We are looking forward to welcoming your children back for a new year of learning and faith formation in our Catholic schools beginning Tuesday, September 7. The start of the year can bring a variety of emotions for our students - hopes for a new year, the excitement of meeting new classmates, as well as feelings of anxiousness about the return to school. Our staff have been preparing to make this the best experience possible.
Earlier this month, we shared information on our Reopening Guidelines. We hope you have had the opportunity to review the information provided, but if you haven’t, it can be found here. Since the release of the Reopening Guidelines, we have continued to receive updates from the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Unit and the Ministry of Education to help support a safe return to school next week. Below is a summary of information that has been provided.
Layers of Preventative Measures
WDG Public Health and the Ministry of Education continue to promote layers of preventative measures to protect against the transmission of COVID-19. The layered approach of preventative measures include physical distancing, masking, well-ventilated spaces, hand hygiene practices, and vaccinations for eligible staff and students. By using the various preventative measures, we reduce the opportunity for transmission in our schools.
Consistent with operations last year, students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 are required to wear properly fitted face masks while indoors. Students will be provided masking breaks outside with their class cohorts at various points in the school day.
New guidance received from WDG Public Health on August 31, 2021, recommends that students wear masks outdoors when there is mixing of cohorts where distancing cannot be maintained. Where recesses are scheduled with mixed cohorts, elementary students will be required to wear masks. This guidance will be reassessed by WDG Public Health in the future. Staff will continue to provide masking breaks and learning opportunities outside for individual cohorts throughout the day.
For more information about student masking protocols or information on the exemption process for specific medical or disability exemptions, please see the Protocol for Student Face Masks posted to our School Updates page.
All students, staff and parents are asked to screen every day using the online COVID-19 school and child care screening tool.
The online COVID-19 school and child care screening tool can be found here: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/
Staff and students experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 as identified in the screening tool must not attend school and should follow the guidance provided in the screening tool. This may include seeking appropriate medical attention as required, and/or getting tested for COVID-19.
Please ensure students have completed the screening tool, prior to arriving to school. While using the screening tool in the morning has been standard practice, staff will be confirming completion of screening with students as part of morning routines to reinforce these practices.
Significant investments have been made to school HVAC systems over the past several years. All Wellington Catholic schools have exceeded the required school ventilation guidelines outlined by the Ministry of Education. Classrooms are equipped with mechanical ventilation with MERV 13 filters. HEPA filters units are present in all occupied classrooms. Ventilation systems are inspected regularly, receive regular maintenance (e.g., filter changes) and are in good working order.
For more information on improvements to Ventilation systems in the Wellington Catholic District School Board, please visit: Wellington Catholic DSB Ventilation
COVID-19 and Case Contact Tracing Updates
WDG Public Health provides guidance on situations where positive COVID-19 cases occur in school or our community. As mentioned in earlier communications, there are updated case management protocols that differ for individuals who are vaccinated or unvaccinated/partially vaccinated. A copy of the Ministry of Health Flow Chart can be found here: https://www.wdgpublichealth.ca/sites/default/files/ministry_hrc_flowchart.pdf
Throughout this week, schools have been providing communication to parents and students that reference school specific instructions to assist in the return to school next week. If you have questions pertaining to the return to school, please feel free to contact your school directly.
Our focus over the coming weeks and months is ensuring a safe return to school for all, establishing routines with attention to learning and instruction, supporting the mental health and well-being of our students, and providing opportunities for students to learn and practice their faith. We look forward to partnering with you on these goals.