Important Information from the Ontario Ministry of Education

Dear Parents/Guardians,

The St. Clair Catholic District School Board continues to follow direction from the Ontario Ministry of Education, based on advice from Public Health Ontario and the local Medical Officers of Health. 

The Ministry has provided the following updated information:

  • Elementary and secondary students in Windsor-Essex, Peel Region, Toronto, York and Hamilton Public Health Units (PHUs) will continue to learn remotely and will return to in-person learning on February 10, 2021.
  • By January 20, 2021 the Chief Medical Officer of Health will advise the Ministry of Education on which PHUs may be permitted to resume in-person instruction as of January 25, based on the most up-to-date data and modelling.
  • Boards will be required to align with the direction provided for the PHU in which their schools are located.
  • Students in northern PHUs returned to in-person learning on January 11, 2021 and these schools will continue to be open.  Some northern schools have been closed based on direction of local PHUs and school boards should continue to follow local PHU direction. 

School board and school-based staff who can work from home will continue to be asked to do so. Schools will continue to be open so that in-person instruction of students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated through remote learning continues throughout this period and to support staff who are unable to work from home. 

Child care centres and home-based licensed and unlicensed child care remain open during this time. During this extended period of online learning, in areas where in-person instruction for elementary students is suspended, emergency child care will continue.

To support the return of in-person learning and based on advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health, additional health and safety measures are being introduced to support students and staff across the province as they return to school. The ministry will be working with the Ministry of Health to update school board guidance documents with these additional measures. 

The St. Clair Catholic District School Board will update our guidance documents based upon advisement of the Provincial and Local Medical Officers of Health, and the Ministry of Education in preparation for the possible return to in person learning date of January 25, 2021. 

Screening 

More information on screening will be available over the coming days. Students, staff and families can continue to access the COVID-19 school and child care screening tool by visiting https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/.

Masking 

Masking will now be compulsory for all students in Grades 1-3. Reasonable exceptions on the requirement to wear masks will apply. This masking requirement will be additional to the existing requirement for students in Grades 4-12. Students in Kindergarten will continue to be encouraged but will not be required to wear masks. 

Masking requirements will also be in place for specified outdoor activities where physical distancing is not possible. More information on this requirement will follow in the updated school board guidance documents.

Congregating

To support provincial efforts to stop further spread of COVID-19, school boards are asked to highlight the importance of students not congregating before school starts and returning directly home after school. 

Expanded Targeted Testing 

Phase 1 of the approach to targeted testing in schools saw over 9,000 students, staff and household members tested in over 60 schools. Building on these efforts, the ministry will continue to work with the Ministry of Health, Ontario Health, local public health units and school boards to promote safe learning environments through expanded access to COVID-19 testing. Schools and child care settings will be identified by local public health, with a focus on those experiencing outbreaks, with high case counts, or in high priority communities and will be on a voluntary basis. 

We will continue to provide updates as information becomes available.  As always, please continue to follow the advice of our public health professionals, to keep yourself and your family safe and well.

God bless,

Deb Crawford
Director of Education