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Weekly Update – Sept. 8, 2020

We choose hope over fear. We see the future not as something out of our control, but as something we can shape for the better through concerted and collective effort”

Barak Obama

St. Mark Reopens with a Safe Start Plan (Apologies in advance for the longest Weekly Update thus far)

St. Mark Staff members have been working diligently preparing the school for our physical return. We will have new protocols for lining up, for going to the washroom, for students who arrive late, and for recesses. These new protocols may seem a bit different at first, but we are confident that children will become accustomed to them quickly and that the joy of being back together will make it all worthwhile.

Class Placements

Please visit https://www.hcdsb.org/Schools/Profiles/Pages/index.aspx for 2020 – 2021 classroom placements for your child(ren). You will need your child’s Ontario Education Number (OEN) to access this information.

Gradual Return Staggered Entry for 2020 – 2021

Like all Elementary Schools, we will be easing into the new school year by bringing Grade 1-8 students back to school in smaller groups on September 9 (surnames beginning with the letters A-F), September 10 (surnames beginning with the letters G-N)  and September 11 (surnames beginning with the letters O-Z ).  All Grade 1-8 students will be in school beginning Monday, September 14th.

As per our usual practice, we will implement a staggered entry for Kindergarten students. Year 1 and 2 virtual orientation will take place on Tuesday, September 8th and Wednesday, September 9th. Year 2 students will begin on Thursday, September 10th. Year 1 staggered entry will take place on Friday, September 11th, and Monday, September 14th. All Kindergarten students will be in school beginning Tuesday, September 15th.

Essential Visitor Protocol

Part of our Return to School Safety Plan, as all HCDSB Schools, only students, HCDSB staff and essential workers like Lunch Time Supervisors or emergency services (i.e. ambulance, plumber) will be allowed to enter St. Mark School. Any individuals, aside from employees and students should call the Office for any assistance or direction on questions / concerns.

Parents/guardians will not be allowed to drop off items during the day unless it is an absolute emergency, as access to the school will not be permitted. Please ensure that your child(ren) have their lunch and reusable water bottle packed in their backpacks in the morning, prior to the start of the school day. Lunch programs (Lunchbox, Pizza, Milk) have all been suspended, at this time.

Parking Lot / Kiss’n Ride

We encourage as many students / families to walk to school as much as possible to keep the parking lot less congested. This year, we all must exercise patience like we have never done before. As we are all mandated to follow physical distancing, it is extremely important that we practice this in our parking lot and around the school sidewalks. We will have a staff member on duty at the FDK stairs and schoolyard stairs. No parents / guardians are allowed in the FDK or School Yards.

If you feel that you must walk your child to the FDK / School yard stairs, then YOU MUST PARK YOUR VEHICLE IN AN AVAILABLE SPOT! PLEASE WALK YOUR CHILD TO THE FDK / SCHOOL YARD STEPS, the staff member on duty will direct your child to proceed to the entrance FDK / School yard area, where Support Staff will help direct them to their classrooms.

ALL STUDENTS will be directed to go to their classrooms everyday, upon drop off. Our supervision will begin at 8:55 a.m. No student should be dropped off / arriving on the schoolyard before 8:55 for safety reasons!

Dismissal at End of Day

ONE CLASS AT ONE TIME WILL BE DISMISSED, starting with the closest class cohort to the exit door. FDK students drop off / pick up procedures will be shared at your Virtual Interview Time. Gr. 1 – 8 will be dismissed from their respective Recess Schoolyard Exit Doors. Parents/guardians please have a plan in place of where your child will meet you after being dismissed from schoolyard.  Parents / guardians are not allowed on FDK / School yards. We will have spray paint markings as reminders for parents / guardians to wait on and adhere to physical distancing requirements.  

Gradual Return First Day Procedures (Sept 9 – 11)

At 8:55, our schoolyard exterior doors will be opened and students will be directed to go directly to their assigned classroom. Our Support Staff will be at the exterior doors ready to help all students get to their class. Their Classroom Teacher will be waiting for their arrival in the classroom, where students will be shown their desk. This year, as part of HCDSB Safety Plan, all lockers have been closed off, therefore, no one will have access to them. It is really important that only essential items are brought to school with your child (lunch and personal tool kit) as they will be housing all their personal belongings in their backpack at their desk. Due to limited space at the students’ desks we are not asking for indoor shoes, at this time.

Attendance

We remind students that “Every Day Matters!” and daily attendance is of the utmost importance. Children arriving late (after 9:10 a.m.) for school must first report to the office for a late slip. If students find that schoolyard doors are closed and locked, students must walk to front door to gain access in the school.

Safe Arrival

Our SafeArrival system, provided through SchoolMessenger® is available 24/7, allowing you to report your child’s absence in one of three ways:

  1. using the SchoolMessenger® mobile app
  2. logging into the SchoolMessenger® web site
  3. calling into an interactive toll-free phone line at 1-844-445-4505

Click on the FAQ for more information about how to use the new SafeArrival student attendance management system.

The safety and wellbeing of all our students is our highest priority, and SafeArrival enhances 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.

Mask Wearing for FDK – Gr. 8 Students

At the Special Board Meeting held on August 19, 2020, the Board of Trustees passed a motion that all HCDSB students (K- 12) be required to wear non-medical masks/ face coverings at school. Therefore, the expectation at St. Mark Catholic School, like all schools will be that our students MUST come to school wearing a mask / face covering.

Reasonable exceptions to this requirement will be considered. An exemption may be requested via email to pascerim@hcdsb.org for a student in Grades K-8 for the following reasons:

• A pre-existing medical condition (e.g., Cystic Fibrosis)

• A diagnosis or learning profile that would limit a student’s ability to tolerate or safely wear a mask

• A mental health diagnosis

• Other, as detailed by a healthcare practitioner. A process for exemption will be followed, once approved.

Please have your child(ren) try on their masks to gradually get used to wearing them for an extended period of time.  As per the Return to School Plan, masks are required for all grades, and it should be noted that face shields are not a substitution. 

Recesses / Lunch

Our School will be divided into 2 groups for staggered recesses (2 AM + 2 PM) and lunch blocks. At lunch, one group will be outside for 30 minutes while the other group eats for 30 minutes indoors. Both groups will rotate after 30-minute periods, this includes a 5 minute transition time. Entry/Exit doors will be established to ensure students are not congregating in transition. The School Yard will be divided each day into different Zones to allow for one class cohort to play together in their designated areas. Supervision will ensure students remain in their zone and play with peers in their class cohort. Please ensure that your child(ren) bring their own food / snacks, as well as reusable water bottle daily as there will be no sharing.

While students are outdoors, they will NOT be required to wear a mask.

Change Rooms/ Lockers/Cubbies

All Change Rooms are closed until further notice.  Personal belongings brought to school should be minimized to include essential items only (e.g., backpack, clothing, water bottles, food). Students’ lockers are not accessible. All bags, shoes, coats will be located 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.

Daily Self-Assessment of COVID-19 Symptoms:

Please continue to follow the advice of our Public Health professionals by monitoring for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and keeping your child(ren) home from school if they are sick.   

Staff are to monitor self and students for signs/symptoms of COVID-19.  All Staff and students who are experiencing new or worsening symptoms consistent with COVID- 19 must go home/stay at home and seek appropriate medical attention as required, including getting tested for COVID-19.

Covid-19 Symptoms at School
Should a student at St. Mark exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, they will immediately be brought to the Resource Room #3. This will be our designated ‘Isolation Room’ where students will be cared for and supervised until a family member can pick them up. Any siblings will also have to go home. Parents will be advised to have the child tested for COVID-19. Students will not be able to return to school until they are symptom-free or until they provide a medical note saying that they do not have COVID-19 and are safe to return to school.

Students in that class will be moved to another area (i.e. outdoor / Library) so that an immediate deep clean of the room can be completed. Should there be a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 at school, we will be alerting Halton Public Health and following their direction for containment and communication with our parent community.

Our Catholic Faith

We will continue to include St. Gabriel Catholic Church as part of our faith journey, this year. We will continue to value the connections between home, school and parish and will use a variety of resources and tools (virtual, prerecorded) to ensure that those connections remain strong. We will continue to celebrate in prayer as a school community daily, participate in Christian Meditation over the PA. We will continue to provide a Catholic learning environment rooted in Gospel Values, Focus on Faith Themes and the Ontario Catholic School Graduate Expectations. Our focus will continue to be on faith formation for our staff and students, connecting our Pastors to our schools in ways that are in keeping with health and safety protocols. Finally, we will look to find new ways of focusing on service and social justice opportunities for our students. 

Assemblies/Large Gatherings

School assemblies or other large gatherings (i.e. School Masses, Liturgies) are cancelled until further notice. Virtual options will be in place.

Use of Agenda

We will continue to use agendas at St. Mark as one of our primary sources of communication. However, ONLY students will be allowed to write in them. Staff may choose to use a stamp, if necessary. Staff will be communicating electronically to parents / guardians, as needed.

Forms to be Returned

Your child’s Student Registration Verification Form and the Consent/ Permission Forms will be sent home on their scheduled gradual return first day of school. Please return form packages by Friday, September 18, 2020. We need to have up to date information in order to contact you in case of an emergency.

Student Insurance
The Halton Catholic District School Board does not provide accident insurance coverage for student injuries that occur on school premises or during school activities. Since accidents can happen, and some injuries result in medical, dental or other expenses that are not covered by provincial health care or employer group plans, as a parent, you may wish to consider purchasing student accident insurance. Student accident insurance can provide you with financial peace of mind against the possible expenses that can be incurred if a child is injured at school.

The Board makes an Accident and Life Insurance Program for students exclusively through Old Republic/Reliable Life Insurance Company available on a yearly basis. Participation is voluntary and the costs for the program are paid by the parent or guardian. The program offers a variety of plans and benefits, which can be tailored to suit your needs. The coverage provided by the policy is comprehensive and reasonably priced.

The insurance agreement is between the parent/guardian and the insurance company. If you wish to subscribe or for more information, please visit: www.insuremykids.com or call 1-800-463-KIDS (5437).

Bussing

Transportation information for eligible bus students is available at www.haltonbus.caTo 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. 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 to Kindergarten to Grade 12 students beginning Monday, September 14, 2020.

Bus Expectations
School bus transportation is a privilege and we need to work together to keep everyone safe. If bus behaviour is poor or dangerous, the bus driver will issue a warning slip and riders may be refused bus service. For more information visit: https://www.haltonbus.ca/

To ensure your safety, the following rules have been established for this school year:

  1. All students need to wear a mask and stay in their assigned seats at all times.
  2. Line up and board the bus in an orderly manner, while maintaining social distance.
  3. Remain seated; keep arms and head and belongings inside the bus.
  4. Respect the driver at all times. You are not to distract the bus driver.
  5. Do not eat or drink on the bus.
  6. Only ride on the bus to which you are assigned. You may not ride on another bus.

Bicycle Safety

If your child(ren) ride bicycles to school, please ensure that your children’s bicycles are roadworthy and that your children are familiar with the rules of the road. All students need to wear helmets when riding a bicycle. They must ride them to the edge of school property and then walk it to the bike rack for lock up.

Children Attending School Online
A portion of our students have chosen to participate in online learning. Once online classes have been organized, you will receive more information from your online classroom teachers. For more information about the online delivery model please see here: https://learnathome.hcdsb.org/return-to-school-2/learning-and-instruction-elementary/

Medical Concerns

If your child has a medical condition, the existing Student Plan of Care will be sent home for you to review and update, if necessary, during the first week of school. The Office will connect with families of children with medical conditions, who are intending to physically attend school, regarding their plans for this year. If your child has an epi-pen, please ensure that you provide two to the school, one for the student to carry and the second to be stored in the Office. If your child has had a change in their medical condition over the summer, please inform the school as soon as possible.

Peanut / Tree Nuts Allergies

Please remember that St. Mark School is an ALLERGEN REDUCED environment. For the safety of all students, please refrain from sending any peanut/tree-nut/nut products with your child, including Wow Butter. Please understand that TIM HORTONS and McDONALD’S advises that ALL their food products may have come in contact with these allergens. Please refrain from sending any Tim Horton’s / McDonald’s food products into the school. Please check labels before sending items in school lunches and for snacks.

Uniforms

A reminder that students are expected to be in full uniform for their first day of school. For more information, please visit: https://www.iswuniforms.com/

Follow us on Twitter @MarkLion14 to see all of the wonderful things happening at St. Mark School!

Thank you for your continued support and patience! Wishing you and your amazing families a wonderful long weekend.

God bless 🙂

Ms. Pasceri – Principal

Elementary PrincipalWeekly Update – Sept. 8, 2020