January 26, 2021
As part of a safe return for our students and staff, the Ministry of Education is mandating the following increased safety measures for when we return face to face learning (full details are below):
- New masking requirements for students in Grades 1 - 3 and new requirements to wear masks outdoors when a physical distance of 2m cannot be maintained.
- Enhanced screening protocols (confirmation of self-screening for all secondary students prior to or upon arrival to school).
- Increased enforcement to avoid congregating of students before and after school.
- Targeted testing for eligible schools.
- Mandatory refresher training for all students on their first day back to school.
Masking will now be required for all students in Grades 1-12. Reasonable exceptions on the requirement to wear masks will apply. Please contact your school principal if you are looking to apply for an exemption. Students in Kindergarten will continue to be encouraged but will not be required to wear masks.
Masking requirements for all students Grades 1-12 will also be in place for specified outdoor activities where physical distancing (2m of space) is not possible.
If you are a parent or caregiver to a child who has not been required to wear a mask and does not have a great deal of experience with masks – it would be worthwhile to begin introducing proper mask techniques at home over the next little while.
We recommend that parents send additional clean masks with students in case one becomes soiled or wet throughout the day. Schools also keep extra masks in the office if a student forgets to bring one or needs one throughout the day.
If you would like more information about masks, please read our “AMDSB Back to School Plan”. Details about masks can be found in the Personal Protective Equipment section on page 19.
One of the most important things that we can do to minimize COVID-19 transmission is to self-screen every day before attending school. This is mandatory for all students. The school screening tool can be found here. **Note: the tool was updated on January 18, 2021.
Also, when we return to school, secondary students (grades 9 to 12) will be required to confirm verbally that they have completed the screening tool each day. This will be completed as part of the attendance procedure each morning. Students who cannot confirm that they have completed the self-screening will be asked to complete it. Reasonable accommodations will be made for students who are not able to provide verbal confirmation.
Students are not permitted to congregate on school grounds before or after school. This is not a new requirement but it will be strictly enforced upon student return to school. In order to help with this, please ensure students do not arrive earlier than 5 minutes before school begins, and that they leave school grounds promptly at the end of the day. Once students are off school property, it is up to students and their parents/guardians to adhere to physical distancing safety measures. We ask that you please speak to your child about the importance of this focus area. Students who are transported to or from school on buses will be supervised as necessary in the buildings.
The Ministry of Education will be expanding targeted testing for students, staff and their respective households. Testing will be voluntary and will also include child care settings.
Testing has helped to identify cases early, inform public health decisions, and manage outbreaks. Expanding access to testing will be a valuable tool for parts of the province experiencing high levels of community transmission and outbreaks. Additional details will be provided once we receive them.
All students will receive a refresher training session on the first day back to in person learning. The refresher will focus on COVID-19 safety protocols, including hand hygiene and proper masking, and will discuss the importance of mental health and tips to support mental health and wellness.
Mental Health Supports
The mental health and well-being of students and staff is of critical importance. Schools are an ideal setting for mental health promotion, prevention, early identification and intervention. Students who report feeling mentally well, are more ready to learn, feel a stronger sense of belonging at school, and perform better academically.
School Mental Health Ontario (SMHO) has developed a Student Mental Health Action Kit that is available on the School Mental Health Ontario website. It includes student-friendly tools that can help students prepare for learning related to mental health. Click the links below to find resources related to the target group:
We urge families to be considerate of the current state of emergency and stay at home order that the Province of Ontario has in place. Full details here. Most importantly, we are being asked to stay home. Only leave for necessary reasons (going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise, or for essential work). We all must work together to reduce the number of cases in Huron and Perth, and Ontario. We know that as community transmission increases, so do cases in schools, so reducing the numbers in our community is crucial to the safe reopening of our schools.
Dr. Lisa Walsh
Director of Education