning does not suffer, the classroom teacher is able to assist with the transition back to conventional learning, and no student is negatively impacted by the change. There will be numerous dates each term, but we do not know what they are yet. We wanted families to know (in order to help them make their decision) that if they decide to have their child return to the classroom, that will not happen the next day or possibly even during the following few weeks, but there will be re-entry points. There may also be an amount of stress that the student experiences when coming back. This, along with student achievement and success, are just a few of the items that need to be addressed during the return to the classroom. No ‘term’ will be lost. This part of the plan is being organized to ensure student success.  

It seems as though an awful lot of the burden of this will fall to the classroom teachers which I think will add to the overall stress of the school and students. I find it unreasonable that you are asking us to make the decision about sending our children back without us knowing more about the safety of the school and how teachers will cope?  

Every staff member will need to do their part to ensure that all students and staff are as safe as possible, within the parameters defined by the Ministry of Education. We will be working together to do this and all staff will receive health and safety training prior to students arriving.. All staff have an important role, from the custodian who cleans and sanitizes the sites, to the principal who is organizing the safe return of their students. We believe that it is best that the decision is made by families since each knows their unique situations. In the short time since the Ministry made their decision, we have shared what we currently know in an attempt to inform families to assist in their decision. As new information is released, it will be posted on our FAQ page found on the Board’s website (accessible from your school website and also accessed from Twitter). 

When will my family know what secondary courses are available to students who might want to choose distance education/online learning? It is difficult to make the choice without knowing.

For families making this decision, it is important to understand that online courses can be taught in different ways: 

  • Remote learning: Learning that occurs when classes are taught at a distance and when students and educators are not in a conventional classroom setting. Remote learning takes place in times of extended interruption to in-person learning. Classes can be synchronous or asynchronous and can be taught online through Brightspace and Teams. In some cases, they may be delivered through emails, print materials, or telephone calls. 
  • Synchronous learning: Learning that happens in real time. Synchronous learning involves using text, video, or voice communication in a way that enables educators and other members of the school- or board-based team to instruct and connect with students in real time (real time interaction between educator and students). Synchronous learning supports the well-being and academic achievement of all students, including students with special education needs, by providing educators and students with an interactive and engaging way to learn. It helps teachers provide immediate feedback to students and enables students to interact with one another. 
  • Asynchronous learning: Learning that is not delivered in real time. Asynchronous learning may involve students watching pre-recorded video lessons, completing assigned tasks, or contributing to online discussion boards. 

BHNCDSB Secondary Courses offered via Distance Education/Online Learning: We have completed our preliminary list and can now share it with families.

It is important to note that students taking an asynchronous course means that they will not be taught by a BHNCDSB educator and that all communication pertaining to that course needs to be facilitated through the partner board offering the course. At this time, Asynchronous courses are very limited and only offered by a few partner boards. As well, they have a cap on ‘external/non-board’ students so spots in those online classes may be difficult to obtain. More information about possible vacancies in Asynchronous course will arrive closer to September. 

How long will my child expect to spend online if we choose Distance Education/Online Learning rather than returning to school in-person? 

The list below outlines the minimum amount of time per day that students (as provided by the Ministry of Education), depending on their grade level, must be provided with synchronous learning as part of their scheduled or timetabled learning. 

Note: This time is in addition to asynchronous learning times. 

  • Kindergarten - 180 minutes 
  • Grades 1 to 3 - 225 minutes 
  • Grades 4 to 8 - 225 minutes 
  • Grades 9 to 12 - The higher of 60 minutes for each 75-minute class period or 225 minutes per day for a full course schedule. 

Important Reminder: If a family chooses distance learning, the student will not be instructed by their regularily scheduled classroom teacher. More details in the August 14 FAQ section.

What happens if I want to switch from Distance Education/Online Learning to in-person learning at my school? When can I send my child back to the classroom?

Families are able to make the change from Distance Education/Online Learning to in-person learning at specific times during the school years as follows:

  • Kindergarten – Grade 8 – Students can move to in-person learning on the first of each month beginning October, 2020
  • Grades 9 - 12 – Students can move to in-person learning at the completion of each quadmester. This means after courses for period 1 and period 2 ‘classes’ are completed at the end of Term 1 (near the end of October, 2020); and after courses for period 3 and period 4 classes are completed (around early January), etc. Students cannot move to in-person learning in the middle of a quadmester. (Exceptions can be discussed with the school Superintendent of Education.)

Will extra-curricular organized sports be offered this year? 

Unfortunately, OFSAA has made the difficult decision to cancel their league competitions for the 2020-21 fall sports season. Regular extra-curricular organized sports will not take place this fall. Schools are encouraged to run clubs and teams (intramural activities for example) where physically distancing can happen safely with a focus on individual sports and individual skills.

 

Friday, August 14, 2020

Will St. Mary Catholic Learning Centre be delivering ALL the Brightspace courses? What if I do not like what they offer?  

We are currently taking an inventory to determine what courses will be available for online delivery. Our goal is to provide as many options as possible. The list will be made available shortly and will be updated as more courses are identified.  Third party providers may be used to offer additional online courses. We are still awaiting further information regarding distance education from the Ministry of Education. 

Will online learning also be quadmestered? 

Yes. Student who elect to begin their online courses in a quadmester must complete those courses in that quadmester. If a student elects to return to their home secondary school in the next term of the quadmester, they may. Students cannot opt out of an online quadmester course whenever they wish. Each quadmester is approximately 46 days. 

With borders opening up, what happens if student or staff have chosen to travel outside of the Province or Canada? 

If a student or staff chooses to travel during the summer break or throughout the school year, the BHNCDSB’s expectation is that students and staff will return in time to serve any required self-isolation period as per Public Health guidelines. 

Do kids have to wear masks ALL day? 

Students will need to wear masks in the classroom, on the bus and wherever they cannot be physically distant if in grades 4-12; optional for students in K-3. 
They do not need masks at recess, when they are outside or when eating snack/lunch. 

Can secondary students leave the school for lunch? 

Currently, we are seeking further direction from Public Health. More information will be shared as information and direction becomes available.   

If I choose conventional learning, can I switch my child to remote if I suddenly don't feel she is safe? 

Yes. Families will have the option to change from conventional to online education. Please remember that if your child is a high school student, course options may be limited, but the school will work with you on the transition.

Will secondary students eat in the cafeteria? 

Currently, we are seeking further direction from Public Health. More information will be shared as information and direction becomes available. Given the different physical footprint of each secondary school and the student population, the decision to use the cafeteria may vary from one secondary school to the next.    

Will my child be forced to go to an assembly even if it is under 50 people? 

  • We are asking for all school wide assemblies to be postponed at this time and be done virtually. 
  • Gatherings for liturgies/assemblies are encouraged to be by class only. 

What happens if my child starts school and then gets ill? I'm assuming that they can automatically switch to Distance Education/Online Learning so they don't lose the whole term?  

Student’s education will be supported virtually during the time they are ill. 

My child will struggle to participate in a long gym class. Will s/he get more breaks? 

This concern can be discussed with the child’s teacher to adjust for support as necessary. 

How will lunch work at the secondary level. My school has over 1000 students. 500 in a lunch area is too many. Even half that is too many.

Currently, we are seeking further direction from Public Health. More information will be shared as information and direction becomes available. 

If my child chooses conventional learning, but does not come back September 8, can they start whenever? 

The Board recommends that all students start on the same day. If there are specific reasons why a student cannot start on the first day, families should contact the school principal. 

Will Distance Education/Online Learning be face-to-face using Microsoft Teams or will it just be assignments? Wondering if my child will 'talk' to a teacher. 

Brightspace is the primary tool that will be used to deliver online and synchronous learning. Teachers delivering online learning will be expected to teach a portion of the course in real time. Teachers will work with their students to determine the most effective ways to communicate with each other. We are awaiting further clarification from the Ministry of Education with regards to a distance education schedule. 

Can my child take Distance Education/Online Learning courses from another country? 

Students must enrol in online courses that follow the Ontario curriculum guidelines. 

I noticed that between March and June, all my child's teachers did not post using Brightspace. Will all teachers have Brightspace classes set up in case an outbreak occurs, and we need to switch to total online learning? 

  • All teachers will have their Brightspace classrooms set up prior to school starting with the expectation that there are opportunities for parents/students to engage in that platform to ensure accessibility and have questions answered on how to use the platform, in case we need to switch to full distance learning. 
  • There will be a guide shared with families as well to help access this learning platform at the start of the school year.

I only want to send my JK child to school every other day. Is this possible? Will he have to participate in online learning on the days he isn't in the school? 

JK/K student attendance is not mandatory; however, all families must choose ONE method of instruction. Families will not receive both conventional AND distance education/online learning for a single child.

With play-based learning in Kindergarten, how will the toys be kept clean? So many children, who won't be wearing masks, are playing with them. There is no way to ensure they are sanitized for my child. 

  • Toys/resources that can be easily disinfected will be used. 
  • Staff will have clear guidelines for how to sanitize the resources and use them safely to limit sharing of the resources amongst students. 

If a student moves from conventional in-school learning to Distance Education/Online Learning, (due to fear, illness or choice) how will marks be determined?  

Student marks will be determined by the assessments completed regardless of delivery model (Distance or Conventional), and work from each will be combined to determine a final mark. This will be done on a case by case scenario. 

If my secondary child goes back to school and then gets ill or we choose to switch to Distance Education/Online Learning, how do I know that the two courses they are taking will also be offered online?  

The board will endeavour to provide as many online courses as possible that are currently offered in face to face day school. Should a student need to leave the face to face class due to illness, a meeting should be scheduled with St. Mary Catholic Learning Centre staff to discuss what options are available to the student to ensure continuity of learning and minimize any disruption to academic programming.   

I suspect kids might be kept home more due to a cough or cold a lot this year. Will teachers be posting more information in their Brightspace classrooms so kids can keep up to date? 

We are asking that parents be vigilant in ensuring that students who are displaying signs of illness be kept at home. Like during a regular school year, educators will assist in keeping students up-to-date with learning.

Can French Immersion families choose Distance/Online Learning? What will that program look like online? 

French Immersion families can still choose Distance Education/Online Learning as an option. We are currently working on how this program will look. 

How many students are in a regular high school class?  

This varies but class size will be set according to the provincial aggregate average of 23:1. 

What is the process for registering my child in Distance Education/Online Learning?  

Details and a process will be made available shortly. We will be contacting everyone who responds to the family survey with their intent to register for Distance Education/Online Learning.

What do kids in a 3/4 split class do in regard to masks? My child is in grade 4 and I want to ensure that she is in a room where every student is masked.  

Students in a grade 3 /4 split will be expected to wear masks unless the student has a reason why they cannot wear a mask. 

What if my child is late? What is the process when I get to the school? Can I bring her in? 

Individual schools will develop specific school protocols for students who arrive after the bell/start time. 

What if my child forgets his lunch? How do I get food to him? 

Parents may wish to contact the school for further direction and to discuss what options the school is making available should this situation present. The Board is currently developing a contactless delivery process. 

How are you going to sanitize playground equipment between cohorts playing on it? Is there a dedicated person standing there cleaning the equipment all recess? 

  • A cohort or class will be able to use the equipment on a scheduled basis. 
  • Schedules will help limit the use of the equipment and how often it is needed to be sanitized. 
  • If a staff member chooses to have their class use the equipment, they will need prepare a strategy to disinfect it for the next class to use it. 
  • Equipment is closed for public use as well so only school children and childcare will have access to it following cleaning protocols. 

My child is in JK and doesn't have an OEN (Ontario Education Number) yet. Can I still take the Return to School Survey? 

Yes, no worries. Please just leave the OEN question blank. 

What will kids do at recess if contact sports/games are not permitted and they are too old for the playground equipment? 

There will be guidelines and activity options shared with teachers as outlined by OPHEA for safe games/activities to play at recess meeting physical distance requirements.  

Where will my child put her mask when she goes outside at recess? I don't think her pocket is the best place for it. 

Your child’s teacher will provide direction on where to put the mask when students go to recess. 

I keep calling the school for more information about what the first day will look like, but nobody calls me back. When will someone be there? 

  • Office staff return to school August 24, 2020. If you require assistance, please call the school as only visitors with pre-arranged appointments will be permitted in the building.
  • Principals will be sharing information shortly to their communities indicating start up and first day of school details. 

What is the school going to do about students who refuse to wear a mask or keep taking their masks off? 

Student refusal to comply with school rules and protocols falls under progressive discipline and school administrators will deal with these issues on a case by case basis. 

I want to know how many kids will be in my child’s class in September. I need to know this information so that I can make an informed decision about sending my child back to school or choosing Distance Education/Online Learning. Who do I contact? How do I contact them before my choice and the survey is due? 

At this point we do not know the exact numbers in a particular class as we know that parents may choose to keep their children at home and we are currently completing our staffing process.