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Welcome Back from the Director of Education

Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,

On behalf of our Board of Trustees, our senior team and the entire school system, I would like to welcome you back to school for the 2022-2023 school year.  I hope that you and your family enjoyed a well-deserved time of rest and relaxation with family and friends over the course of the summer.  I would like to highlight for you some of the expectations and opportunities available, as we begin a new school year.

Our school communities have demonstrated incredible flexibility and resilience during the course of the COVID pandemic.  As we now enter a new era of living with COVID, it is time to shift our thinking from apprehension and concern to hope and opportunity in our schools and communities. I am pleased that our schools are ready to return to a normalized school experience, where students can engage fully in academic, athletic, artistic, social justice, wellness and faith formation activities throughout the school day.  This will include opportunities for experiential learning and outdoor education; and in our secondary schools, a return to fully operational cafeterias.  

On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, for the 2022-2023 school year, most health and safety requirements remain unchanged from the direction previously provided to school boards at the end of the 2021-2022 school year.  That is, students are not required to remain in cohorts or wear masks at school or on school buses.  Our schools will continue to provide masks for any members of our staff, students and visitors who wish to wear them and we will continue to encourage welcoming and inclusive environments for any individuals who wish to wear a mask.  Staff and students will also continue to have access to Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs), in accordance with provincial testing guidance.  Staff or students wishing to access RATs following an unplanned absence may request test kits from the school office.

Of course, in the event that there is any change in public health guidance, St. Clair Catholic will continue to follow the advice and direction of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ministry of Education and Chatham-Kent and Lambton Public Health.

All students will continue to have access to school-based mental health services provided by our exceptional support staff.  For more information, visit the Mental Health and Wellbeing page of the Board website here.  In addition, School Mental Health Ontario has excellent resources for educators, students and parents, which are available here. A new student-focused website, which centres on student perspectives and provides easy access to mental health learning, tools and supports is also available here.  Parents who have concerns about the wellness of their child should speak to the classroom teacher and/or school principal.

While daily COVID screening is no longer a mandatory requirement; nor is it documented, it is recommended that staff, students and visitors continue to self-screen each day before attending school using the COVID-19 school and child care screening tool. Anyone who is feeling unwell should stay home to prevent the spread of illness.

Appropriate hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette will be promoted and integrated throughout the school day. Hand sanitizer will continue to be available in every school.

Our Facility Services staff have worked throughout the summer to clean and organize our schools.  We will continue with enhanced cleaning protocols, which require the cleaning/disinfecting of high-touch surfaces at least once daily.  Over the past three years, St. Clair Catholic has invested $7.7 million in school ventilation upgrades.  Our schools are equipped with excellent ventilation systems (MERV 13 highest-grade filters and additional HEPA filters that meet or exceed ministry requirements) in every classroom, portable and school.  For more information regarding ventilation in our schools, please visit the Board website at: 

Our schools will continue to monitor absence rates and collaborate closely with our local public health units to support student well-being and health and safety in schools. Public health units will be notified whenever absence rates due to illness in schools exceed what is considered typical. 

For the 2022-2023 school year, the Ministry of Education is working with the Office of the Fire Marshal on a return to pre-pandemic total evacuation fire drill procedures in schools. These procedures are specific to individual schools and are documented in fire safety plans that are approved by Chiefs of local fire and emergency services. Information from the Office of the Fire Marshal about fire drill procedures in schools will be shared at a later date.

The St Clair Catholic District School Board remains committed to achieving success in the four priorities outlined in our Strategic Plan:  Learning and Innovation, Faith and Well-being, Partnerships and Catholic Citizenship.  We strive every day to achieve our mission:  Learning together today, transforming tomorrow and we look forward to working in partnership with you to ensure your child(ren) become the very best that God has created them to be.

I hope that you are enjoying these last few days of the summer break, as we look forward to the new school year with excitement, renewed energy and optimism!  See you on September 6th! 

Scott Johnson
Director of Education