Delayed Opening of School

Delayed Opening of School
Posted on 01/02/2022

Dear Families, 

I hope that this communication finds your family healthy and safe as we continue to be challenged by the ongoing pandemic. Yesterday, the Ontario Ministry of Education directed that all Ontario schools will remain closed to all students on January 3 and 4, 2022. In-person and virtual school will resume for students on January 5, 2022. Read the full government release.

We understand this delay will pose a challenge to many families, and may create added stress and inconvenience. We thank you for your patience as we work to ensure schools remain safe spaces for students and staff where learning can continue.

A lot of information regarding schools was released yesterday and we are reviewing it to understand the changes and make necessary adjustments to our school routines and health and safety protocols.

Here is what you need to know:

  • All learning – in-person and virtual – resumes January 5, 2022.
  • Child care: Before and after care programs will not operate while schools are closed to students on January 3 and 4. Full-day childcare centres may continue to operate on January 3 and 4, but families should connect directly with the operator to confirm
  • Confirmation of Screening: Families must diligently screen students for symptoms of COVID-19 using a revised screening tool. Students and families are also required to complete the confirmation of COVID-19 screening before coming to school each morning. Students should not come to school if they have any symptoms and/or feel sick. Families should ensure they test students using the Rapid Antigen Tests provided before the break as an additional screening tool before returning students to school next week. If the test is positive, students should isolate according to new public health directives and not come to school.
  • COVID case management: In the coming days, our COVID-19 response team will connect with KFL&A Public Health to review new isolation requirements and how cases and outbreaks are handled in schools.
  • Masking: Masks will remain a requirement for all staff and students in Kindergarten to Grade 12. The government will supply optional, non-fit tested N95 masks for staff and three-ply cloth masks for students upon request.
  • Ventilation: We continue to follow maintenance requirements for ventilation systems and HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) systems already deployed in schools and classrooms. Based on yesterday’s announcement, we await further information on whether Limestone will receive additional HEPA filters.
  • PCR and Rapid Antigen Testing: PCR testing will be focused on the health and long-term care sectors; however, school boards will continue to provide take-home PCR testing kits when required and available. The board has a limited number of PCR test kits and demand could quickly outstrip supply. It is our understanding that the provincial government is working toward providing additional access to Rapid Antigen Test kits for students and staff in the coming weeks.
  • Pivoting Schools: If a significant number of staff members are required to isolate due to COVID-19, schools may encounter staffing challenges as was the case before the break. There may be occasions when classrooms or schools are required to pivot from in-person learning to virtual learning for a period of time. Schools will notify families as soon as possible if this is the case. Busing and childcare could also be affected by potential staffing shortages related to COVID-19. Families should be prepared to have back up plans for school-based childcare and/or transportation should this occur.
  • Transition to virtual learning: While there is no formal transition remaining this year, requests for students to attend LDSB Virtual School will continue to be considered in extraordinary circumstances. Staff are considering additional options to support short-term, remote learning.
  • Extra-curricular activities: Based on yesterday’s announcement, all extra-curricular activities are paused at this time. More information will be shared once it is available.

I know this is a lot of information to take in. Know that staff will continue to review any additional public health and Ministry guidance to ensure a safe return to in-person learning next week.

Staff, students, and families have made an incredible effort throughout the pandemic to support our schools to be safe environments for learning and working. As a system, we will continue to do the best we can to support teaching and learning in all schools, and maximize safety. Staff will continue to focus on wellness and connect with students to promote safety, routine and support.

On a final note, public health authorities encourage everyone to continue following all guidelines to help stop the spread of COVID-19 including vaccination for all eligible individuals. Public Health has indicated that vaccinations will support our way through this stage of the pandemic, and help protect the most vulnerable among us. 

Thank you for your continued support and patience.

Stay safe and healthy, and Happy New Year.

Krishna Burra
Director of Education

Joint Letter from Minister of Education & Chief Medical Officer of Health

Important information for families regarding COVID-19 guidelines from Ontario government

Full Letter, 4 pages