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Welcome to the 2021-2022 Year: Start Up Info

Dear St. Scholastica Families,

Welcome to the start of the 2021-2022 school year.  We are so excited to welcome students back into our building face to face and to re-engage our students and families with our St. Scholastica, Catholic school community. 

I do hope that you had a lovely summer and are preparing to enjoy this upcoming Labour Day Long weekend.  Today’s email is quite extensive and has much information regarding our return to school for our students.   Please read the following carefully as there are many important information items and updates to our past practices and protocols due to COVID-19.  Our goal is to keep our students and staff safe and healthy.  We are following the plans and protocols out lined to us by the Senior Staff Team at the HCDSB.  All of these practices and protocols were written after thorough consultation with our local public health unit.   

MANDATORY DAILY SELF SCREENING AND CONFIRMATION OF SCREENING (NEW!)

Parents and guardians must perform daily screening of their child(ren) for COVID-19 symptoms BEFORE arriving at school using the  https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/

NEW THIS YEAR – For the first two weeks of the school year, the Ministry of Education has asked us to complete “Confirmations of Screenings” for all students.  This means that we must put in place a mechanism for parents to confirm to their child’s teacher that the daily COVID-19 screening has been completed.  More information will be coming home to you on your child’s first day of school about this screening confirmation procedure.  If daily confirmation of screening is not completed for this first two week period, parents will be contacted to complete the screening or pick up their child(ren) from school. 

Please note that if a student or staff member does not pass the daily COVID-19 screening, they cannot come to school. They must follow the instructions provided on the daily self screening tool and report their absence to the school. 

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL FOR GRADE 1-8 STUDENTS

As outlined in an email sent out from the HCDSB on August 31st , the first day of school for our Grade 1-8 students will be staggered based on the first letter of your last name (surname).  Please note the following:

Surname Beginning with A-K: First Day of School is Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

Surname Beginning with L-Z: First Day of School is Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

ALLL GRADE 1-8 STUDENTS WILL ATTEND SCHOOL TOGETHER AS OF THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 9TH

The staggered entry days will provide our staff and students an opportunity to review health and safety protocols in this time of COVID-19 and provide everyone with a chance to get to know one another better and transition gradually into school.  Our students have been away from school since April of 2021, and so this gradual return will assist in easing anxiety and worry. 

For more information, please visit our Return to School Website:  https://www.hcdsb.org/return-to-school/

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL PROCEDURES GR. 1-8

The following details must be noted, and procedures followed on the first day of school for your Gr. 1-8 child (either September 7th or 8th).  Please remember that parents who do not model and follow our school rules and protocols create/lead to children who don’t follow the rules too – and this year, more than ever, we need EVERYONE’S COOPERATION

  • There will be no staff assisting with our kiss and ride area (Kindergarten yard side of the school) on this day as all staff will be in the yard assisting with getting students to their correct locations
  • Those parents/guardians wishing to bring their child to school on the first day are encouraged to walk to school to prevent congestion in our parking lot area
  • Only one parent will be permitted to enter onto our main school yard to assist their child in finding their teacher
  • Teachers will be holding up a sign with their name and grade level on it
  • Once your child has found their teacher, the parent who entered the main yard area with their child must leave this area immediately
  • Parents are reminded to MODEL and encourage social distancing expectations
  • Parents are asked not to congregate on the other side of the fences that fence off our main yard
  • As our school yard area will be busy on this first day of school, and maintaining social distance will be difficult, we are asking that all people (staff, students and parents/guardians) on our school yard wear face masks
  • Parents are asked to leave the school property immediately after their child has found their teacher and line up area
  • Once the teacher has all of his/her alphabetical group for that first staggered day, they will lead the class into the school and immediately conduct hand hygiene upon entering the building
  • Model positivity and optimism.  It is important that your child feels comfortable and safe.  Just as you have questions and possibly concerns, our children feel the same.  It will be important for their mental health that you feel confident in their return to school. 

We know that this will not look like the “normal” first day of school again this year.  The best thing that you can do to prepare your child for this “different” looking first day, is to tell them that once the one parent has checked them in with their new teacher that they will be immediately leaving as instructed by the Principal.  We are very nervous about the congregating of parents on this first day and really want to make sure that we can keep all students, staff AND parents healthy and safe. 

After this first staggered entry day, parents are NOT permitted on the main school yard.  When students arrive prior to our 9:07 bell, they will immediately be heading to their line up areas and lining up socially distanced with the peers from their class/cohort.  There will be no free walking or play in the main yard prior to school.  These procedures will be reviewed with students on their first school day.  We very much need the cooperation of parents prior to school starting every morning to remember that parents/family members are NOT to congregate and watch at the fences before the bell rings in the morning.  Once again – we know that this is different again this year, but we are implementing this to keep everyone SAFE.

OTHER PICK UP AND DROP OFF NOTES (BEYOND THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL)

As we prepare to welcome students back to school next week, we wanted to review the drop-off and pick-up protocols that will be in place to help minimize contacts and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our school community.  These protocols will be in place until further notice. 

  • 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).
  • We have established designated entry and exit doors for your child’s class (cohort).
  • Your child’s Kindergarten teacher or your child’s teacher will inform you and/or your child(ren) about specific pick up and drop off locations.
  • Students will line up to enter our school, and we will be implementing a staggered entry into school to limit the number of students in our hallways at one time.  This will mean that entries and exits by the children will take longer.
  • Kindergarten students will enter the school immediately upon arrival in the morning.
  • 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.
  • Parents and caregivers are encouraged to use the ‘Kiss and Ride’ as students become more comfortable and familiar with the new routine – more information coming on our Kiss and Ride area and its protocols during the first week of school.

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.

SUPERVISION BEFORE THE SCHOOL DAY BEGINS

A reminder that our warning bell rings daily at 9:07am with a final bell at 9:10am.  There will NOT be teacher supervisors on the yard prior to 8:55am and so no student should be on property prior to this time.  Once again, as mentioned above, when students arrive on property after 8:55am daily they must immediately go to their line up area and line up socially distanced from those within their class/cohort.  A Staff member will be assigned “bus duty” and it will be his/her responsibility to get the students safely off of the busses that arrive at the school in the morning and to their proper Grade 1-8 line up area or Kindergarten classroom. 

KINDERGARTEN ENTRY (Staggered)

Our Kindergarten teaching teams will be conducting virtual parent orientation meetings with NEW JK/Year 1 and NEW SK/Year 2 families on Tuesday, September 7th.  If you are a NEW family to St. Scholastica with a Kindergarten child then you should have received an email from your child’s Kindergarten teaching team that included an invite to this virtual meeting. 

ALL SK/YEAR 2 STUDENTS ALONG WITH HALF OF THE JK/YEAR 1 STUDENTS WILL HAVE THEIR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL ON THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 9TH

ALL SK/YEAR 2 STUDENTS ALONG WITH THE OTHER HALF OF THE JK/YEAR 1 STUDENTS WILL HAVE THEIR SECOND (IF IN SK) OR FIRST (IF IN JK) DAY OF SCHOOL ON FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 10TH

ALL KINDERGARTEN STUDENTS WILL BE IN CLASS TOGETHER ON MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 13th

If your child is in JK/Year 1 and you do not know what staggered day your child will attend, please see the email that came from your child’s Kindergarten teacher this week

On the first day of school for all SK/Year 2 students, these students should go to the gate that they entered through last year.  If you are a new SK/Year 2 family, please go to the gate that your child’s teaching team indicated for your child to enter through when you met with them for your virtual interview on September 7th.  

NO PARENTS WILL BE PERMITTED PAST THE GATE THAT LEADS INTO THE KINDERGARTEN YARD.  AN EDUCATOR WILL CALL YOUR CHILD FORWARD AND ALL CHILDREN WILL IMMEDIATELY ENTER THE SCHOOL BUILDING. 

On the first day of school for all JK/Year 1 students, these students should go to the gate that your child’s teaching team indicated for your child to enter through.  This information will be shared with you at your virtual orientation meeting. 

CLASS LISTS

All schools are currently finalizing elementary class placements and making adjustments based on new registrations coming in this week. Final placements will be available on Friday, September 3rd after 3:00 p.m.   Parents and guardians will be able to access the class placement for each child, using your child’s Office 365 email and password. You will not require your child’s OEN number.  See step-by-step instructions.

I strongly encourage all parents to remember (and to share with your children) that these lists are TENTATIVE.  I foresee likely one to two other reorganizations occurring before the end of September.  As stated in the email that you received from the HCDSB on August 31st , due to the timing and complexity of the process this year, schools will not be able to accommodate requests for changes to class lists.

MANDATORY MASKS

All staff will be wearing proper medical PPE masks as provided to them by the HCDSB, at all times while working with students.  All students from Grade K-8 are required to come to school with a cloth face mask.  These masks will be worn at all times within the classroom and shared indoor areas.   If your child requires a cloth face mask or if theirs breaks or gets lost throughout the school day, one will be provided to them.  You may wish to send your child to school with an extra one (or more) in a plastic bag which could be kept inside of their school bag.  It is strongly suggested that you also send your child with another plastic zipper top bag or paper bag to store their mask in when not being worn (outside, outdoor mask breaks etc.).

Use of Non-Medical Masks or Face Coverings in Schools – Tip Sheet

SCHOOL ITEMS AND LOCKERS

Lockers will be available for students this year to store their outdoor clothing items.  Students are encouraged to bring MINIMAL items with them to school daily to reduce the clutter in the classrooms.  Less clutter means more space to distance our students apart from one another.  Knapsacks will be kept on the backs of student chairs. 

Even though we are encouraging minimal items at school, there may be some items that you may want to ensure that your child has (as items cannot be shared from one child to the next).  Your classroom teacher can provide you with some suggestions during the first week of school. 

LUNCH TIME ROUTINES AND EXPECTATIONS

Our Grade 1-8 lunch hour will still be from 12:25-1:25 daily.  The students will receive roughly half of this time outside playing in their cohorted yard zones and the other half of this time will be spent inside of their classrooms eating their lunch with students only from their class/cohort.  While half of our school will be inside eating, the other half will be outside playing.  In this way, we are reducing the number of students on the yard during our lunch recess outdoor break time. 

For the health and safety of our students and our school community, it is strongly recommended that all elementary students remain at school for the full duration of their lunch periods.  As we will be limiting parent 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.  

Considerations for Lunch Prep: 

  • Lunches should be prepared as individual meals and snacks.  
  • Sharing food items will not be permitted. 
  • Reusable water bottles are encouraged. 
  • St. Scholastica school is a reduced allergen environment.  Please do not send products that contain or may contain any form of nut (peanuts, tree nuts etc.).

NOTE ABOUT NUTS: One of the strategies we use to help keep our students safe is to remind parents, guardians and caregivers to kindly ensure that you send your child to school with peanut-free/nut-free food products.  This includes look-a-like products to peanut butter.  These products claim to be so close in smell, taste and texture to peanut butter, that it is nearly impossible for students and staff to distinguish between a look-a-like product and authentic peanut butter.  We appreciate your cooperation in keeping the look-a-like products at home and preventing a mix-up of the two products, where the results could be life-threatening. For this same reason, we cannot accept treats for birthdays or celebrations and monitor this very closely.  PLEASE DO NOT SEND IN PRODUCTS THAT CONTAIN OR MAY CONTAIN PEANUTS OR OTHER TREE NUTS.

WATER BOTTLES

Students and staff will be able to bring reusable water bottles and refill them at designated refill stations in our school. For the health and safety of our students and school community, the use of water fountains for drinking will not be permitted.  

Water Fountains and 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.  
  • All (traditional) water fountains will made inoperable.  
  • Bottle filling stations will be available and cleaned/disinfected regularly throughout the school day.    

RECESS BREAKS FOR GRADE 1-8 STUDENTS

With our increased student population and with the need to cohort students into yard zones, we have moved to a split AM and split PM recess time each day.  What this means, is that half of our Grade 1-8 population will be given a recess at one time throughout the morning and the other half will get an AM recess break at a different time.  The same will be the case for our afternoon recess breaks.  Each class will be provided with one AM and one PM recess time each day.  Students will also be participating in outdoor mask breaks and regular daily physical activity (DPA) as directed by their teacher.   No recess equipment will be allowed on the playground at this time.  Students are reminded not to bring these items from home as they are not permitted at this time. 

SCHOOL HOURS

Our warning bell will ring daily at 9:07am with a 9:10am official start time.  Our dismissal bell will ring at 3:40pm.  The lunch hour for our Grade 1-8 students is from 12:25pm-1:25pm daily.  If your child is late (doors at the back of the school are closed without a staff member being present to provide access) then he/she must go to the main office door, buzz the buzzer and wait to be told if they can proceed in.  With us doing everything that we can to reduce traffic flow in the main atrium and office area of the school, we ask that your child be on time for school each and every day.   

MANDATORY SCHOOL UNIFORMS

St. Scholastica is a full uniform school.  All students must be in full uniform as purchased from our uniform provider RJ McCarthy Uniforms.  Please visit their website for information or for booking your shopping appointment: https://www.mccarthyuniforms.ca/.  Please note that there was a change to the HCDSB uniform policy last year that makes it possible for students to wear their navy blue “bottoms” (pants, shorts, skirts etc.) from any clothing store.  There is to be no denim or no logos, slogans or brand names in large print format on the navy blue bottoms if choosing to exercise this option. 

If your family is in need of financial assistance for the purchase of uniforms, please contact me at Sweeney-hurde@hcdsb.org or our Vice Principal, Darren Cochrane at cochraned@hcdsb.org

PARENTS AND VISITORS IN THE SCHOOL

This school year, in an effort 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 scheduled will be approved.  Where possible, meetings or visits will be conducted virtually.  Visitors who are granted approval will be required to complete an online confirmation of self screening form prior to entering 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.   Please understand that you may be refused entry into the school.  We encourage you to call the school AND to leave a voicemail if no one answers the phone right away.  The voicemail is checked every couple of minutes.  This is the best way to get information to our office staff and/or your child’s teacher.  Teachers will be providing you with their email addresses early in the school year and this too is an effective form of communication between parents and staff. 

WHAT IF MY CHILD IS UNWELL AT SCHOOL THIS YEAR?

More than ever, it is imperative that children who are not feeling well are kept at home.  Parents must perform the daily screening check on their child(ren) before sending them to school each and every day (this was mentioned earlier in this information email).  All this being said, we do know that sometimes students start to feel ill throughout the school day.  If this were to happen, 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.  Parents will be contacted for IMMEDIATE pick up when this happens.  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.  You could call our main office number or email our Head Secretary, Mrs. Suzanne Hyland, at hylands@hcdsb.org

TRANSPORTATION

All students who qualify for bussing will be expected to wear a mask while on a bus to and/or from school each day.  Students will have assigned seats on busses as well.  For route and stop information, visit the HSTS website at: https://www.haltonbus.ca/  .  A reminder that there are no courtesy seats being offered this year to families who do not live within the approved bussing zones. 

For specific information about COVID-19 Safety Protocols that are in place for students while travelling on the bus, please visit www.haltonbus.ca/covid-19-return-to-school-transportation/

MEDICAL/ALLERGIES/ATHSMA/DIABETES

Parents of students with medical conditions are reminded to be sure to return any completed forms to the office on their child’s first day, along with any medication such as EpiPens, inhalers etc.  Our secretary, Mrs. Hyland, emailed these families last week regarding this. If a new copy of a forms package is needed, please contact the office.  NO CHILD CAN TAKE MEDICATION AT SCHOOL UNLESS THE PROPER RELEASE FORMS HAVE BEEN COMPLETED, RECEIVED AND DOCUMENTED. 

SCHOOL CASH ONLINE

For those families new to our school, it is important that you register for our online money collection system called School Cash Online.  We will be starting some hot lunch programs this year and there may be a return to school trips as well.  If you have not registered for SCO, please follow the steps below:

Step 1: Please visit: https://hcdsb.schoolcashonline.com

Step 2: Register by selecting the “Get Started Today” and following the steps.

Step 3: After you receive the confirmation email, please select the “Click Here” option, sign in and add each of your children to your household account.

SCHOOL MESSENGER APP

Downloading and using the School Messenger App is the FASTEST and EASIEST way to report your child’s absence to the school.  It even saves you having to call their absence into our school office.  If you have not downloaded this app already, we ask that all parents please do this before the start of the school year.  The instructions are listed below:

OPTION #1 – SCHOOL MESSENGER APP (FREE)

– Download the app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store (or from the links at https://go.schoolmessenger.com)

– Tap Sign Up to create account

–  Select Attendance from the menu, and then select Report an Absence

OPTION #2 – WEB AND MOBILE WEB: GO.SCHOOLMESSENGER.COM

– Go to the website

– Click Sign Up to create account

– Select Attendance from the menu, then select Report an Absence

If you wish to call in your child’s absence we ask that you please use our toll free attendance phone number associated with the School Messenger App.  The Instructions for this are below:

1. Call the toll-free, interactive telephone line at 1-844-445-4505.

2. Follow the instructions to report an absence.

ADVANCE NOTICE: REVIEW OF PARKING LOT AND KISS AND RIDE ROUTINES ARE COMING!

Within the first week of school you will be receiving another email from the school that will be detailing some reminders or slight changes to the way that our parking lot areas operate at both before school drop off and after school pick up times.  Please keep your eyes open for this email.  With the growth in our school community and our added COVID-19 reopening protocols, we will need to put further measures in place to not only improve the flow of our parking lot areas but also to maintain student, staff and parent health and safety. 

IN SUMMARY

We know that this email was lengthy and we appreciate you taking the time to review it carefully.  Although there is much nervous energy and excitement about the start of the school year, especially this school year, we want to share with you our hope and optimism for what could be a fantastic year.  Our staff are committed to providing a safe and healthy school environment which focusses on well-being, community, faith development and, of course, education.  We look forward to welcoming our students back to school next week.  We also look to your continued support and cooperation as we work through our COVID protocols together.  It will be a journey for all of us and we couldn’t be happier to have you travelling alongside us.

Yours in Partnership,

Mrs. E. Sweeney-Hurd (Principal)   sweeney-hurde@hcdsb.org

Mr. D. Cochrane (Vice-Principal) cochraned@hcdsb.org

Cochrane, DarrenWelcome to the 2021-2022 Year: Start Up Info