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Weekly Update – Sept 8-11, 2020

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” ~ Nelson Mendela

St. Joseph Tips

As students and staff are returning to schools, let us praise them for showing courage and let them know that together we can do it. Try to take things one day at a time and enjoy the current day rather than worry about what the future holds. The Return to school procedures at St. Joseph is listed below for the 2020 – 2021 year. We are thrilled to be back together again.

Gradual Return to School

To help ease the transition for our students, and ensure a safe and healthy return for all, the first day of school will be delayed, and we will be implementing a gradual (staggered) return to class for our elementary students, beginning Wednesday, September 9th.

First Day Procedures

All students in Gr 1-4 will line up in the designated areas outside in the yard. All Gr 5-8 students will enter the school at the back entrance and proceed directly to their classrooms. All Kindergarten students will enter the school at the Kindergarten gate and proceed to their classrooms.

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.


Grades K-8 students are required to wear non-medical or cloth masks in school, including hallways and during classes.

  • Outdoor times will be used as opportunities for students to take a break from wearing masks if they are within their cohorts.
  • Students are to use a zip-lock or paper bag, labelled with their name, to store their mask while outside.
  • Once students return from outside, they practice hand hygiene and resume wearing their masks
  • Mask design: Keep it simple, please.
  • Masks must be compliant with our school dress code and not display any inappropriate logos, sayings, or pictures.
  • Practice safely putting on and taking off the mask

COVID-19: How to safely use a non-medical mask or face …

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.

Entering and Exiting the School

In accordance with Halton Region Public Health recommendations, students and staff will practice physical distancing as much as possible. Signage will be posted throughout the school to ensure we are maximizing physical distancing and best hygiene practices are maintained. Travel routes between classrooms and common areas will be clearly marked, with travel protocols practiced and reinforced. Students will be provided with an individualized workspace and will remain with their homeroom teacher throughout the day with access to designated entrance and exit doors, washrooms, and outdoor spaces. Students will be expected to travel through the school with their cohort at all times

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.

Physical Distancing

Students will remain with their designated cohort (classmates) throughout the day. The cohort group will apply inside the school and in the schoolyard. 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. Students will be assigned a designated area on the pavement with their cohort for recess 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 and 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.

Student Washrooms

  • Students will be reminded to wash/disinfect hands before and after washroom visits
  • If students need to go to the washroom throughout the day, they will go one at a time
  • Physical distancing markers will be placed outside washrooms for students who are waiting to enter

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.

School Visitors

As a school community, we pride ourselves on creating a welcoming environment. Due to COVID-19, access to the school will be limited to HCDSB employees and service providers only. Access to the school by any other member of the community must be pre-approved by the school administration in accordance with the HCDSB Essential Visitor Protocol.

Enhanced Cleaning

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.

Kiss ‘n’ Ride Etiquette

Our Kiss ‘n’ Ride lanes are for quick drop-offs of students and you may not “park” your car in these lanes. If you need to get out of your car to escort your child to the gate or playground, please park in any of the available spaces and use the sidewalks for safety.

  • Only one parent or guardian will be permitted on school property to drop off and pick up children.
  • Parents and guardians will remain outside and will not be permitted to enter the school (unless there is an extenuating need, and prior approval has been obtained as per the Visitor Protocol.
  • Parents and caregivers are asked to leave the school property as soon as they drop off their child(ren). No gathering or congregating will be allowed on school property.

Please let all relatives know this information that will be doing drop-offs so the message is consistent. We appreciate your support in following the expectations while using our parking lots.

Bus Transportation

Halton Transportation Services is proposing to maintain the same number of riders on buses and rely on more stringent health and safety protocols on school buses. These include:

  • Mandating the use of masks for all students riding on the bus
  • Use cohorts to group students with peers they will be inconsistent contact with
  • Create seating charts that take into consideration siblings and classroom cohorts
  • Suspend courtesy seats for the 2020-2021 school year
  • All students who travel on the school bus must have a successful self-screening before boarding the bus.
  • Transportation will begin on Monday, September 14, 2020.

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

For additional information: see HCDSB Return to School Plan

Elementary PrincipalWeekly Update – Sept 8-11, 2020