Limestone to Implement Staggered Entry

Limestone to Implement Staggered Entry
Posted on 08/23/2020

Dear Families,

With just under two weeks until classes resume, I am writing to provide you with further updates about the beginning of the new school year, which begins in Limestone on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020.

In the past week, the Ministry of Education announced that school boards were permitted to adopt a staggered start to the 2020-2021 school year to allow additional time for students and staff to adjust to new routines and health and safety protocols as a result of COVID-19. We are moving ahead with a staggered entry model that will see students return to our schools for some days between Thursday, Sept. 3 and Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, with all students attending together by Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. Elementary and secondary schools will organize staggered entry based on their specific school population and context. Because staggered entry plans will vary based on individual school contexts, schools will communicate their staggered entry plan directly to families using our Communicate broadcast system, and other school communication tools, early next week.

As you know, our survey asking families if they planned to have students opt out of returning to the classroom closed earlier this week. While the data needs to be further assessed, preliminary results show that under 10 per cent of students have indicated they will not return to in-person learning in September, opting for remote learning instead. This represents about 2,000 students in Limestone – 1,454 elementary students and 545 secondary/continuing education students. While we know the timeline was short, this information is critical to ensure we have staff and structures in place to support remote learners. Some families may still be undecided. You will have another opportunity to opt out (or back in to in-person learning): September 14, 2020 for elementary students and October 28, 2020 for secondary students.

Our partners at Tri-Board Student Transportation are also seeking information from families about whether or not they are choosing to opt out of school bus transportation. This could be because you have chosen remote learning for your student, or because you are choosing not to use the school bus for other reasons. Please read more about this and how Tri-Board is following COVID-19 protocols on its website.

Since last week, we have updated the frequently asked questions on our School Reopening web pages. We will continue to update these questions as new information becomes available and/or circumstances in our local community or district evolve. This means answers may change over time.

One question that continues to be raised is the process if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19. School boards and public health units await the release of a Ministry of Education Outbreak Protocol which will provide guidance. We will share this information with families as soon as it is available. In the meantime, we do encourage families to review some resources to help prepare their students for the return to school.

Our Family Reference Guide has several video and facts sheets provided by KFL&A Public Health on hand hygiene (page 24), respiratory etiquette (page 24) and mask protocol (page 26). Also, the LDSB Mental Health Team has assembled short video modules to support parents and caregivers with their student's transition back to in-person or online learning. Module one focuses on three ways to build your child's resilience. Additional modules on anxiety, sleep hygiene, and returning to in-class learning will be shared once they are available. Finally, we released a short video earlier this week that provides a brief overview of you with a snapshot of how our schools will operate, and how we plan to keep students and staff safe, based on guidelines from the Ministry of Education and KFL&A Public Health.

Given information from the Ministry of Education and public health officials continues to evolve, we continue to adapt and adjust our planning. This understandably creates some confusion or frustration among families and in the community, especially given school is now under two weeks away. We are working as quickly as we can engaging our school administrators to prepare for opening. As schools reopen August 24, families will begin to hear directly from their schools about school-specific plans. The board and schools remain focused on sharing the most up-to-date and accurate information, and being as responsive as we can, to ensure families and staff are kept informed. 

When it comes to COVID-19, the health of our school and larger communities is our best defence. Together, we must remain vigilant in following public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and maintain a healthy community. This is our most important priority and will set the best conditions for starting the school year.

Krishna Burra
Director of Education