“And suddenly you just know it is time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings”.
We hope that you enjoyed the last week of the summer break and are ready to return to school whether in-person or virtually. This school year may seem or look different than previous years, but together we will make it a memorable and successful one for all students, families, and staff members. Please review the remaining informational items below carefully as it will provide you with all the pertinent and helpful information to assist with returning to school.
Ms. Carey – Vice-Principal Mr. Tilley – Principal
As of Friday, September 4th, St. Gabriel staff and Administration finalized a complete school reorganization. To account for the students that chose online learning and to adhere to the HCDSB’s hard cap of 25 students per class, many students were relocated in the Kindergarten, Primary, Junior, and Intermediate Divisions. This unfortunately has resulted in many students being separated from their friends and has forced us not to be able to honour the “3 friends” requests this year. We ask parents for patience and understanding as this process has been both complex and time-consuming.
Return to School Plan
In accordance with the HCDSB “Return to School Plan”, St. Gabriel CES has established a “Return to School” Committee consisting of Administration, staff, and a parent representative. The committee first met last Tuesday and will meet again tomorrow. Following tomorrow’s meeting, parents will be emailed a comprehensive plan for St. Gabriel including daily entry/exit and recess procedures.
Gradual Return to School
As you know, the first day of instruction for students has been delayed until Wednesday, September 9th, 2020. Families are expected to follow a gradual return to school schedule aimed at helping students learn the new health and safety routines expected as well as this year’s entry/dismissal procedures.
Please carefully review the schedule below:
|Wednesday, September 9th||Only students in Grades 1 – 8 with surnames beginning with the letters A-F attend school|
|Thursday, September 10th||Only students in Grades 1 – 8 with surnames beginning with the letters G-N attend school|
|Friday, September 11th||Only students in Grades 1 – 8 with surnames beginning with the letters O-Z attend school|
|Monday, September 14th||ALL students in Grades 1 – 8 attending in-class instruction will come to school. Remote learning begins for students learning from home.|
Halton Transportation – Delayed Start
The following information regarding the delayed start of student transportation was emailed to all families within HCDSB last week:
Halton Student Transportation Services (HSTS) has been working closely with our school board as well as the Halton District School Board to collate and coordinate the information received from parents, confirming which students will be returning back to school for in-class instruction, and how many of those students will require transportation. Due to the changes in the school schedules, as well as the enhanced health and safety protocols that will have to be in place on school buses, HSTS will require some additional time to finalize the transportation arrangements. In light of this, the start of school bus routes will be delayed this year.
School bus transportation to and from school will be available as follows:
- For elementary students in the self-contained Community Living, Essential Skills, and Structured Teaching special education classes, and secondary students in our Life Skills classes, transportation to and from school will be available beginning Friday, September 11, 2020.
- For all other students (Kindergarten to Grade 12), school bus transportation to and from school will be available beginning Monday, September 14, 2020.
Please note that our schools will be open to students, as we communicated last week. We appreciate that many families rely on school buses to get their children to and from school, and we are hopeful that you will be able to make alternative arrangements for next week.
Once transportation arrangements have been finalized, HSTS will be sending an email to parents so that they may confirm the route number, pick-time, and location through the parent portal. For more information, visit the HSTS website at haltonbus.ca.
Additional transportation information for bus students will be available at www.haltonbus.ca. To access this information, you will need your child’s Ontario Education Number (OEN). Please note that there will be no option for Courtesy Seats this year.
First Day Entrance Procedures
As mentioned above, a detailed plan including a map depicting the various cohort zones will be sent in a subsequent email by Tuesday, September 8th, 2020 to avoid any confusion. Following the guidelines from Halton Regional Public Health Department, we ask that only one parent/guardian accompany students to school to help maintain social distancing measures. We hope to limit the number of parents on the yard during the staggered beginning to school on September 9, 10, and 11. Parents/guardians will not be permitted on the yard beginning Monday, September 15, 2020.
Reminder: Students are expected to wear masks from home on the first day of school.
For more information, please visit our Return to School Website here:https://learnathome.hcdsb.org/2020/08/28/start-of-school-delay-and-gradual-return-to-school/
Parents/guardians of children attending Kindergarten (Year 1 & 2) will have received communication from the Kindergarten Team with respect to the staggered entry process and when their virtual Kindergarten Orientation Meeting is to take place.
Year 1 (JK) & Year 2 (SK) Kindergarten orientation will take place on Tuesday, September 8th and Wednesday, September 9th, 2020.
Kindergarten Staggered Entry Schedule:
All Year 2 students will begin class on Thursday, September 10th, 2020.
Year 1 staggered entry will take place on Friday, September 11th and Monday, September 14th, 2020 as per the previous email communication that was sent last week. Families of Year 1 students will be notified as to which day they are to attend at the Kindergarten Orientation Meeting.
All Kindergarten students attending through the in-school learning model will begin instruction on Tuesday, September 15th, 2020.
Enhanced cleaning protocols have been implemented. Daily cleaning protocols include disinfection of high-touch points in common areas throughout the building twice daily and increased cleaning in classrooms and washrooms. Nightly deep cleaning is also enhanced.
Physical Distancing & Wearing Masks
Throughout the Return to School planning stages, staff members have worked diligently to ensure that as many physical distancing measures as possible will be implemented into school life at St. Gabriel CES this year. These plans include training of staff in various safety protocols/procedures, removal of unnecessary furniture/items, staggered recesses, signage, the implementation of recess zones outside to name a few.
Students in Grades K – 12 are required to wear non-medical or cloth masks when inside the school. Masks must be compliant with our school dress code and should not display any inappropriate logos, sayings, or pictures. While outside for recess/instructional time, students are not required to wear masks unless they choose to do so. Methods for safely storing masks at school will be discussed with students during the first week of school. We encourage families to continue to practice putting on/removing masks with their children at home and to review the expectations for wearing them at school. Thank you for your support with this request as we believe that it is important that students receive the same messaging at home as they do at school.
COVID-19: How to safely use a non-medical mask or face …
Use of Masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is one of the measures we will have in place in our schools to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. PPE is protective clothing or equipment designed to protect the wearer’s body from injury or infection. PPE can include gloves, masks, face shields, gowns, safety shoes etc.
Wearing of Masks at School
- Medical masks will be worn by all teachers and other school staff.
- All HCDSB students (K- 12) are required to wear non-medical masks/ face coverings at school. Reasonable exceptions to this requirement will be put in place (see below Exemptions for Mask Wearing).
- All students will be provided with one cloth nonmedical mask provided by the Ministry of Education. These masks are all identical. Please ensure you label them with your child’s name.
- Students can wear their own masks from home if preferred.
Use of Non-Medical Masks or Face Coverings in Schools – Tip Sheet
Exemptions for Wearing Masks
Reasonable exceptions to mask wearing will be considered.
An exemption may be requested for a student in Grades K-12 for the following reasons:
- A pre-existing medical condition.
- A diagnosis or learning profile that would limit a student’s ability to tolerate or safely wear a mask, including whereby a mask would affect essential communication for a person who is hearing impaired.
- Other, as detailed by a healthcare practitioner.
If any of the above conditions apply to your son or daughter, please contact our School Office.
Daily Covid-19 Screening
Self-screening must be completed each day before a student attends school. If a student does not pass the self-screening, they are to remain home. Any student or staff who exhibits symptoms will be removed from their class, taken to a designated isolation room in the school, and must be picked up immediately. Please ensure that your contact information is up to date and there is a family plan for an immediate pick-up if you are contacted by school staff.
Suspected Cases of COVID-19:
Students who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms may undergo testing at an Ontario assessment centre. If the results of a test are negative and/or student is symptom free for 24 hours, they may return to school.
Confirmed COVID-19 Case:
Halton Region Public Health (HRPH) will be notified immediately and the school will respond based on HRPH recommendations. Please contact the school directly if your child develops any symptoms outside school. All absences should be reported through the Safe Arrival Program.
COVID-19 Management in Schools Guidance Document
For those of you who did not have an opportunity to watch the webinar with Dr. Meghani on Tuesday, August 25th, we have attached a reference document from the Ministry of Health to support safer schools. This document is available online here: Operational Guidance: COVID-19 Management in Schools. You may also want to view her presentation here: Preparing for a Safe and Healthy Return to School
Essential Visitor Protocol
Currently, we are limiting the number of visitors to the school. Essential visitors will only be permitted (e.g., emergency services such as a plumber or student services providers, HCDSB staff and third-party providers, who cannot otherwise provide virtual service). Any individuals, aside from employees and students should call ahead for approval to enter the school. Consideration for the use of electronic alternatives and/or other non-physical means as alternatives to on-site visits will be prioritized.
Please note that parents/guardians will not be allowed to drop-off items during the day unless it is an emergency, nor will they be able to pick up their children up at the Main Office unless arranged in advance.
Lunch drop off will be suspended until further notice. Please ensure that your child/ren have their lunch and water bottle packed in the morning prior to the start of the school day. Thank you in advance.
Changerooms, Lockers & Cubbies
All changerooms are closed at this time and access will be restricted until further notice. Considering this restriction, we ask that students make a concerted effort to bring only those personal belongings that are essential to learning (e.g., backpack, clothing, sun protection, water bottles, food). Students lockers are also not available at this time, and therefore, all bags/shoes/coats will be stored in the classroom in the student’s personal space/desk area. Use of cubbies for storage of items is only permitted in Kindergarten classes provided that physical distancing measures are practiced.
Arrival & Departure
In the morning, Kindergarten – Grade 4/5 students will report directly to their classes once they have arrived at school. Staff members will be supervising the student entry process and the students in the classrooms upon arrival. Grade 5 to 8 students will remain on the school yard in their designated zone as per past practice and will enter the school with their classroom teacher at bell time – map to follow.
If students are late for any reason, they are to enter the school through the front door and go directly to their classes. It will be up to the classroom teacher to notify the Main Office when the student arrives at the school.
Student dismissal procedures will begin approximately 10-minutes before the end of the day to help maintain social distancing as students exit the building. FDK students will be available for pick-up beginning at 2:40 pm. Walkers will be dismissed at 2:45 pm with Bus and YMCA students dismissing at 2:50 pm. Students must be wearing their masks until they have exited the building and must remain within their cohorts. Bus and YMCA students will remain in their classrooms until their buses arrive and will be walked out using the same process as cited above.
Lunch Hour & Snack Breaks
Students have been divided into two groups for the purposes of maintaining social distancing during lunch hour and outside movement breaks. In the morning, students will have a snack break inside linked to the morning announcements as well as a movement break outside as part of their recess. The lunch hour will be divided into two staggered sessions. One group of students will be eating their lunches inside while the other group is outside playing before the two groups switch. A transition period has been incorporated into the lunch hour to allow one group of students to re-enter the building before the other exits. During the afternoon, a second snack break has been scheduled for students in their classroom. In addition to the snack break, each cohort group will also be taken outside in the afternoon to participate in a recess activity/movement break.
Snacks and Lunches
- Pizza, lunchbox and milk programs will be suspended until further notice. Phasing in of lunch programs will be considered at a later date. Delivery of lunches throughout the day will not be permitted; therefore, please send your child with lunch and snacks at the beginning of the school day.
- Students are NOT allowed to leave the premise at lunch.
- Snacks and lunches will be eaten with designated cohorts and in the classroom. To reduce movement in the classroom, we will ask the following, food not consumed, wrappers, containers will go home. ALL FOOD MUST BE NUT-FREE. In keeping with our healthy eating practices, please ensure your child brings nutritious snacks and lunches that are packed in reusable containers.
- Each student is required to bring a labelled water bottle and will have access to a designated water bottle filling station.
- “No sharing” – this includes food, water bottles or personal items.
Lunches for Elementary Students
For the health and safety of our students and school community, it is strongly recommended that all K-8 students remain at school for the full duration of their lunch periods. No student shall be permitted to leave school property during the lunch hour unless in the company of a designated caregiver.
As we limit visitors to our school throughout the day, lunch drop-offs will not be permitted during the school day.
At this time, due to safety protocols, there will be no lunch or milk programs. Parents and guardians are asked to provide their child(ren) with lunch in the morning before students enter the school building.
Considerations for Lunch Prep
- Lunches should be prepared as individual meals and snacks.
- Sharing food items will not be permitted.
- Consider packing a napkin to be placed on your child’s desk
- Provide a fork for finger foods
- Do not give sticky or messy foods that will cause your children to lick their fingers
Family Consent Forms
A September package will be coming home with your child on the first day of school as per usual. These packages include important information, consent forms for your child to participate in our Physical Education program, Family Consent Forms, and Student Verification Forms. Please read, sign, and return these forms to the classroom teachers by Friday, September 18th.
Catholic School Council
Within the September package mentioned above will be Catholic School Council Nomination Forms. Nominations will be accepted until Friday, September 18th at 12:00 pm. Please note that no further nominations will be considered after this date and time.
Should a vote be necessary, the community will be invited to do so via electronic ballot the week of September 21st – 25th, 2020.
Our Catholic School Council plays an active role at St. Gabriel CES by determining school priorities and budgeting. We meet approximately one evening per month and it is important to know that we need committed members able to attend meetings. At this time, meetings will be held virtually through an online platform.
- Although masks are not required for outdoor play, students are expected to have a mask on their person at all times and will be expected to wear it as they proceed through the hallways. Students will be provided a plastic beg to keep their mask in before placing in their pockets
- Students may choose to wear masks outside
- Each classroom has been assigned a specific entry/exit door and procedures have been established to ensure that social distancing measures are always being adhered to when moving around the school
- The outside space has been divided into multiple zones that will be assigned to individual classes to maintain cohorting
- Pylons and painted lines on the asphalt will be used to delineate the different zones in the school yard
- Proactive supervision will ensure that students remain in their designated zone and only play with peers in their class cohort.
- No equipment will be used during lunch or movement breaks unless organized by the classroom teacher
- Students are not to re-enter building during recess for washroom/water breaks unless necessary
- Proper hand washing/hygiene will be enforced before and after movement breaks/recesses
- Proper cleaning and disinfecting of shared eating areas will occur between use
- Students/staff use refillable water bottles at refill stations rather than drinking directly from water fountains. Please ensure that your child/ren have a labeled water bottle
- Students are to have their own individual meal or snack. “No sharing” policies and procedures will be reinforced
- Personal items should be clearly labelled with each student’s name
- Students will be supervised while eating, moving though the hallway and during outside time
- Students are to remain sitting at their own desks and eating as per usual
School Assemblies & Large Gatherings
School assemblies and other large gatherings (e.g., presentations, concerts, dances) are cancelled until further notice. We will be looking to incorporate other virtual options where possible.
Students in Kindergarten to Grade 8 attending school will be provided with an Agenda. This year we will not be collecting any funds related to cost of the Agenda. As per recommendations set out in the Return to School Plan, students will be expected to record any events in the Agenda as guided by the teacher. Teachers will not be writing in the agendas only the students. All of our staff will be able to maintain communication between home and school by means of the D2L (Desire to Learn) online Learning Management System. Instructions and user/passwords will be provided to all families.
Student Washroom Use
Signage will be posted at each of the washrooms in the school indicating the maximum number of 2 students permitted at one time. Staff are asked to remind students not exceed the maximum number of people allowed in the washroom at one time. In addition, floor markers outside washroom have been installed to maintain distancing while waiting for washroom access. Please note that all washroom use will be monitored and logged (e.g., time, location) throughout the day. Teachers of the younger grades (FDK-3) will have to fill out the washroom log on behalf of their students please.
Water Fountains & Bottle Filling Stations
Each student will be required to bring their own drink bottle that is labeled as water fountains will not be available for use. Students will be expected to keep their water bottle with them during the day and will be reminded not shared it with anyone else. Although water fountains are not available, water bottle filling stations will remain operable. Appropriate use of bottle filling station will be monitored by staff members and enhanced cleaning protocols have been introduced.
Extracurricular Activities & Field Trips
At this time, all extracurricular activities and field trips have been suspended until further notice. Staff members are working diligently to find new and innovative ways to engage students in virtual clubs and programs whenever possible. More information to follow.
Halton Food for Thought – Breakfast Program Update
The HFFT Program will continue to operate this year in a different manner. Students will be provided with “Grab and Go” snacks to ensure their health and safety. Our usual before-school “Breakfast Program” has been put on hold until Halton Public Health deems it safe to resume.
Promoting Our Catholic Identity
We will continue to ensure that our learners experience a Catholic learning environment rooted in Gospel Values, the Focus on Faith Guiding Themes and Questions, and the Ontario Catholic School Graduate Expectations. As a faith community, we are examining new ways to maintain the connection between home, school and the parish. Our focus will continue to be on the faith formation for our staff and students and maintaining deep connections with our spiritual guides at St. Gabriel Parish.
Lunchtime Supervisors Required:
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 12:25pm daily. If you or someone you know is interested in a part-time employment opportunity, please contact the Main Office as soon as possible.
New to the Community of Leaving?
If you are planning to register at St. Gabriel CES or are moving out of our school community, please contact the Main Office so that the appropriate school organization and planning can occur.
If your child has a medical condition, the existing Student Plan of Care will be sent home for you to review and update. If there are any changes to the Student Plan of Care, please notify Mrs. Mulligan – firstname.lastname@example.org before school begins. If your child has an epi-pen/puffer/medication, please ensure that you provide one to the school on or before the first day of school.
A reminder that students are expected to be in full uniform for their first day of school. More information can be found here: ISW Uniforms
Academics and Technology
In school: The academic program will continue to be robust while reflecting the expectations that support enhanced health and safety measures. The program delivery will be adjusted to ensure health and safety protocols and wellness have increased attention. Students are encouraged to bring their own devices as all communication/agendas will be through the D2L platform.
Distance Learning: If families opt for online learning, communication will be emailed directly from an HCDSB virtual school staff. Students participating in online learning will be assigned to a virtual school.
Hand Hygiene Etiquette
Hygiene education and routines will be explicitly taught and reinforced regularly. Hand sanitizing stations will be set up in each classroom and in washrooms. All students and staff will be expected to wash hands and/or sanitize frequently. Breaks will be scheduled to allow students to wash their hands at appropriate times during the school day.
Students will remain with their designated cohort (classmates) throughout the day. The cohort group will apply inside the school and in the school yard. Bussing and the Before and After School Program will be a different cohort. Staggered recesses will ensure students can social distance as much as possible in the schoolyard. As mentioned, students have been assigned a designated area in the school yard with their cohort for outside time. There will be no mixing of class cohorts. In the classroom, students will have a designated workspace (desks or table) and will be distanced as much as possible.
Health & Wellness
The staff priority with the return to school will be on student and staff health and wellness. Our school uses a mechanical ventilation system to provide fresh air to the classrooms. This system will be controlled to maximize the amount of outdoor supply air while still maintaining thermal comfort. Additional ventilation is not required however, classroom staff may opt to open windows at their own discretion. Classes will utilize outdoor teaching opportunities as much as possible. Physical Education classes can also be taught outdoors, weather permitting.
As summer comes to an end and the back-to-school season begins, it can be challenging to get back into routines. Here are some tips to help with a smooth transition:
- Have a positive attitude (especially important this year) and reinforce the positive aspects of going back to school to help build your child’s excitement for school.
- Establish routines that provide consistency and structure at home. Consistent bedtime and wake up time, morning and nighttime routines decrease stress for children so that they know what to expect.
- Let your child do what they are capable of doing for themselves. Children are capable of handling more responsibility as they get older. Delegating tasks that they can handle helps children become more independent later.
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