Q: Where can I get accurate information on COVID-19?
COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) Resources:
Halton Region Public Health can be contacted at 311 or toll free at 1-866-442-5866. Q: Where are the COVID assessment centres located?
Assessment centre information regarding testing and results is available through
COVID Assessment Centres- Halton
. To make an appointment call 905-203-7963. Assessment centres are located at:
Q: Will students and staff be required to get a COVID-19 test prior to the first day of school?
(updated Sept. 17)
- Georgetown Hospital
- Milton District Hospital
- Joseph Brant Hospital
- Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital
We will not be requiring staff or students to have a test prior to reopening. We are requiring families and staff to complete the Ministry of Education’s
school screening tool
each day prior to attending school. Screening and Prevent the Spread measures will be in place.
Should a staff member or student be symptomatic, they would require a test to return or self-isolate for 14 days, with 24 hours symptom free. More information can be found
Q: My child frequently has symptoms that are considered COVID-19 symptoms. Would they need to get a COVID test?
(updated Sept. 17)
A medical note confirming that the child’s symptoms are not COVID-related is an alternative to seeking a COVID test or self-isolation. Please refer to the Ministry of Education’s
school screening tool
. Q: Will students in isolation or awaiting COVID-19 test results be provided with online learning materials?
(updated Sept. 17)
Students who are exhibiting symptoms and must stay home while waiting for COVID-19 test results, or directed to self-isolate, will be provided work by their classroom teacher.
Educators will provide learning and assessment to the students in their class or course. when students are away from school.
All Kindergarten - Grade 8 students will be attached to a Google Classroom and students in Grade 9 - 12 will use BrightSpace which will also support access to learning materials in one place for students. Q: What if there were a few positive COVID-19 cases in a classroom or school? Would the class or the entire school need to shut down?
Determining who requires self-isolation due to close contact with a student or staff member testing positive for COVID-19 is the responsibility of Public Health. There are several factors considered in this process, including two or more cases and determining that the transmission of the virus occurred in the school. Schools will provide Public Health with class and bus seating plans, attendance records, etc. to assist with the contact tracing process. Students, staff and parents/guardians will be informed by email if someone tests positive in the class.
Public Health will determine whether a small cohort of students, a whole class or the entire school needs to be closed in the event of an outbreak. In these cases, staff will be prepared to deliver distance learning to ensure the continuity of learning is maintained for students.Q: Will non-medical/cloth masks or face covering be provided for students?
(updated Aug. 27)
Students are encouraged to wear their own non-medical/cloth masks or face covering to ensure the best fit for comfort. Schools will have cloth masks for families who are unable to provide one and disposable non-medical masks for students who forget their mask on a given day.Q: What is the process if a student/teacher tests positive for COVID-19?
Any person in the school with symptoms is directed to follow the same process.
Determining who requires self-isolation due to close contact with a student or staff member testing positive for COVID-19 is the responsibility of Public Health. We will work closely with Public Health to provide documentation (such as class and bus seating plans, attendance records) to assist with this process. Students, staff and parents/guardians will be informed by email if someone tests positive in the class. Whether an individual is considered high, medium or low risk from that contact is the responsibility of Public Health. Public Health contacts high and medium risk individuals directly to provide instructions. Public Health will advise those deemed high risk to self-isolate and get a test and medium risk will be advised to monitor for symptoms.
Health and Facility section
of the Reopening Schools Plan details the reporting measures in place.Q: What has been done to improve air circulation at schools?
The board has a range of building types; the majority of which utilize mechanical ventilation systems that provide fresh air. Air that is circulated throughout the building is continuously replenished with fresh air throughout the day.
All mechanical systems in the HDSB have been designed to meet the Ontario Building Code requirements and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards, applicable at the time of their construction. The HDSB has throughout the duration of the closure continued to perform maintenance and regularly change filters in all Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, and will continue to replace all mechanical system filters, six (6) times a year. Q: How will the wearing of masks be enforced with students?
There may be students in the class with an exemption (e.g., medical exemption) where a mask is not worn. Students without an exemption will be required to wear a mask. Staff will build an understanding of the benefits of wearing a mask as a member of the community, as well as an appreciation of masking differences. This understanding and skill will be developed over the beginning weeks of school. There will be visual reminders, as well as verbal cues, to help students develop this new habit.
A non-medical/cloth mask or face covering is not a replacement for proven infection control methods such as hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, physical distancing.
COVID protocols are available at rsp.hdsb.ca/health-facility
.Q: How will students eat lunch if they are wearing a mask?
Elementary students (Kindergarten to Grade 8) will be taught to safely remove and store their masks during the eating and outside portions of the nutrition break. This will include hand hygiene protocols before and after eating. Schools will be providing age-appropriate “prevent the spread” education.Q: Why have you decided now to implement non-medical/cloth masks or face coverings for Grade 1 - 3 (in addition to Grade 4 - 12)?
(added Aug. 27)
Wearing a mask is an evolving strategy and we know that the prevalence and acceptance of wearing a mask has changed dramatically since COVID-19 has been present in Ontario. It was only in early August that the Ministry of Education announced that students in Grade 4-12 must wear a non-medical/cloth mask or face covering and it was strongly encouraged for students in K-3. While we know that children under the age of 10 are not considered major spreaders of this virus, we also know that we still have a lot to learn. During the week of August 24, the HDSB consulted with Dr. Meghani, Commissioner & Medical Officer of Health, Halton Region, and decided that having students in Grade 1-3 wear non-medical/cloth masks or face coverings adds another preventative layer to complement the other preventive measures being implemented in our schools. We appreciate that wearing a mask for any length of time is a new skill for all of us. In education, we are in the business of supporting students develop new skills. This will be the approach we take with all our students in learning to tolerate a mask for the indoor portions of the day and this is particularly true for our youngest students.
We know that, for some students, wearing a mask is not advisable for a variety of reasons, including a medical condition or the developmental stage of the student. There will be an exemption process in place for these students that will include approval by the school principal. Just as we will teach students why wearing a non-medical/cloth mask or face covering can benefit others, we will be teaching understanding and compassion for those who are unable to wear a mask.Q: How many non-medical/cloth masks or face coverings changes per day would you recommend for students?
The number of masks needed will vary from student to student. A mask should be replaced when damp or soiled. It may be a good idea, over the coming weeks prior to returning to school, that students wear a non-medical/cloth mask or face covering for regular routines during their day (watching TV, etc.) to not only build a tolerance of wearing a mask but to also give you an idea of how regularly the mask needs to be changed. Should something unexpected happen while at school, we will have disposable masks on hand to give to students. We will also have non-medical/cloth masks or face coverings masks to give to a family who is having difficulty getting a mask on their own.
Halton Region Public Health has provided
tips to support students with wearing masks
.Q: Why is two metres distance required everywhere else, but only one metre distance is required in elementary schools?
In our elementary schools, we have a wide variety of classroom configurations and class sizes. Classrooms in Grade 1-12 will be arranged with individual seating, all facing the same direction (none facing each other) and spaced apart to the greatest extent possible. In secondary school, the Ministry of Education is requiring an adapted model with cohorts of 15 students. In these classrooms, a two metre distance between student seats will be achieved.
In elementary, the Ministry of Education has determined a full return to school which means cohorts of 20 students or more, depending on the grade or program. In Grade 1-8, seating will be spaced as much as possible, knowing the variances in class sizes and also room sizes. In these grades, seating will be spaced one to two metres apart.
Given the play based nature of the program, Kindergarten will look different. Students will be seated in “bubbles” with tables spaced two metres from other “bubbles”.
Physical distancing will be promoted as students move through hallways, entry and exit, as well as outdoor time.Q: I don’t want my child to use hand sanitizer numerous times a day. Can I send my child with bottles of soap instead?
We know that hand hygiene is a key strategy for reducing the spread of COVID-19. Our schools are well-equipped with both hand sanitizing and handwashing stations with soap and water. In many of our classrooms, sinks are in the room and regular hand washing will be emphasized. Where accessing a sink is less practical, students will use hand sanitizer.
As part of the learning plan, staff will teach the appropriate technique for handwashing and hand sanitizing.Q: How will school routines be altered to minimize contact?
We have implemented a myriad of preventative measures to minimize contact:
Q: Can children of frontline workers or people who must travel regularly (e.g. pilots, flight attendants) attend school?
Yes. Q: What happens if parents/guardians are unable to pick up their children during the school day if their child is showing symptoms of COVID-19?
When completing the Intent to Return survey we also asked parents/guardians to complete an acknowledgement of our health protocols. In this acknowledgement, we have asked parents/guardians to develop a plan now so you are prepared for a time when the school may call and require you to pick up your child (or children).
Students who are exhibiting symptoms at school will be removed from the classroom and accompanied to the Isolation Room to wait for pick-up. A staff member will be assigned to support that student and will be required to wear full Personal Protective Equipment (mask, shield, gown and gloves) while providing care in close proximity to the ill student.
Given the care required for a child that is ill at school, we truly hope families think about a plan now, in the event this should happen. Q: Can students wear surgical masks or higher grade PPE if they choose?
Yes, students can wear a higher level of protection if they wish. This will not be provided by the school. Please note that professional and medical grade face masks are in short supply and must be reserved for use by frontline healthcare workers during the pandemic.
Face shields are not a substitute for a face mask. Should students opt to wear a face shield, they would still need to wear a non-medical/cloth mask or face covering as well. Q: I’m concerned that the prolonged closure of schools due to COVID-19 may have led to unsafe drinking water. Has any testing been done in schools to mitigate such a concern?
Although schools have been closed to students, the HDSB custodial staff have been in the buildings since late April. They continued with the daily water flushing regime according to the Ontario Regulation 243/07. The HDSB has also serviced all our mechanical systems to ensure that the chemical treatment servicing has taken place over the spring/summer.
We have proceeded with our regular annual water testing program - water sample collection and testing started in July.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, all drinking fountain spigots have been turned off or disabled. Water bottle filling stations and sinks that are designated for drinking water are activated. Caretakers are flushing all the activated drinking water fixtures daily as required by the Ontario Regulation 243/07.