COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

On this page:

  • Health and Safety
  • Learning Model Selection 
  • Teaching and Learning

 

Health and Safety

Along with our school board partners, York Region Public Health continues to follow the evidence-informed guidance of our provincial partners in the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, Public Health Ontario and others.  

More information on the benefits of mask usage as an effective tool to combat the spread of COVID-19 can be found at the York Region Staying Safe at School webpage and Mandatory Use of Face Masks and Coverings webpage. This page also has information and links to evidence-based information and how to properly care for a non-medical mask. To keep students and staff safe, there is a mandatory masking requirement for students in Grades 1 to 12 indoors in school, including hallways and during classes, on school transportation and outdoors, where physical distancing cannot be maintained. There remain opportunities throughout the school day for students to safely remove their masks. Your local school can speak to this in further detail.   

More information can also be found at:

Students are required to wear masks while in the school. They will be allowed to remove their mask while eating lunch.  Elementary students are able to take mask breaks during recess and lunch recess as long as they maintain distance from others. Secondary students are able to take mask breaks during lunch.

 

Confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 are reported by the Principal to Public Health. Schools will follow the advice of public health related to contact tracing, communication to staff and families, cleaning and disinfection, duration of isolation, etc.

 

All staff and students must self-screen every day before attending school.

On a daily basis, parents/guardians of students under 18 and students over 18 are responsible to review and adhere to the COVID-19 School and Child-Care Screening Tool (please click on Check for Symptoms Daily), prior to entering the school daily.

Examples include: creating designated routes for students to get to and from classrooms, maximizing the use of all possible entrances/exits to support the beginning and end of the school days and providing visual cues/physical guides.

Students, including elementary students, may go home at lunch time.

 

In order to minimize congregation, students are asked to bring both snacks and lunches to school each day.

The Ministry has indicated that nutrition/third party food programs are permitted to operate, provided that food handlers use adequate food handling and safety practices.  We will continue to consult with Public Health and provide additional information as it becomes available.

Classrooms with mechanical ventilation will be fitted with MERV13 filters, fresh air rates will be increased to maximum the system can provide before discomfort and a 2 hour purge will occur each morning before staff and students arrive and 2 hours after staff and students leave.

Classrooms without mechanical ventilation, isolation rooms and Kindergarten classes will be provided with Portable HEPA Air filter units. School specific details will be shared using a Ministry template dashboard by September.

 

On August 3, 2021, the Minister of Education announced a back-to-school plan for September. Details of the plan are available on the Ministry of Education website: Health, safety and operational guidance for schools (2021-2022). We will continue to work with public health authorities to ensure a safe return to school in September and share information with families as it becomes available.

Classes will be the same size as in the past.  We will continue to work with public health authorities to ensure a safe return to school in September and share information with families as it becomes available.

 

School vehicles can operate at full capacity. Vehicles for elementary students should reduce capacity where possible. The seat directly behind the driver in school buses will remain empty to maintain physical distancing between the driver and students. Where school vehicles are able to operate at less than full capacity, students will be seated in a manner that maximizes physical distancing.

For more information, visit the COVID-19 Student Transportation webpage

Students in Grades 1 to 12 are required to wear properly fitted non-medical or cloth masks indoors in school, including in hallways and during classes, as well as on school vehicles.  Students in kindergarten are encouraged but not required to wear non-medical or cloth masks. 

 

Medical masks (surgical/procedural) are required to be worn by school staff and visitors indoors in school, including in hallways and during classes.

 

As much distancing as possible between students, between students and staff and between staff members will be promoted.

Students are not required to wear masks outdoors, but distancing will be encouraged between cohorts as much as possible.

 

 

Learning Model Selection

Parents/guardians are to inform the school’s main office of the reason for the child's absence.  A student may attend remotely if the class is already hybrid; however, the teacher will mark the student as absent as the student's attendance is directly tied to their learning model.  COVID-19 related absences will not count in the absence summary for report card purposes.

  • Absences due to COVID-19 related issues (e.g,.self-isolate/quarantine) 
    • Parents/guardians to inform the school’s main office of the reason the student will be absent
    • Students are to be accommodated with remote learning as soon as possible. 
    • If the class is already hybrid, then students can access remote learning as soon as possible. 
    • If the class is not hybrid, then a student can be supported through regular classroom/school practice, as well as Google Classroom/D2L (i.e., asynchronous)
      • The class is to move to remote learning as soon as possible to maintain continuity of learning for the student. It may take up to 48 hours to make the arrangements for the class to become a Hybrid Class.

 

  • Absences due to short-term illness (unrelated to COVID-19)
    • Parents/guardians to inform the school’s main office of the reason the student is going to be absent.
    • Students will be marked absent with the appropriate reason code. 
    • If the class is already hybrid, the student can access the class’s digital platform, however the student is marked absent. 
    • If the class is not currently hybrid, the student can be supported through regular classroom/school practice, as well as Google Classroom/D2L (i.e., asynchronous).  

 

  • Absences due to long term illness (unrelated to COVID-19)
    • Families should communicate with the school principal to discuss long term absences.

 

  • Absences due to vacation 
    • Remote learning is not intended to provide temporary education while students are on vacation. 
    • If the class is already hybrid, then students can access the class’s digital platform or may be supported through past classroom/school practice.  This may include asynchronously through the Google Classroom/D2L.
    • If the class is not currently hybrid, then a student can be supported through past classroom/school practice, as well, this may include asynchronously through the Google Classroom/D2L.  A class is not required to become hybrid to accommodate a student on vacation.

 

Students may join the class virtually if the class is already hybrid, however attendance is directly tied to a student’s learning model. 

Hybrid learning is our Board's response to the pandemic and the requirement to offer remote learning. It allows students to remain connected to their home school and for pivoting to remote learning when/if required.

It is important to support the stability of our schools and classrooms throughout the year and the opportunity to plan and prepare for student learning.

The Hybrid learning model allows for system, school, and cohort switches between learning in-person to remote if required by Public Health. Individual requests for remote learning may also be considered for medical/health or other extenuating reasons. If switches are required, students remain with their home school and class.

 

No, these absences, based on the way they are coded, will not count in the absence summary for report card purposes.

Extenuating circumstances could include the need to quarantine, public health requirements or other health/medical needs.

 

Additional entry points will be monitored through the year based on continued information from public health.  Students in both elementary or secondary schools who selected remote learning may move to in-person learning during the year with the understanding that in-person learning would remain their learning model.

In elementary schools, an initial opportunity to switch models will be provided after the first month of school. This aligns with the regular elementary school reorganization that occurs each year.  In secondary schools, an opportunity to switch models will be provided after the mid-point of the semester (mid-November). 

All requests should be discussed with the school principal. 

As we receive additional information from the Ministry and Public Health, this information will be updated as required.

Specific requests such as this should be discussed with the school principal if the need arises. 

 

Requests for remote learning should be discussed with the school principal if the need arises.

Yes, as needing to quarantine requires a student to learn remotely for a period of time.

 

Teaching and Learning

The learning model will be hybrid. Families will have the ability to opt for in-person or remote learning connected to their home school. Both in-school learners and remote learners will be a part of their home school, be in the same class and taught simultaneously by the same educator.  Remote learners will participate in the same curriculum experiences as in-school learners according to the same schedule. The same school hours will be followed by all students, regardless of whether they are engaging in learning at school or remotely.

The ministry has directed boards to provide options for families to learn through either a face-to-face mode (in-person) or a virtual model within the funding envelope received from the province. The hybrid model allows for flexibility and for students and families to choose their model for learning. This means that students attending face-to-face and students attending remotely will be taught simultaneously by the same educators. We will continue to follow public health guidelines in all our decision-making as the safety of our students is always our top priority as we work to engage students in learning during these challenging times.

 

Virtual schools are very costly to run. Unlike this year, the Ministry has indicated that there will be no additional funding provided to operate separate virtual schools. Virtual schools also disconnect students and their families and staff from their home schools, and we’ve heard from families that maintaining a connection to their school is a priority.

 

Each school will determine the composition of classes based on the number of students who choose in-person and remote learning. Schools will work to limit the number of classes that will be hybrid.  At times, a class can be completely face-to-face or remote, however, any class can become a hybrid class based on the changing needs of students and families.

 

The hybrid model has numerous benefits including keeping remote learners connected to their home school with their friends and offering continuity of learning through a seamless transition from in-class learning to remote learning or vice-versa. All students receive the same classroom instruction from their teachers. Students will belong to a class in their school regardless of their chosen learning format. Students will be able to re-establish connections with their school and peers which we believe will promote positive mental health.

 

Students will learn the same curriculum and complete the same assignments, assessments and evaluations. Teachers will continue to differentiate instruction, assessment and evaluation to meet the needs of all students. Teachers have always planned learning experiences to incorporate whole group or smaller group teaching and whole class, small group and individual student support as follow-up. This will continue in the hybrid model. Our staff have taught online in the past and will continue to have opportunities for professional learning to support them.

 

The daily synchronous learning requirements from last year will remain in place for the small number of students who will be learning remotely this year.

Elementary

  • Kindergarten - 180 minutes
  • Grades 1 to 8 - 225 minutes
  • Grades 4 to 8 - 225 minutes

Secondary

  • 80 per cent of a class

Students learning remotely will access learning from the teacher's digital classroom and will engage in both synchronous and asynchronous learning throughout the day. Where possible and appropriate, at different points in the day, students may be working independently, with a partner, in a small group or as a full class depending on the nature of the learning task or lesson, as well as student needs.

 

As YRDSB moves closer to post-pandemic teaching, caring and learning, we acknowledge that students and staff will be returning in the fall having had very different pandemic experiences. Student and staff mental health, emotional connections and well-being are held at the centre of our return to learning. With this in mind, we have created a Caring and Learning Plan that supports educators and students with strategies and supports for teaching and learning in a hybrid model.

During the September PA day, educators will be able to access elementary and secondary classroom-based resources to support them with teaching students face-to-face and remotely. Topics for the learning include:

  • Digital Tools and Technology;
  • Assessment Strategies;
  • Developing Inclusive Relationships and Learning Communities;
  • Getting to Know Learners; and
  • Planning (Elementary/Secondary)

Additional optional learning will also be available prior to the school year. Planning, instruction and assessment resources and supports will continue throughout the school year.

 

Educators will use instructional practices that protect privacy, security and student dignity. The board has developed information about Privacy Considerations for Hybrid Learning for 2021-2022.

 

We are providing a return to school transition program for students with significant special education needs. It is taking place the week before school starts. There will also be an intentional focus on mental health and well-being as we return to school. Resources and professional learning will be provided to staff prior to the first day of school.

 

Student placements, including placements in an SSC, will be maintained and supported regardless of whether the student is learning in person or remotely.

 

Teachers will teach students who are learning face-to-face as well as students who selected remote learning, therefore this will not impact whether a course will be offered.

 

In an effort to create one learning community, educators may bring face-to-face and remote students together on screen to engage in instructional activities that allow student interaction, engagement and inclusion. Such activities support instruction and students’ well-being.

 

Teachers are expected to teach all students the expectations outlined in the Ontario Curriculum. Similar to last year, students will attend school five days per week, with 300 minutes of instruction.

 

We anticipate that we will be able to offer experiential learning courses for both remote and face-to-face learners. Resources have been developed for educators to support in planning for the different curriculum areas. This includes templates to support in the development of experiential learning activities in the hybrid classroom.

 

Both in-school learners and remote learners will be a part of their home school, be in the same class and taught simultaneously by the same educator. Remote learners will participate in the same curriculum experiences as in-school learners according to the same schedule. The same school hours will be followed by all students, regardless of whether they are engaging in learning at school or remotely.

 

Students will learn the same curriculum and teachers will continue to differentiate instruction, assessment and evaluation to meet the needs of students learning face-to-face and remotely to address the expectations outlined in the Drama and Physical Education curriculum. Educators will plan teaching and learning opportunities that students are able to participate actively in, interacting together as one learning community. Resources will continue to be developed for educators to engage students in opportunities for meaningful learning and purposeful practice. Our staff have taught online in the past and will continue to have opportunities for professional learning to support them.

 

Teachers will follow the school schedule. Students learning remotely will be provided an opportunity to play and eat lunch during these scheduled breaks.

 

Yes, students learning remotely will engage in assessments at the same time as their peers.

Remote learners will participate in the same curriculum experiences as in-school learners according to the same schedule. Students in the IB program who choose to learn remotely will learn in a hybrid learning environment with face-to-face students who are in the same course.

 

Similar to last year, educators will use Google Classroom or Brightspace to engage students who will be learning remotely. This year, educators will be equipped with headsets and a web-camera for the purpose of supporting remote learners to see and hear lessons. The web-camera will generally point toward the teacher and the whiteboard/chalkboard and at times, may capture the voices/images of students learning remotely or face-to-face for learning purposes. Cameras will not be permanently mounted to broadcast the full classroom.

Educators will use instructional practices that protect privacy, security and student dignity. The board has developed information about Privacy Considerations for Hybrid Learning for 2021-2022.