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Operational Guidelines for Schools

Access to Schools and Administrative Buildings

  • Access to sites will be limited to staff, students, and authorized/pre-authorized visitors and volunteers only.
  • Visitors (including parents/guardians) and volunteers (pre-authorized by the school administrator) to any BHNCDSB site will be by appointment only. Wherever possible, telephone/video meetings with parents/guardians will be held.
  • Where possible, all but the main entry doors must remain locked during normal operating hours. Where it is not possible to lock all but the main doors, alternative entries must have signs placed on the doors directing visitors/volunteers to use the main entry.
  • Mail and deliveries should be contactless where possible.
  • All staff and regular visitors to schools must demonstrate proof of full vaccination or will need to show a negative rapid antigen test within the previous 5 days.

Arrival/Departure Procedures

  • Each Principal may need to alter/enhance entry/exit from school to include physical distancing protocols. This may include beginning arrival/dismissal procedures earlier to assist with physical distancing – i.e. staggered entry/dismissal times.
  • School staff and/or parents/guardians should avoid congregating and socializing in groups. Where possible physical distancing must be observed.

Before/After School Child Care, EarlyON Programs

Before and After School Care

Arrival and Program of Students - Before School programs

  • Students will be expected to exit the child care program through the program’s designated outside doors (program normally ends morning outside to allow students to gather with their cohort) and then enter the school with the rest of their classmates through their classroom/cohort doors.
  • At this time, parents dropping off children to the Before/After school program are considered visitors and need to adhere to the current school access guidelines.
  • Every student will sanitize their hands upon entering the school.
  • Follow program’s and school’s screening protocols.
  • Toys/materials to follow guidelines outlined in Ministry and BHNCDSB protocols.
  • Snack time protocols to be followed as outlined by the Ministry.
  • Outdoor play is encouraged.
  • Physical distance when in doors.
  • Masks to be worn as outlined in school guidelines.
  • Cleaning and all other health and safety protocols (outbreak management) are to be followed.

Departure and Program of Students - After School programs

  • Students will exit the school through their assigned outside doors and enter the child care program through its designated location.
  • At this time, parents dropping off children to the Before/After school program are considered visitors and need to adhere to the current school access guidelines.
  • Students will not travel, as much as possible, through the school to enter the child care program. This group of students should be the last group to leave the classroom.
  • Each program may have a variation of the departure as set up at the local site.

Cafeteria/Lunch Area

  • Activities that involve the sharing of food between children or staff should not occur.
  • Pre-packaged snacks/food the child can open on their own should be sent to school. Food sent to school should be kept with the child’s belongings.
  • Students should eat and drink in the classroom or designated lunchroom/cafeteria and maintain physical distancing whenever possible. No food or drink should be shared with others.
  • Breakfast and snack programs may continue to provide food to students; however, they must not allow family style meal service, and the children must not serve themselves. Food provided should be pre-packaged whenever possible. The Board is currently working with the Child Nutrition Network (Haldimand and Norfolk) and Brant Food for Thought (Brantford and Brant County) on what the programs may look like.
  • Food provided by the family should be stored with the child’s belongings or, if refrigeration is required, should be kept in an area designated for the child’s cohort and should not be handled by other cohort staff.
  • Although the Board does not encourage lunch deliveries, in situations where a student forgot their lunch, contactless delivery is available at the front entrance. A student will be called by the main office to come and pick up their delivered lunch.
  • Vending machines are high touch surfaces, and hands should be sanitized before and after use.
  • Students are encouraged to bring any necessary food and drink from home, keeping in mind that microwaves and fridges will not be available.

Can my child use the cafeterias at lunch?

  • Students may eat together indoors maintaining physical distancing whenever possible.
  • There will be capacity limits in the cafeteria, staggered lunch times, and encouragement to remain in cohorts and to eat outdoors when weather permits. Students are permitted to eat off campus.
  • At this time, traditional cafeteria services at our secondary schools will not be provided until further notice.

Classroom Set-up

  • To prepare classrooms, items that cannot be easily cleaned by the custodial staff, will need to be removed from the classroom. Personal items belonging to educators should be taken home to assist in reducing clutter.
  • Students will be asked to leave any unnecessary personal items at home and keep their desks clean and uncluttered to ensure proper cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Staff will be required to keep their desk area clear of any clutter to ensure daily cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Teaching staff will consider student seating in classrooms where collaborative tables are present to ensure distancing requirements are respected to the best of our ability.

Community Use of Schools

  • At this time, all Community Use of Schools rentals are suspended. Once we return and evaluate the use of the schools (currently, we are required to provide our sites to Elections Canada/Ontario and local public health units for vaccination and screening clinics), rental permits may be offered again.
  • Our goal is to review and provide direction on possible rentals in the near future.

English Language Learners

  • We will ensure families understanding all communications of new protocols and safety measures.
  • We will ensure parents and students are familiar with their rights and obligations and opportunity for support and accessibility.
  • We support diagnostics early to determine gaps and remediation to mitigate loss of English language.
  • We provide access to technology, training in use of the technology for students and parents.
  • We will provide over the phone interpretation services and communications in translations.
  • Central staff will provide social stories and other videos in other languages.

Emergency Procedures

  • Emergency procedures including drills will continue using the flexible approach and consistent with the previous school year. Fire drills will occur as scheduled and in accordance with the memo and guidance as outlined by the Ontario Fire Marshall’s Office on August 3, 2021.
  • Facility Services continues to monitor any further adjustments with our community partners.

Field Trips/Day Trips

  • Field trips/day trips for educational purposes are permitted and should follow the relevant provincial requirements under the Reopening Ontario Act. Schools must also adhere to all Board policies that pertain to planning and conducting field trips including the approval by the school administrator or Superintendent of Education. 
  • Overnight field trips are paused at this time.

Main Office Areas

Plexiglass protection (i.e. sneeze guards) and directional floor signage will continue to be utilized in the main office and possibly other areas of schools and board sites.

Meet the Teacher Nights

These welcome events are important and should be facilitated virtually through digital and remote learning tools which can include synchronous events, videos, phone calls, as well as a variety of other modes of communication to parents. At this time, only outdoor in-person events may be considered (adhering to strict COVID-19 safety protocols) and are at the discretion of the school administrator. 

Movement in Schools

Directional signs and stickers are installed throughout each school to minimize close contact between students and help limit the amount of people in one space. Signage is posted all around the school including in common spaces such as washrooms, libraries, bus loading zones, gymnasiums, etc. Plexiglass dividers will also be used in offices and classrooms to provide further protection and distancing amongst staff and students.

Photocopy, Staff Rooms, Occupancy and Meetings

  • Staff can still utilize the photocopier, printer, or various other types of equipment; however, they are encouraged to share work digitally where possible.
  • Use of a photocopy/work room should be limited to one person at any given the time. Depending on the size of the rooms, the number of people may be increased, as long as physical distancing is achievable.
  • Staff must wash their hands before and after using shared equipment. Equipment must also be wiped down with approved disinfectant. 
  • Room Occupancy signs are posted outside some rooms to show how many people can be in a space at the same time. This calculation was created by Public Health officials with square footage of each room in mind. This signage ensures physical distancing is followed.

School Nutrition Programs (Child Nutrition Network/Brant Food for Thought)

  • School Nutrition Programs will be offered this year at participating schools.
  • All staff and volunteers will adhere to health and safety guidelines including masking/PPE, vaccination disclosure, etc.
  • At this time, elementary breakfast programs (before the school day start) are on hold. 

Recess Breaks

  • Students will participate in recess with cohorts/classmates as much as possible. 
  • Recess breaks may be staggered to limit the number of students in the school yard depending on yard space and ability to maintain a compliant supervision schedule.
  • Play structures and/or sports fields can be open with a schedule for one cohort/class of students at a time and disinfecting in-between use.

Science/Music/Tech Areas

  • Science, music and shop teachers will implement ongoing disinfection of high touch areas within the classroom and will educate, direct and supervise students to ensure adequate cleaning and disinfection of PPE, equipment, supplies and tools before and after use.
  • Educators will request/obtain additional disinfectant and paper towels from custodial staff as required.
  • Music programs are permitted (singing and use of instruments) with physical distancing measures and masking when possible. Outdoor classes are encouraged (weather permitting).
  • Students will continue to use their own mouth pieces, provided by the school, for music instruments.
  • Mouth pieces shall not be shared.
  • The sharing of instruments should be avoided if possible. 

Sign In/Out Procedures

  • All authorized visitors, contractors, maintenance, IT staff, itinerant, Board office staff and anyone that is not a BHNCDSB staff member or student of the school must, in all cases, check-in at the main office of the location to sign in and out. Swipe card access is not sufficient for sign in/out purposes. The same procedures will be in effect for all administrative buildings.
  • Casual staff will continue to be required to sign in prior to their assignment and sign out upon leaving the school. It is imperative, for contact tracing, that casual staff indicate what their assignment is in when signing in.
  • All persons who access the school outside of regular school hours must have permission, in advance, from their supervisor. This is a safeguard that is in line with our Working Alone protocol as well as our COVID-19 contact tracing procedure. In addition, all persons who access the school after hours must sign in and sign out and identify all areas accessed so that custodial staff are aware and can ensure that all occupied areas have been cleaned daily.
  • Each sign in/out location should be equipped with pens and hand sanitizer.


Signage to assist with physical distancing, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, one-way/directional markers, and access requirements can be found throughout schools and buildings. The signage and its us is consistent throughout the district.

Toys and Manipulatives

  • Materials and resources that students come in contact with during the day can be shared.
  • Only items which can be easily disinfected will be selected to be used.
  • Educators will disinfect toys and manipulatives as required. No plush toys.
  • If furniture, toys, manipulatives need to be moved to create space for physical distancing, schools will need to isolate classrooms/non-used areas for storage of school purchased furniture and materials that have been temporarily removed from classrooms.

Visitors and Volunteers

At this time, all visitors must contact the school, in advance, to arrange an appointment. If an individual does not have a scheduled appointment, he/she must contact the office using the ‘buzzer’ upon arrival at an elementary school or immediately report to the office at the secondary level.

All volunteers must be pre-approved by the school administrator, adhere to the site sign in/out procedures, and follow all health and safety guidelines.

All visitors (including parents/guardians) and volunteers must adhere to 'Staff - Masking, PPE Guidelines and Expectations' of the Board.

Workplace Inspections

Through the Joint Health & Safety Committee, workplace inspections related to COVID-19 measures will be conducted on a monthly basis. A checklist has been added to the eBASE workplace inspection module to ensure that the following measures are in place.

  • General Precautions - Posters in place providing directions (hand washing, social distancing, screening, respiratory etiquette, etc.)
  • PPE requirements
  • Physical Distancing measures in place
  • Hand Hygiene - posters / stickers in place in washrooms and classroom sinks
  • Isolation room equipped with supplies (list supplies required)
  • First aid kit equipped with additional masks and gloves

Monthly and annual workplace inspections will continue as normal throughout the school year.