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Return to School Update – Sept. 7

And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

Meister Eckhart

We’re excited to welcome all new and returning students back to St. Mark Catholic School for the 2021-2022 school year! Please take time to review the “HCDSB Return to School Plan” at: www.hcdsb.org/return-to-school.  

 
Staggered Entry for Students in Kindergarten – Grade 8   

As communicated by HCDSB, we will be staggering student entry into our school in smaller groups on September 7 and 8.  The gradual return to school will help to ensure a smooth transition for all by allowing us to review new and existing health and safety routines at school, and practice our entry and dismissal procedures in smaller groups.  
 
The following schedule will apply:   

Tuesday, September 7th         Only students in Grades 1 – 8 with surnames beginning with the letters A-K will come to school.  
Wednesday, September 8th           Only students in Grades 1 – 8 with surnames beginning with the letters L-Z will come to school. 
Thursday, September 9th                 ALL students in Grades 1 – 8 attending in-person instruction will come to school.  

 
Kindergarten Students 
The following dates apply for students entering Kindergarten: 

Year 1 Kindergarten  

  • Orientation interviews for Year 1 Kindergarten students will take place on Tuesday, September 7 and Wednesday, September 8, 2021.  
  • Staggered entry for Year 1 Kindergarten students will take place on Thursday, September 9 and Friday, September 10, 2021.  
  • All Year 1 Kindergarten students will beginMonday, September 13, 2021.  

 

Year 2 Kindergarten   

  • Orientation interviews for Year 2 Kindergarten students who are new to the school will take place on Tuesday, September 7 and Wednesday, September 8, 2021.  
  • All Year 2 Kindergarten students will begin school onThursday, September 9, 2021.  

 
Students with Special Education Needs  
If your child has special education needs and would benefit from daily attendance, and/or additional time to support their transition back to school, please contact our school office.  
 
Daily Confirmation of Student Screening  
The Ministry of Education has directed all schools to implement daily confirmation of COVID-19 self-screening for all students attending school in-person. This will be in place for the first two weeks of the school year, unless otherwise directed by the Ministry of Education.  We ask all families to adhere to the following process: 
 
Daily Confirmation of COVID-19 Self-Screening is REQUIRED

Parents and guardians, PLEASE complete the COVID-19 School Screening Toolfor each child every day before leaving home for school.
Confirmation of the daily screening must be provided to the classroom teacher in one of the following formats: 

  • Our PARENTS of Intermediate Students will be provided an Electronic Form Link that must be completed daily (will be sent by Intermediate Teachers).
  • Our Primary and Junior Classes will be provided a copy of “Confirmation of Daily COVID-19 Student Screening Log” , which students will bring back and forth to school each day. FDK will include in their Communication Bag and Gr. 1 – 6 Classroom Teachers will staple in agenda.

All students will be required to provide confirmation that they have taken and passed the assessment upon arrival at school. Verification will be conducted by the homeroom teacher during morning attendance.

If you are unable to print / access online, we will accept a written note that states and includes parent signature:

  1. My child has completed the Covid-19 School Screening Tool Today.
  2. Today’s COVID-19 School Screening Result indicates that my child CAN GO TO SCHOOL.

Staff will continue 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. Mandatory self-screening and verification will begin on Tuesday, September 7, 2021. If your child attends class and the teacher has not received the confirmation, you will be contacted. We thank you for your support in making this process both smooth and successful for all our students.

What happens if your child feels unwell at school? 

It is important for your son or daughter to let their teacher know if they are feeling unwell at school.  Students who show signs/symptoms of COVID-19 during the school day will be taken to our school’s designated ‘Isolation Room’ where they will be cared for and supervised until the parent or guardian can pick them up.  

It is very important that we have current contact information for all of our families so that we can get in touch with you quickly. Please contact our school office if there have been any recent changes to your contact information.  

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 been delayed, at this time. We hope to start late October. More information to come.

Lunches for Elementary Students 

For the health and safety of our students and school community, it is strongly recommended that all elementary students remain at school for the full duration of their lunch periods.  As we limit visitors to our school throughout the day, lunch drop offs will not be permitted during the school day.  

Parents and guardians are asked to provide their child(ren) with lunch in the morning before students enter the school building.  

Reusable Water Bottles: 

Each student is required to bring their own drinking bottle to school that is labeled, kept with them during the day, and not shared with other students.  Students and Staff will be able to refill them at designated refill stations in our school. 
Thank you for your understanding as we limit the number of visits and contacts to our school community to protect the health and safety of our students and staff.   

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 will continue to exercise patience, as we are all mandated to follow physical distancing and wear masks, 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 both FDK gates /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!

ENTRY Procedures (Sept 7 / 8)

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. 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. A locker will be assigned to each of our students for outdoor wear only. No locks are allowed, so as to keep locker use to a minimum.

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.

Parents and caregivers are asked to leave the school property as soon as you drop off  / pick up your child(ren). No gathering or congregating will be allowed on school property. 

Thank you for your understanding and assistance as we work together to protect our students, families and staff so that we can ensure a safe and healthy return to school for all.

Use of Agenda

We will continue to use agendas at St. Mark as one of our primary sources of communication for our Grade 1 – 6 Classes. Students will be receiving their agenda this week. Our Intermediate students will be using Google Docs as their primary source of accessing important dates and staying organized. Please look out for Agenda Purchase on School Cash Online.

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. 

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.

Reporting Your Child’s Absences  
Parents and guardians should continue to use the Safe Arrival system to report their child(ren)’s absences, whether they have an illness, a medical appointment, or other important event.  

Attendance

We remind students that “Every Day Matters!” and daily attendance is of the utmost importance. Children arriving late for school must first report to the office for a late slip. 
 
IMPORTANT UPDATE!  
This year, we have updated our Student Information System to PowerSchool, which offers an improved database system for our school board. This updated system has changed the student numbers that were previously assigned to each student. 
 
As a result, all parents and guardians who will be reporting their child’s absences through the SchoolMessenger website (go.schoolmessenger.ca) or mobile app this year are required to sign up with a new account to sync the student profiles for the 2021-2022 school year.  
 
INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO SET UP A NEW ACCOUNT 
It is recommended to use a desktop/laptop computer to create a new account on SchoolMessenger. Follow the instructions below to create a new account: 

  1. Using an internet browser, visit http://go.schoolmessenger.ca and click SIGN UP on the menu in the upper right-hand corner. 
  2. Enter your email address (the same email address that you provided to your child(ren)’s school). 
  3. Enter a password. Your password must contain the following: 

·         One or more lowercase letters 

·         One or more uppercase letters 

·         One or more numbers 

·         Must be at least 6 characters 

  • Make sure your location is set to Canada 
  • Click Sign Up 


After you sign up, an email will be sent to the email address you provided. Click on the link in the email in order to activate your account. Your new SchoolMessenger account will then be created and will be ready for use.  
 
NOTE: Parents and guardians may continue to use the phone number (1-844-445-4505) to report their child(ren)’s absences. You are not required to set up a new account in order to report absences using the toll-free number.  
 
For more information, please visit our website: Report Your Child’s Absence 
 
We apologize for any inconvenience or confusion this may create. 

Family Information Consent 

At the beginning of each school year, parents and guardians are asked to complete a hardcopy information/consent form for each child enrolled in our school. 

Beginning this year, we will be collecting this information electronically, and are asking parents/guardians to complete the form online. 

COMPLETE THE FAMILY INFORMATION/CONSENT FORM ONLINE  

Parents are asked to complete the form, which may be accessed HERE.  

  • The form will take about 10 minutes to complete. 
  • If you have more than one child enrolled in an HCDSB school, please complete a separate form for each child. 
  • Only one parent/guardian is required to complete a form for each child. 
  • You will need your child’s Ontario Education Number (OEN) to submit this form. The OEN can be found on a recent report card. 
  • The form can be completed using a computer, smart phone, or tablet. 

2021 – 2022 St. Mark Catholic School Council

Catholic School Council Nomination Forms will be emailed to all families later this week and will be due Friday September 24th, via email to Ms. Pasceri. Our first VIRTUAL St. Mark Catholic School Council Meeting will be on Tuesday, October 5th, starting at 6:30 p.m. More information to follow.

FASD Awareness Day

FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) Awareness Day is held every year on September 9.  This day is set aside to increase knowledge and understanding about FASD.  We will be including FASD information and a special prayer in our Morning Announcements to help raise awareness.

Changes to Learning Environment – February 22, 2022 

An opportunity to change the learning environment for elementary students will be offered in January 2022. All parents and guardians with children enrolled in an HCDSB elementary school will receive an invitation to complete the Change of Learning Environment Form.  Requested changes will take effect as of Tuesday, February 22, 2022. 

Thank you for your continued support and patience! We all look forward to having our students back in our school building starting this week!

God bless 🙂

Ms. Pasceri – Principal

Sep
7
Tue
Staggered Entry – Only Students in Gr. 1– 8 with Surnames beginning with A-K will come to school. 
Sep 7 all day
Student / Parent Interviews for NEW JK and SK
Sep 7 all day
Sep
8
Wed
Staggered Entry – Only Students in Gr. 1– 8 with Surnames beginning with L-Z will come to school. 
Sep 8 all day
Student / Parent Interviews for NEW JK and SK
Sep 8 all day
Sep
9
Thu
FASD Awareness Day
Sep 9 all day
FULL Entry for Grade 1 – 8 Students
Sep 9 all day
Full Entry for SK Students
Sep 9 all day
Staggered Entry for Half JK Students
Sep 9 all day
Sep
10
Fri
Staggered Entry for Half JK Students
Sep 10 all day
Sep
13
Mon
FULL Entry for JK Students
Sep 13 all day
Pasceri, MariaReturn to School Update – Sept. 7