Table of Contents (Please note that items are added as needed and not in alphabetical order — the site is under active construction and will change to accommodate new information)

  1. Important online links
  2. Mask policy
  3. Physical distancing on school property (and buses)
  4. Who comes on school property and into the school?
  5. When can students come on school property?
  6. Late arrivals
  7. Early pick-ups
  8. End-of-day dismissal
  9. Parking
  10. Buses
  11. Student personal supplies
  12. Monitoring student and staff health for signs of COVID-19
  13. Lunches
  14. Communicating with staff
  15. Visitors and volunteers
  16. Dressing for the weather
  17. Beginning of school year priorities
  18. When do students or staff have to go/stay home?
  19. Clarification on masks and hand sanitizer

1.Important Online Links:

Return-to-school details:  https://www.wrdsb.ca/returntoschool/return-to-school/

Student well-being efforts:  https://www.wrdsb.ca/returntoschool/student-well-being/ 

Frequently asked questions:  https://www.wrdsb.ca/returntoschool/faqs/

2.Mask Policy:

All staff, students, and visitors coming on to school property are expected to wear a personal mask that covers their mouth and nose.  This must be worn at all times from entering school buses or moving onto and being on school property.  Students will be coached on ways how they can, within their own class (also known for this year as a “cohort”), safely remove masks as a cohort for eating and when outside, but only in carefully-supervised situations when their class is out at a time other than nutrition break.  It will be helpful to the transition to school if families could practice wearing masks for extended periods of time, prior to coming to school.

3.Physical Distancing

Public Health has issued a requirement of maintaining a distance of 2 m wherever possible.  At John Mahood, we will be educating students that maintaining 2m of distance between each other, or as close to that as is physically possible, is a critical way to help our own and each others’ safety.  We will be practising and reinforcing what 2m looks and feels like using a variety of ways to help it make sense to students.  Please have some fun with this to help make it meaningful for your students.  One idea that may work is to link to a familiar item like a hockey stick (one cut for somebody around 5 feet tall or taller).  That length plus an outstretched arm equals approximately 2m.   This distancing is required from the moment students enter school property.  There will be times when maintaining this distance will not be possible and in those situations, students will be instructed to maintain maximum distancing.  Because there will be times when maintaining 2m of distance is challenging to maintain, masks provide an extra layer of precaution and protection, whether inside or outside.  This is why will have a policy of masks at all times for all individuals on school property.

4.Who comes on school property and into the school?

Students and staff should be the only ones on school property wherever possible.  If a student requires adult accompaniment (required for Kindergarten students), we ask only one person per family comes on property.  Each family bubble must maintain a distance of 2m from the other family bubbles on property.  It would be ideal if students were left at the edge of our property and allowed to continue to their cohort meeting points.  The same is true for meeting up at the end of the day.

Only students, staff and authorized visitors may enter the school.  For more details on dropping off late or picking up early, please see those sections.

5.When can students come on school property?

Students should come onto school property no earlier than 8:35 a.m., when staff supervision begins.  When students arrive at school, they will not me able to intermingle and play and will be required to go to their line-up area to maintain social distancing, where they will remain physically distanced until the bell rings.  families with students arriving before 8:35 a.m. will be contacted directly to find determine safe solutions.  Please keep in mind that students will remain outside until the bell rings, so they will need to dress for the weather.  More on this in the section on dressing for the weather.

6.Late arrivals

If students arrive late, there will be physical spacing indicators on the walkway linking the front entrance to the sidewalk.  Students will wait, physically distanced as indicated with the adult accompanying them, as a family unit if more than one, or alone, until they can be granted access into the school, one family student group or individual at a time.  Caregivers may not enter the building with late students.  This process may take more time than we have been accustomed to as we process late arrivals one at a time and help make sure students who arrive late move to classes once the hallways are clear of class cohorts.

7.Early pick-up of students

If you wish to pick up a student early from school, please notify the teacher through an e-mail more than a day ahead of time to let the teacher know, if possible.  On the day you are to pick up early, please let the school know prior to your arrival at school, if possible.  When you arrive at the school, if there are any other caregivers picking students up, please wait respecting the physical distance indicators on the walkway leading up to the front door of the school.  Caregivers will not enter the school unless there is an emergency, so please wait until the student(s) exit the building.

8.End-of-day dismissal

As is the case with morning arrival, we ask that caregivers meet students off school property at pre-designated locations to allow maximizing of physical distancing, wherever possible.  If caregivers need to come onto school grounds, please have only one person per family come on the property to make physical distancing easier to accomplish.  If caregivers need to come onto school property to pick up a student, face masks are required at all times as is social distancing.  Classroom cohorts will be released in separate groups to maintain 2m physical distancing at dismissal.  If you are coming onto property, please identify a spot at least 25m from entrances, well-distanced from other family bubbles, so students exiting the building are able to maintain 2m distances between each other.  The tarmac on the side of the school between the tennis courts and school will provide the best opportunity for physical distancing.

9.Parking

We encourage coming to school on foot or by other non-motorized modes of transport.  In the case where a vehicle is deemed necessary, families may use the church parking lot across from the school.  The church has been conducting physically-distanced outdoor services during nice weather and we should maintain the physical distance protocols to respect their property.  Please have students move maintaining physical distancing to the crossing guard at the corner of Arthur and First Streets.  Wherever possible, we encourage parents to park a little farther from the school to make physical distancing easier to accomplish.  Please help us keep everyone safe.

10.Buses

Each bus will have a seating plan keeping family groups together as much as possible to maximize physical distancing capacity.  Students are expected to don a mask prior to their entry onto the bus at the beginning of the day and to not remove the mask until they are off the bus and able to maintain physical distancing of at least 2m.

11.Student personal supplies

To get ready for school, the school board has been working to procure separate learning tools for each and every student at the elementary level.  It is our school desire to have the basics of learning for each student.  Many families like to celebrate the excitement of a new school year by having extra items.  Personal items should be kept to a minimum of space as all items need to be kept in students’ personal desks and learning spaces.  You may want to consider but are not required to purchase the following each student in grades 1-6 to use personally:  age-appropriate scissors, pencil crayons, crayons, 2-3 pencils, an eraser, personal-sized tissues (something small that can be easily stored in a desk), a ruler, a personal calculator for grades 3-6, headphones for grade 1-6 students.

12.Monitoring student and staff health for signs of COVID-19

WRDSB has provided a daily screening checklist through a clickable button on their homepage.  The link can be found here

13.Lunches

All students should bring food items that are healthy and nut (and nut facsmiles like Wow butter) free.  All garbage, recycling and food waste will be going back home in the lunch bags, so please plan and practice how to handle the process of opening and cleaning up (what goes where) as staff on duty will be able to support with verbal instruction but are not to be touching student items, especially during these pandemic times.

14.Communicating with staff

Although we will be providing a planner to every student in grades 1-6 for the value of reinforcing planning at home, the process of bringing a planner between home and school provides one more risk via another touch point and a means for potential spread of virus.  Because of this, we may not have planners going between home and school, so staff and families will need to communicate via e-mail.  Staff will be collecting family e-mails to allow seamless communication.  Keep in mind that staff are being asked to check e-mails once daily.  Please know that once an e-mail is sent, it may take as long as 36 hours to be read (e.g., e-mail sent the morning of one day, teacher had already checked e-mail and missed that message, messages not checked again until the end of the following day).  As such, it will be critical to plan communication ahead of time wherever possible.  If there is a message that is urgent as it relates to student safety and well-being, please call the office and we’ll be happy to help.  If you need a staff person’s e-mail, those can be found here.

15.Visitors and volunteers

At this time, visitors are to be admitted only on a very limited basis and if remaining at the front of the school.  Volunteers may not support at school for the time-being.   We are sad about these limitations but understand their role in keeping students safe.

16.Dressing for the weather

Because of limitations around physical distancing, we are not able to have students enter the building early at the beginning of the day as we are not able to ensure physical distancing in the school hallways where students typically wait until the bell rings.  As our gym capacity during pandemic times is 65, far below our school population, we may not use it as a back-up space.  As a result, students will be waiting outside in heat, cold or rain until the bell rings and they are able to enter following our class cohort entry routines.  Please be sure each student is dressed for the elements to accommodate this change to how we will need to operate during pandemic times.

17.Beginning of school year priorities

Students and staff will be spending the first few weeks practising the routines that will allow us to respect COVID-19 public health and board protocols and procedures.  Staff will be establishing an online learning environment within the first days of school to accommodate any need to move to online learning as situations develop.  Well-being and being cognizant of the worry and potential stress that everyone is experiencing will inform our actions.  Gentle requests and redirection toward safety protocols and practices will be part of how we will do things.  This whole situation is new for everyone and we will work to keep safety and well-being as the foundation on which we build learning.

18. When do students or staff have to go/stay home?

The school will be monitoring staff and students for any signs/symptoms of COVID-19.  Families are asked to continue performing the daily student screening checklist.  When one symptom is noted (that is not linked to a chronic condition like allergies, asthma, etc.), the staff or student is expected to go/stay home.  All individuals in the same household must go/stay home as well, due to household exposure.  Public Health direction is for the symptomatic person to get COVID testing (but other family members may understandably want the reassurance of a test as well).  All of the below clarifications reflect a high level of caution on the part of the Ministry of Education, Public Health and the Board.  The information below reflects information that came out to schools later yesterday.

Student (and any siblings in the same household) went home or stayed home due to detection of a COVID sign or symptom:  students may not come back until…

  1. A COVID test has been taken by the symptomatic person and results are negative.
  2. If COVID test results confirm a case, student stays home 14 days along with all siblings in the same household.  Please report positive case to the school.
  3. In both above cases, 24 hours need to have passed since the last sign or symptom was present with all members within a household.

Student/Staff exposed to another person outside of school with confirmed COVID  case or to someone who has traveled outside of Canada in the last 14 days:

  1. Report to public health.
  2. All those exposed get a COVID test (a negative test does not shorten the confinement period in Point C.).
  3. Must stay at home 14 days (if exposure happened in the same household, all students in the household need to stay home 14 days) plus 24 hours following the last noted symptom.

19. Clarification on masks and hand sanitizer

The Ministry and Board have worked to procure masks for staff and hand sanitizer for use by everyone in the school. Out of an abundance of caution, following the guidance of local and provincial health officials, we are counting on masks as a way to contain the spread of COVID-19. We are following the guidance that when 2m of distance can’t be assured, masks should be worn. Each school is balancing this reality differently based on things like numbers of students at the school, size of hallways, numbers of bathrooms and fixtures in each of those bathrooms, numbers of entryways, and the list goes on.

 

At John Mahood, we have found a way where we can create sufficient distancing to allow students to go out for nutrition breaks. Not all schools have been able to make that work due to site limitations. Although each class cohort has their own separate space outside, on the way to and from those spaces, we are wanting to support safety of all students in case they come into closer contact during transition times. In addition, each class cohort is being encouraged to maintain physical spacing when outside but as they enjoy some free time, mistakes may happen. Please know that staff are reinforcing physical distancing, but we know that because mistakes will happen, masks are there to provide an additional layer of protection.

 

Students are able to take off their masks during eating times and when they are taken out as 1 class cohort by their teacher, where physical distancing can be ensured with a higher degree of confidence. We know the system isn’t perfect, but we are working actively to perfect it. We will be reviewing and updating processes and procedures as time goes on, making improvements to help us all get through this period of mask wearing to ensure our collective safety.

 

When it comes to hand sanitizers, the Board provides liquid gel sanitizer to students and staff. Our health and safety personnel and public health have determined that staff need to be the ones dispensing the sanitizer unless students are at an eating time, when personal hand sanitizers can be used. We are fortunate to have sinks in almost all classes, so hand washing is able to be practiced there as well as in our washrooms. Given the need for physical distancing, making hand washing happen in a safe and timely manner is something each class is working through. Hand sanitizers are used when hand washing for large groups of students can’t be carried out in a safe, effective and efficient manner. Hand sanitizers exist in a variety of formats.  Those brought from home may not be sprays as spraying of any liquid is contrary to our health and safety policies (sprays create an aerosol which can be harmful and as a result is not allowed as per established health and safety policy). Please provide only non-spraying (squirt-bottle) foams, liquids or gels.