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School Re-opening Plan and Continued Communication

This page is dedicated to ongoing updates and communications to families. As new information arrives, it will be added here. Please subscribe to the Board or school websites to ensure that you receive an 'update' alert in your email inbox. 

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.

August 25, 2020

Official Distance Education/Online Learning Registration Process open. Opportunity to register closes September 2, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.

August 24, 2020

Revised Secondary Quadmester Timetable

August 24, 2020

Message from Chair of the Board, Rick Petrella

Message to families – August 24, 2020

Dear families,

I would like to thank you for your patience and support as we continue to navigate through these unprecedented times. We understand that the re-opening of our schools this September has cause a great deal of uncertainty for our families. We would, once again, like to assure you that health and safety is our top priority and that we continue to follow the direction of Public Health Ontario, our local public health units (BCHU and HNHU) and the Ministry of Education.

As part of our commitment to provide regular updates as they become available, I would like to share the following updates with you today:


At the end of June, the BHNCDSB presented our secondary model to the Ministry of Education. The Ministry approved the plan which then was moved forward to our Board of Trustees who unanimously approved its direction and implementation. The plan was then shared with staff, families, and members of the community.  

Recent new direction from the Ministry of Education pertaining to a requirement to ‘count student contacts’ has put us in a very unique position that requires us to make changes to that plan. Like many other school boards in the Province, we have now been directed and required by the Ministry of Education to change our “return to school” model at the secondary level. Our secondary schools will still run on a quadmester schedule, but now with students attending only one subject (class) each day. The second subject (class) will run the following week. The two subjects (classes) will alternate weekly until the end of the Term. Students will continue to attend everyday but instead of taking two courses each day they will take one. View the new quadmester timetable on our website.

We apologize for this change and realize that it may have added further uncertainty for families, but we just received this information from the Ministry late last week and asked to implement the new schedule. Schools will be reaching out to you this week with respect to student timetables. We understand that this new model may cause some families to reconsider the choice they expressed in the parent School Re-opening Survey. We will be releasing the Official Distance Education/Online Learning Registration process next week. This will be the opportunity for families to choose distance learning if that is what they are most comfortable with.

I understand and share your concern that this change may have added further uncertainty for families, but the new direction we just received from the Ministry was clear and we were directed to implement this new schedule as a result. Schools will be reaching out to you this week with respect to student timetables. We understand that this new model may cause some families to reconsider the choice they expressed in the parent survey. I want to assure everyone that regardless of the selection you made during the registration process we will permit you to adjust to the delivery model that you feel most comfortable with.

Staggered Start to the School Year

The Ministry of Education has allowed school boards to stagger the start of the school year for up to two weeks in an effort to ensure that important health and safety protocols and routines can be established with students in a smaller, controlled environment. Understanding the importance of health and safety, we are using this time to introduce and review what practices and processes are included in this year’s return to school. Students will transition back into a very different school than they left.

Staggered entry does not apply to students with significant special education needs as it has been identified that it is essential for the student to attend school on all days. These are students in self-contained special education classes, on an alternative report cards and require significant ongoing assistance throughout the entire school day. We welcome these students back to school beginning on Tuesday, September 8, 2020.


Students will return to school based on grade beginning on Tuesday, September 8, 2020. All in-class students will be fully returned to school by Wednesday, September 16, 2020. Distance Education/Online Learning students will engage in check-ins and information sessions via Brightspace with their teachers. School Administrators will provide the secondary staggered start date schedules later this week.

Elementary including St. Mary’s Catholic Learning Centre

Students will return to school on staggered days based on the local school decision (by alphabetical order, keeping siblings attending on the same days). The first day of the staggered cycle is Tuesday, September 8, 2020.

All in-class students JK to Grade 8 and St. Mary’s Catholic Learning Centre students will be fully returned to school by Wednesday, September 16, 2020. Principals will send out the individual schedules for each school this week. The expectation is to have at least one quarter of the school population attend at least once the first week of school.

We understand that this may cause some issues around childcare and that is why we chose to stagger the entry alphabetically in an effort to ensure that students in each household will attend the same day. All families will be receiving communication from your schools this week which will clarify the breakdown of students according to that school and when your child or children will be attending.

Junior Kindergarten students will follow a different staggered entry process that will focus on the important transition they are making to school. School staff will reach out to these families separately with specific details.

Remote Learning Students

Students in remote learning will start September 16, 2020 with some introductory activities and accessibility check-ins starting September 14, 2020. School staff will be in touch with additional information within the next few weeks. Registration for Distance Education/Online Learning will open for all students, elementary and secondary, on Wednesday Aug 26, 2020.

Our board is committed to ensuring a safe and smooth return to school for our students. We are always committed to regularly evaluating and adjusting protocols and scenarios as developments occur. Our board has made the proper investments and adjustments to ensure we are providing the best and safest environment for our students under these challenging times.

For now, we ask that you continue to move forward and reach out if you need help. I encourage each of you to visit the Frequently Asked Questions page of our website , visit the Board’s website for updates as we share them, and feel free to contact us if you have any questions or require assistance.

I wish you well and will continue to provide you with information as I receive it.

God bless,
Rick Petrella, Chair of the Board

August 18, 2020

Revised list of Distance Learning Courses for Students

August 17, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions for Families - (Answers to new questions sent to us by families including HVAC, Distance Learning, and available courses)

August 12, 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions for Families

August 10, 2020

Message to Families from Chair of the Board, Rick Petrella

Dear families,

In line with my promise to provide a comprehensive and well-developed re-opening plan, I am pleased to share that the Board of Trustees have approved the plan that was presented to us at the August 10, 2020 Meeting of the Board of Trustees. Our final Return to School Plan includes items such as bussing, suspected Covid-19 cases, outbreak protocols, choosing Distance Education, and other critical items. As a parent with a child in our system, I am also in a position where I need to know details in order to ensure that my child is as safe as she can possibly be, when she returns in September.

The following documents contain all the information that you will need to make an informed decision about the September return to school and includes what we are doing ‘on the ground’ to help your children learn safely. We encourage you to review them.

As we move towards the first day for students, September 8, more information will be added to the plan and messaged out to families and staff. As September approaches, please feel free to reach out to your local trustee, school principal or email for information that you cannot find in the plan.

We thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate through this pandemic and work towards a safe September re-opening.

God Bless,

Rick Petrella, Chair of the Board