Director’s Message to Families:
Dear TLDSB Families;
My name is Wes Hahn, and I am the new Director of Education for Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB). I had certainly hoped that my first message to our families would be under different circumstances. Instead, I am writing to you today to let you know that we understand the difficulty in making a decision about your child or children returning to school in September.
Learning at home from March to June was a challenge for everyone. There are no two ways about it. And while some students thrived in the at-home learning environment, many have struggled and need to be back in a structured classroom environment. Following the Ministry of Education’s directive, all Kindergarten to Grade 12 students will be attending school all day, every week day beginning September 8, unless parents choose at-home remote learning.
In order to plan for the return to school, it is very important that you re-register your child by Thursday, August 13. We will not be able to make determinations on classroom make up, schedules, or bus routes until we know who is coming to school in September, and who will be staying at home for remote learning. If you have had any difficulty or did not receive a re-registration form by email, please use this form: https://bit.ly/TLDSB_Rereg.
Many families want to know if they can change their mind about their choice for in-school or at-home learning. Once your choice about in-school or at-home learning has been made, this will remain the program for your child until late October. We cannot make changes prior to this because any change means alterations to classroom cohorts and to bussing route schedules. This decision has been made in the best interest of safety of our students and our staff.
I’d like to outline a few items to reassure you that we are putting the best plans in place as possible for the safety and well-being of our students. Your child’s safety is our first priority. Please know that. While our planning continues, here’s what you can count on when your child comes to school in September:
- There will be scheduled enhanced cleaning in classrooms and in all high-touch areas in the school several times throughout the day, and a deep cleaning once students leave the school at the end of the day and first thing in the morning.
- Your child will be cohorted within their classroom and contact with others outside their cohort will be limited.
- Anything your child or any staff member brings to school will be taken home at the end of the day.
- Desks will be in old-fashioned rows and teachers will remain, where possible, at the front of the classroom.
- Your Grade 4 to Grade 12 child will be wearing a mask that you provide from home. We will also have masks available at the school. They will wear this mask throughout the day unless they are eating, or are outside and can safely physically distance. Kindergarten to Grade 3 children are encouraged to wear a mask.
- Grade 4 to 12 students must wear a mask while travelling to and from school on a school bus. Kindergarten to Grade 3 students will be encouraged to wear a mask on the bus.
- Teachers will be providing clear instructions and reminders for lunchtime and washroom breaks, for mask wearing, hand hygiene, and safe cough/sneeze practices.
- There will be arrows and signs throughout the school providing clear directions to students.
- Only essential visitors will be permitted to enter the school. Parents will not be allowed in the school unless it is an emergency.
- All teachers will be wearing masks. Students may see some staff members wearing full PPE, including a gown, gloves, face shields,and masks. These are staff members who work with students with special needs who may require closer contact than other students.
- Almost all subjects will be taught in elementary and secondary school classrooms, with a few exceptions. In elementary schools, teachers other than the classroom teacher may come into the classroom to teach a particular subject (e.g. French). Secondary students will have up to two classes each day, so will be in up to two cohorts.
- There will be instructions provided for what to do if your child is sick or becomes ill while at school.
- Parents must complete a symptoms checklist for each child at home prior to attending school each day to determine that they are symptom-free.
Here’s what you can do to prepare your child for school:
- Practice wearing a mask. Show your child how to put on and how to remove a mask safely. This is especially important if your child is in Kindergarten to Grade 3, practicing wearing a mask will make it a much easier transition to school.
- Practice washing hands and using hand sanitizer. Talk about the importance of hand washing throughout the day.
- Have your child practice not touching their face. Try to make a game of seeing how long your child can go without touching their face.
- Talk about physical distancing. There could be a full class of students in your child’s cohort or secondary school classroom. Students in classrooms will not be able to physically distance by 2 metres, but they can make efforts to distance themselves as much as possible (e.g. not touching another student).
- If they will be riding a school bus, talk about remaining in their seat, facing the front, not touching other students, and wearing their mask at all times.
I’ve offered you a few ideas and some of the items that are planned for in-school learning. For those who plan on choosing at-home remote learning, please be prepared for a different experience than in the spring. All students, in-school or at-home, must complete 300 minutes a day of learning. At-home, some of this time will be synchronous learning with a teacher providing instruction, and some will be independent learning throughout the day. Families will have the opportunity to connect with at-home remote learning teachers.
We appreciate all the questions we have received and we are responding to them as quickly as we can with the information we have available to us at this time. There are still some unanswered questions and public health are helping us to gather answers to provide to you soon. Please visit tldsb.ca/returntoschool/ often, as we will be updating this page as soon as any new information is available.
Despite the difficult time we are in, I am looking forward to this new school year. We want the very best and care about your child’s well-being and academic success. The plans we have in place to keep your child safe at school are our first priority, but the importance of teaching and learning remains at the forefront of our planning alongside preparation for a safe school environment.
Director of Education