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Weekly Update – September 21 – 25

The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived. ~ unknown

Administrator’s Message
The health and well-being of our students, families and staff members remains our priority. Our school board is working very closely with Halton Region Public Health to ensure that the appropriate health and safety protocols are in place and being followed. Stopping the spread of COVID-19 is a community effort, and therefore, working together will ensure a safe and healthy environment in the classroom, at home, and in our greater community. Please continue to follow the advice of our Public Health professionals by monitoring for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and keeping your children home from school if they are ill.

The mental well-being of our students is as important as their physical health. We continue to find new and innovative ways to build mentally healthy classrooms in both our school and remote learning spaces. Thank you for your ongoing support as we remain committed to providing a quality Catholic education that is flexible and engaging. In creating and maintaining a strong sense of community, we are confident that we will be able to ensure a safe, healthy, and meaningful school year for all.

Ms. E. Carey       Mr. C. Tilley

New COVID -19 Self-Assessment Tool
The Ontario government released a new online screening tool for schools – It is extremely important that parents/guardians complete this screening test each morning with each of their children before they come to school each day. Staff members are also required to complete the screening assessment daily before coming to work. Let’s all do our part to ensure the safety of all!

Based on the new criteria in the school screening tool, the following changes to our previous screening protocol will now apply:  

  • Household members and close contacts of a symptomatic individual are no longer required to self-isolate unless they have symptoms. This means that unless otherwise directed by Public Health or a health care provider, siblings are not required to stay home or miss school while awaiting test results for the symptomatic student 
  • However, if a household member (including siblings) has COVID-19 symptoms, they are required to self-isolate while awaiting test results
  • In cases where a person tests positive for COVID-19, all close contacts and household members (including siblings) will be required to self-isolate and will require clearance from Halton Public Health before returning to school

The attached chart attached below outlines the revised Return to School Protocol for Students with COVID-19 symptoms. 

Return to School Protocol for Students with COVID-19 Symptoms.pdf

COVID-19 Advisory Board
The HCDSB has posted a COVID-19 Advisory Board on the Return to School site that provides the number of active confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in connection to HCDSB schools. Please note that this chart will track any active confirmed positive COVID-19 cases connected to any of our school communities, but it does not necessarily mean the individual was exposed at school.

Switching Between Remote and In-School Learning
Families will have the opportunity to switch between in-school instruction and remote learning at three identified points in the year:

  • After Thanksgiving
  • After Christmas
  • After March Break

The application process to switch from in-school instruction to remote learning and vice versa will be available as of September 21st, 2020.

School Reorganization Update
As more families choose remote online learning – virtual school, further school reorganization may need to take place during the month of September. If changes are necessary, student class placement and staffing changes may be required. In that case, families will be communicated to promptly via email this week.

Safe & Caring Schools Presentations
On Friday, September 18th, all students from Grades 1-8 watched a PowerPoint presentation created by Ms. Carey and Mr. Tilley in which the school rules and Code of Conduct were reviewed. Classroom teachers showed these presentations on their classroom Interactive Whiteboards. Covid-19 safety protocols, student expectations surrounding the use of Personal Electronic Devises, and indoor and outdoor safety rules were among the topics covered in the presentations. Parents can review the school Code of Conduct in the front of their child’s agenda.    

Lunchtime Supervisor Position
Our school requires additional lunch time supervisors. This is a paid position that involves supervising our students, inside and outside, from 11:25 am to 12:25 pm daily. If you or someone you know is interested in a part-time employment opportunity, please contact the Main Office as soon as possible.

Arrival & Dismissal Routines
-Only one parent/guardian will be permitted to drop-off and pick-up their children 
-Supervision begins at 8:05am.
-Students enter the playground and walk to their cohort zone. Exception: Kindergarten and Grade 1 – 4/5 students enter the building directly upon arrival
Parents and caregivers are asked to leave the school property as soon as they drop off their child/ren. There should be no gathering or congregating on school property 
 -Please consider other alternatives for getting to school
-Dogs on school property – although we love our four-legged friends, some of our children have severe allergies and are frightened by an encounter with a dog. Our school board prohibits dogs on school property for the protection of your children as well as for the protection of your pet

Students from K–Grade 8 are required to wear a mask at school. Face shields may be worn in addition to masks but notas a substitute. During outdoor recess breaks children are not required to wear their mask, however, they may choose to wear it. All students have been provided with a plastic bag/storage container to store their mask at their desk when not in use. We promote proper hand hygiene when “donning and doffing” masks – putting masks on and taking them off. Our goal is to prevent cross-contamination and to preserve the integrity of the mask for your child’s safety. Families should consider providing an additional mask for children in case a back-up mask is needed during the day and to facilitate every day washing of a cloth mask. Please review Halton Region Tip sheet for use of Non-Medical Masks. Each student has been provided with 1 cloth mask. Parents are asked to please label their child’s masks.

Visitor Protocol
This school year, to minimize contacts and help prevent the potential spread of COVID-19, we are limiting visitor access to our school.  All visitors, including parents and HCDSB staff who are not assigned to our school, will require approval and pre-screening before entering our building. Only visits that are deemed essential will be approved (e.g. visits by the Fire Marshal’s office, Public Health). Where possible, meetings or visits will be conducted virtually. Visitors who are granted approval will be required to complete an online screening form prior to arriving at our school. Once inside, all visitors will be required to wear masks. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we do all we can to ensure a safe and healthy return to school for all.   

Lunches & Water Bottles
A reminder to ensure that your child is sent to school with enough snacks, a healthy lunch and a reusable water bottle each day. With our COVID-19 protocols in place, parents/guardians are unable to visit the school to drop items off for students. Your support in building these lunch and snack routines is appreciated.

Safe Arrival & Reporting Absences
The safety and well-being of our students is our highest priority, and SafeArrival will enhance our existing student attendance procedure by making it more convenient for parents to report a child’s absence, and more efficient for our school office staff to follow up sooner on unexplained absences.

If a child is absent and the office has not been notified the SchoolMessenger system will begin automatic calls to you, if there is still no answer, we are required by law to call the police.  

The SafeArrival system is available 24/7, allowing you to report your child’s absence in one of three ways:

  1. Using the SchoolMessenger® mobile app
  2. By logging into the SchoolMessenger® web site
  3. By calling into an interactive toll-free phone line

Learn more about how to report your child’s absence here:

Virtual Curriculum Night
We are in the midst of planning our annual Curriculum Night presentations. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, presentations will take place virtually this year. Families will be able to meet their child’s educator(s) and explore the curriculum your child will learn this year. More information to follow.

Student Information Packages
All students from Kindergarten to Grade 8 have received a package of information and forms that parents/guardians must review and return to school. These forms include:

  • Student Registration Verification – please make any necessary changes or updates and return to the school
  • Family Information and Consent – please complete and return to the school
  • Technology and Digital Citizenship – please complete and return to the school
  • Curricular Physical Education – please complete and return to the school

Please ensure that these are returned to your child’s classroom teacher by Friday, September 25th, 2020.

School Cash Online
School Cash Online is an easy and safe way to pay for your children’s school fees. Now, with a few clicks, you can pay for your child’s school expenses from your own home. All you have to do is register an account, attach your children’s information and in no time you will be able to make payments online. You can sign up or confirm your account details here:

Connecting with your Child’s Teacher
The staff of St. Gabriel CES have started to connect with families via phone or email. If you wish to speak to your child’s teacher an appointment is necessary. Please leave a voice mail message for your child’s teacher and they will return your call in a timely manner. If you have a concern regarding your child, the first call should be directed to the classroom teacher. When it comes to your children, they are the ones best suited to listen to your concerns and determine the appropriate next steps. Please do them the courtesy of a phone call or email should a concern arise.

Duty to Report
Within our school board, every person who has reason to believe that a child is or may be abused or neglected must report his/her suspicions directly to the Halton Children’s Aid Society. You can learn more about this responsibility here:

Bicycle Safety
It is wonderful to see so many of our students are riding their bikes to school. If your children ride their bicycles to school, we remind you to ensure that their bicycles are roadworthy, that your children are familiar with the rules of the road, and that their bicycles conform to local municipal by-laws with respect to licensing, operation and equipment. All students need to wear helmets when riding a bicycle. They must ride them to the edge of school property and then walk their bike to the bike rack which is not situated in the middle part of the backyard of the school.

Leaving During the Day
We are requesting that parents/guardians limit the number of times a student will be leaving early during the day. Students leaving school outside of normal dismissal time should be picked up at the front doors to the school only. Please be aware that students will not be allowed to leave the school without a note/email from the parent/guardian. In addition, the office must be aware if students are to be picked up by anyone other than the parent/guardian.

Bus Notifications
Parents and guardians are encouraged to subscribe to receive bus route delay notification emails. To subscribe visit

Student Insurance
Parents who wish to purchase additional insurance protection for their children in the case of an accident at school or while participating in non-school activities are encouraged to visit the Insure my Kids Protection Plan website at This is an optional offering for parents supported by the Halton Catholic District School Board.

Orange Shirt Day
Students are encouraged to wear an orange shirt on Wednesday, September 30th, 2020. Orange Shirt Day is celebrated annually in recognition of our indigenous community. It is an affirmation of our commitment to ensure that everyone around us matters. Our Catholic Social Teachings call us in Solidarity with our indigenous sisters and brothers to honour the human dignity in all.

PROMOTING WELL-BEING: Back to School Transition
The back-to-school transition is always an important one for families. This year’s return to classes, amid the safety questions and uncertainties related to the Covid-19 pandemic, will be like no other in recent memory. The specific concerns and decisions facing individual families across the nation will vary depending on numerous factors. One factor all parents will be dealing with is the extra stress of uncertainty.

The Psychology Foundation of Canada has been at the forefront of efforts to acknowledge and address the stress of children and families for over 20 years. Please refer to the following for some words of advice and strategies developed by experts on how to manage the stress of this year’s transition to school.

  • Learn to accept uncertainty and be prepared to learn and adjust as the year progresses
    Challenging situations feel less stressful when we think that we understand what is going on. That helps us prepare and figure out what we can do to make a situation less stressful. Right now, we cannot possibly understand all the implications of this year’s return to school this fall. While it is a good idea to be well-informed, recognize the possibility that trying to eliminate uncertainty may actually be stressful. We are all going to learn and adjust as we go along and that is just the way things are right now for communities world-wide.
  • Problem-solving won’t always be the answer
    Another of our go-to ways of managing stress is to solve the problem that is causing the stress. Solve the problem and our stress goes away. Right? Not so much in this case. While there are decisions and actions you will need to take, parents cannot solve all the problems related to re-schooling children in the midst of a pandemic. This fall it may be more helpful to focus on coping with and recovering from the stressors we are unable to avoid.
  • Try to decrease your stress
    When we are overstressed, some of our responses to stress can actually increase our stress in the long run. So, in a quiet moment, reflect on what you are doing in response to stress. Might any of them be increasing your stress in the long term? How do you come across to your loved ones? 
  • Be mindful of how you think about stressors
    The stressors that bother us are, almost by definition, negative. But when we dwell excessively on negative thoughts about the stressor, we can get into a pessimistic loop that feeds our bad feelings and interfere with our communication with others. Changing the way you think about a stressor involves learning to:
    – accept and adapt to stress you can’t change, without giving up
    – recognize when negative thoughts are increasing our feelings of stress
    – challenge our negative thoughts, so we can think about stressors in less negative and more flexible ways
    – plan small steps for self-care
    – remind yourself of your blessings amidst the daily challenges 
  • Try not to add to the stress of others
    Let us keep in mind that everyone else is experiencing extra stress these days, especially front-line workers in schools. You can be sure your child’s teacher and principal are doing their best to handle a lot of pressure, new demands, and new worries. When communicating with educators, remember that your partnership will help your child’s transition back to school. 
  • Help your kids cope
    Most parents do this instinctively. But there is more to it than just getting kids to act bravely or trying to explain things in ways that ease their worries. It is important to give kids constructive ways to “reset” into a more relaxed and happy state. Play is one of the best coping mechanisms for children (and not just electronic play). Kids need unstructured, active, and outdoor play. Play with them age appropriate family games. Recreational activities are good for you, too, and help you stay connected with your children.
  • Be a role model
    Given the unknowns of the current situation, it is natural for parents to have some worries about sending their kids off to school. However, whether you choose in-school or at-home learning, it is important to model confidence and optimism to your children. Kids pick up on and pay attention to parents’ facial expressions and non-verbal cues. Our anxiety can affect them, but so too can our confidence and courage.
  • Keep doing things you enjoy
    One of the most important ways to manage the negative impacts of stress is to do enjoyable, healthy things that make us feel good. Coping with stress requires energy. Doing things we enjoy, even in small steps, helps us get back into a positive frame of mind and replenishes the energy we use in coping with stress.
  • Practice a stress-busting lifestyle
    Lifestyle habits like getting enough rest, physical activity, good nutrition and social contacts bolster our ability to manage stress.
  • Reach out for support
    Getting (and giving!) social support from others is an important strategy for relieving stress. In fact, our brains are wired for this coping strategy. But some kinds of social contact can add to our stress. Focus in getting support, in safe ways, from people who understand and care about you and can help you feel hopeful and more calm. 
  • Most important of all: the parent-child connection
    Positive daily relationship with a parent is one of a child’s best buffers against stress. So with everything else you have to attend to this fall, be sure to do things to stay connected with your kids in order to help them strengthen their resiliency.

The Psychology Foundation of Canada has many free online stress resources including: 

Resources for Parents Stress Strategies: our interactive, online stress management tool

Thank you to Workplace Strategies for Mental Health for their support of 24/7: A resource for working parents.

~The Psychology Foundation of Canada


We will continue to share information and updates with parents directly through email.

Updates will also be posted on the Return to School Plan website and through the Board’s social media channels:   

 You can also review our FAQs online for more information about the return to school.

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Autumn Equinox
Sep 22 all day
Feast Day of St. Gabriel
Sep 29 all day
Orange Shirt Day
Sep 30 all day
St. Gabriel Catholic School Council – Meeting #1 via Microsoft Teams
Oct 8 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Terry Fox Run (Civvies Day – Red & White)
Oct 9 all day
Thanksgiving Virtual Liturgy
Oct 9 @ 8:45 pm – 9:00 pm
Thanksgiving Day – No School
Oct 12 all day
Virtual School Bus Safety Presentations
Oct 19 – Oct 23 all day
Virtual Prayers, Opening Exercises, Announcements
Oct 23 @ 9:00 am – 10:00 am
Virtual Curriculum Night
Oct 29 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Halloween Boogie-a-thon
Oct 30 all day
Virtual Prayers, Opening Exercises, Announcements
Oct 30 @ 9:00 am – 10:00 am
Oct 31 all day
All Saints Day
Nov 1 all day
All Souls Day
Nov 2 all day

Elementary PrincipalWeekly Update – September 21 – 25