September Ready Project Update #4

Since June, our #SeptemberReady team has been working to prepare for the safe return to school in September.  Our plan is being developed by a team of professionals, with expertise in emergency planning, education and school administration.  The team has worked closely with the Lambton and Chatham-Kent Medical Officers of Health to ensure a safe return to school for students and staff.  Our priorities are the health, safety and mental wellbeing for all students and staff; and effective communication to families, staff and community partners.

Like you, we have been awaiting direction from the Ministry of Education regarding the return to school model.  Today, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce directed that all elementary and secondary schools of the St. Clair Catholic District School Board will reopen in September with full-time in person classroom learning, with enhanced safety measures.

We are now able to finalize our plan, based on this direction and under the guidance of public health and expert paediatric advice from the Hospital for Sick Kids, which can be found at:

These plans include:

  • Screening to prevent symptomatic individuals from entering the school – in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, students and staff who have signs and symptoms of the virus must stay home.  Daily screening using the COVID-19 self-assessment is required for students and staff.
  • Hand hygiene – training for the use of routine, frequent and proper hand hygiene is critical to limit transmission of the virus.  Hand sanitizers and hand soap are available in all schools.
  • Physical distancing reduces contact that may lead to transmission of the virus.  Movement of students both inside and outside the building will be controlled to reduce contact among students and staff.  Cohorting will also reduce contact.
  • School signage – extensive signage will be located both inside and outside school buildings, to help direct the movement of students and to promote health, safety and wellness.  Types of signage will include directional signs, physical distancing reminders, handwashing/sanitizing reminders and directing visitor access to schools.
  • Masks – Students in Grade 4 to 12 will be required to wear non-medical or cloth masks while in school; Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be encouraged but not required to wear masks in common spaces; Medical masks will be provided for teachers and all other school staff.
  • Enhanced cleaning measures to reduce the risk of transmission is in place for all schools and Board facilities.
  • Mental health and wellbeing supports are available for students and staff. 
  • Managing confirmed or suspected illness/outbreaks – With support and direction from Public Health Ontario and the Lambton and Chatham-Kent public health units, St. Clair Catholic will respond to illness and outbreaks and inform parents/guardians and staff.  Decisions about testing and return to school will be determined by public health.
  • Early transitions for students with special needs – opportunities are being developed for the early transition of students with special needs, both in the school setting and through online services.  There will be further communication directly with parents/guardians of students who require these services.
  • Transportation – CLASS, the consortium that manages transportation services for St. Clair Catholic, has a plan in place that aligns with the return to school model and protects the health and safety of eligible riders and drivers.  CLASS will communicate directly with eligible riders in August.
  • Health and safety training for all Board personnel prior to the return to school.  
  • Developmentally appropriate health and safety training for students.

To assist with planning, parents/guardians and adult students (18 years and older) will be asked declare their intent, whether to attend school or enrol in a full time online distance learning model for the 2020-2021 school year.  Details will be provided in a form which will be emailed to parents/guardians and adult students tomorrow, Friday, July 31, 2020.  Respondents will have one week to complete the survey.

You can be confident that because of the careful planning by our team of experienced leaders, we will be #SeptemberReady.  The health and safety of staff and students is our priority and we will continue to honour our mission to provide a Future Ready Catholic education, filled with opportunities for success and excellence for all students. 

For the latest updates, continue to watch for direct emails from the Board; or visit our #SeptemberReady page on the Board website at:   

Deb Crawford
Director of Education