COMMUNITY INFORMATION BULLETIN
September 2020 School Reopening
June 22, 2020
Dear Parents/Guardians and Families:
Over the next few weeks, Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB) staff will be developing detailed plans for the reopening of schools in September 2020.
The Ministry of Education (Ministry) has released a Guidance Document, Approach to Reopening Schools for the 2020-2021 School Year, to help school boards plan. This include matters related to Health and Safety, case reporting and follow up. Read the Minister's letter to parents/guardians on this matter.
DPCDSB is planning for reopening with the possibility of three program delivery scenarios:
- Continuation of online/distance learning;
- Adapted delivery of program with students attending school on alternate days;
- Conventional delivery of program with strict Health and Safety protocols.
School boards are required to develop plans for all three scenarios in preparation for reopening in September. Further direction is expected in mid-August and will be subject to approval by local public health authorities. Ministry direction will be provided to adopt one of the three forms of program delivery options, identified above, with the potential of using a combination of these options throughout the school year, should direction from local public health authorities require it.
Online, distance learning, which we have referred to as Continuity of Catholic Learning, would see students accessing the curriculum and program delivery remotely from home. DPCDSB staff will develop a protocol, similar to the one created by the Ministry at the onset of school closures including the establishment of minimum expectations for students to have direct synchronous contact with their teacher on a regular basis. Synchronous learning can be used as part of whole class instruction, in smaller groups of students, and/or in a one-on-one context. As school reopening is just ten weeks away, and as more regions in Ontario begin their reopening phases, we are hopeful that we will not need to employ this option.
Should the Ministry's direction in August be a conventional program delivery model, students would return to school in the manner that existed prior to school closures. The main difference, however, from the pre-pandemic environment, would be the necessary adherence to strict health and safety guidelines and protocols, including case reporting, contact tracing, and hygiene and sanitization protocols.
To operationalize the Adapted delivery model, school boards have been asked to consider the following:
1. Physical Distancing
Physical distancing will be the most important element in all return to school plans which incorporate an Adapted delivery model. For example, a two-metre physical distancing requirement will impact the number of students in classrooms. In addition, the ability to transport students to and from school and the number of students permitted to be on a school bus will also be impacted by physical distancing requirements. The Ministry has advised that there can be no more than 15 students in one group or class at a time. Note that if Adapted delivery is the direction from the public health authorities in August, not all students will be able to attend school all day, every day. DPCDSB staff will develop a plan that will involve students physically attending school on alternate days, and remaining home for others. Note, also, that in an Adapted delivery model, parents would be responsible for childcare on the days when their child(ren) are not in attendance. On the days when their child(ren) are not physically present at school, online delivery models will be used.
2. Multiple Forms of Program Delivery
School boards are required to plan for the delivery of education in multiple forms, including in-person, as well as distance learning, should that be the direction from the local public health authorities in August. The ability to plan for both formats provides school boards with the flexibility to accommodate a modified school year calendar and a modified student attendance schedule (should not all students be in school physically at the same time) and/or revert to a completely on-line format if such direction is given by local public health authorities. DPCDSB has invested in virtual platforms such as Zoom, Google Classroom, and Microsoft Teams to ensure that all educators have the tools they require to provide for meaningful, synchronous learning.
3. Student Cohorting
To limit the amount of physical interaction and to maintain physical distancing on a both a student-to-student and student-to-staff basis, the practice of student cohorting will be considered as a component of a reopening plan. Student cohorting includes keeping a group of students, not greater than 15, together throughout the school day with one assigned teacher. This strategy limits student interaction in hallways and traditional areas of congregation within a school building, and also has the ability to limit potential exposure to COVID-19. Student cohorting also assists with case follow-up and contact tracing. Direction with respect to recess, lunch, and physical activity as a cohort will be included in the plan.
4. Planning with Co-Terminous School Board(s)
To ensure consistency of access to education and workspaces throughout the region, it is important that the co-terminous (i.e., Peel District School Board and Upper Grand District School Board) and other neighbouring school boards in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) develop reopening strategies which are aligned with one another and are informed by the local public health authorities. This will require collaboration between staff responsible for developing the reopening plans across school boards.
In order to support our local plans and our collaboration with other boards, parents/guardians will be asked to complete a brief survey that will allow us to determine and plan for community needs. This will be sent to you soon.
At this point, DPCDSB is planning for multiple reopening options, with an expectation that further direction will be received from the Ministry and public health officials by mid-August.
We will provide updates as they become available throughout the summer, distributed through School Messenger, posting to the DPCDSB website and through DPCDSB social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram).
A parent/guardian survey is also being developed to gather input regarding reopening.
Please check our website regularly for updates: www.dpcdsb.org
Thank you for your continued patience and understanding. We continue to wish you and your families health and happiness, and best wishes for a safe summer.