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School Reopening: Frequently Asked Questions

Limestone Learning Foundation
Please find below frequently asked questions (FAQs) broken into three categories: Health & Safety Protocols, School Day/Operations, Learning Models, Transportation and Remote Learning. Many of the answers contained below are pulled directly from the Ministry of Education Guide to Reopening Ontario's Schools. Others have been answered with consultation from provincial and local health officials. We will continue to update these questions as new information becomes available and/or circumstances in our local community or district change. This means answers may change over time.

If you have a question you do not see answered, please email it to communications@limestone.on.ca and we will do our best to find answers and include them in the appropriate category below. 

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work as quickly as we can to provide answers.


Health & Safety Protocols

Who decided that schools will reopen in September 2020?

The Ministry of Education released its Guide to Reopening Ontario’s Schools on July 30, 2020. The document provides directions to school boards and was approved by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario, and was developed in consultation with the COVID-19 Command Table and pediatric experts. The current plan has also been endorsed by our partners at KFL&A Public Health.

What safety measures will be in place to protect students and staff?

As always, our plans are based on the advice, guidance and directives of provincial and local public health officials. It is important to note that a safe school reopening is contingent on limiting community spread of COVID-19. If circumstances change, and we experience an increase in regional cases across KFL&A, we may need to adjust our model. We encourage everyone to follow public health guidelines and remain vigilant in helping to keep our communities safe.

The Ministry document provides guidance on safety and cleaning measures to help keep students and staff safe at school such as the use of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), additional school custodians, enhanced cleaning supplies and protocols and additional health and safety training for school-based staff. In addition, the government is providing funding for additional public health nurses to assist schools in local health protocols.

Some of the protocols are detailed in other questions on this page. More information will be shared with our community in the coming days.

Will students and staff be screened upon arrival at school?

All students and staff must self-screen every day before attending school. We will provide families and staff with a checklist to perform daily screening of their student before arriving at school. If a student or staff member is experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, they must stay home from school and should seek testing and appropriate medical attention. Staff and students feeling sick should remain at home while waiting for test results. If a symptomatic individual tests positive for COVID-19, they should continue to remain in isolation at home and follow the directions of their local public health unit. Public health nurses will assist schools with screening of potential cases of COVID-19.

Will temperatures be taken at school?

No. Public health officials have indicated that temperatures are not a reliable source for screening of COVID-19.

Will students and staff be tested?

No. Public health officials have indicated that tests are only accurate for one day. The use of active screening and contact tracing is more reliable.

What happens if a student feels sick? Will they be sent home? Will they have to isolate for 14 days?

All students and staff must self-screen every day before attending school using a checklist before arriving at school. If a student or staff member is experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, they must stay home from school and should seek testing and appropriate medical attention. If a student or staff member feels sick, or develops symptoms while at school, schools will follow the following protocol:

  • Students or staff who develop COVID-19 symptoms will immediately be separated from others, and the family will be contacted to arrange pick-up.
  • Staff and families will be directed to consult their health-care provider and should be provided with information about COVID-19 testing locations.
  • Staff and/or students who test positive may not return to school until they are cleared by KFL&A Public Health.
  • Staff and/or students who test negative can return to school once they are symptom-free for 24 hours.
  • Limestone schools will immediately report any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 to the KFL&A Public Health.
  • Limestone schools will participate in contact tracing through keeping records of classes, transported students, and visitors to schools.
Further information will be provided once the provincial school outbreak protocol is released. 

What is contact tracing?

Contact tracing is a way for schools and public health to keep track of positive or suspected cases of COVID-19. Schools will keep daily records of attendance of all persons within the school building. These will be made available to KFL&A Public Health to facilitate contact tracing in the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case or outbreak.

What if a student or staff member tests positive? Does the whole class have to be tested or self-isolate?

If a COVID-19 positive case is identified in a school, the KFL&A Public Health will provide further instructions on who else in the school may need testing and/or monitoring/isolation at that time. Staff/children who are being managed by public health (e.g. confirmed cases of COVID-19, household contacts of cases, etc.) must follow their instructions on when they can return to school. Further information will be provided once the provincial school outbreak protocol is released. 

Does my student have to wear a mask? What if they can’t wear a mask due to a condition?

All students in Grades 4 to 12 are required to wear non-medical or cloth masks while indoors at school (including classrooms and common areas such as hallways) and on the school bus unless there is a necessary exemption (medical conditions or special needs) that would prevent them from wearing a mask. 

The Board of Trustees expanded this mandate to Kindergarten to Grade 3 while indoors and on the school bus following a unanimous motion at a Special Meeting of the Board August 26, 2020. The provincial directive/guidance is clear that masking is not mandatory for Kindergarten to Grade 3 students,  and the medical evidence regarding the efficacy of masking for this age group of students is mixed. Staff will be patient and gentle in working with Kindergarten to Grade 3 students to wear and use masks properly unless there is a necessary exemption. There will not be any punitive measures taken against students struggling to comply. Face shields may also be explored as an alternative.

Families are expected to provide non-medical or cloth masks for their student(s). A supply of non-medical masks will be available at schools for those students who require one. For those students who choose to wear a cloth mask, families will be responsible to ensure that it is appropriately cleaned.

Staff are also required to wear masks while indoors unless there is a necessary exemption that would prevent them from wearing a mask. 

Public health nurses will be assisting students and staff on how to properly wear, take off, and store masks.

Learn more about face coverings in schools from KFL&A Public Health

Will masks be provided to students?

Families should provide their students with non-medical or cloth masks. Should students forget or damage their mask, schools will be equipped with non-medical masks to supply to students in need.

How will masking be handled in split grades where some are required to wear masks and others not (like Grade 3/4 class)?

In Grade 3/4 classes, all students will be expected to wear non-medical or cloth masks unless they have a necessary exemption.  

Learn more about face coverings in schools from KFL&A Public Health

Can students wear face shields?

Non-medical or cloth masks are mandatory for students in Grades 4 to 12 unless they have a necessary exemption. Masks are now also mandated for students in Kindergarten to Grade 3. Any student can also wear a face shield if families choose but it does not replace mandatory masks for Grades 4 to 12.

Learn more about face coverings in schools from KFL&A Public Health

How will children store their masks for lunch breaks and recess?

When not in use, masks should be stored in a labelled paper bag or reusable container that does not breed moisture.

Learn more about face coverings in schools from KFL&A Public Health

Can students use lanyards or chains to hold their masks so they don't lose them?

No. This is not good mask protocol. Masks should be stored in a paper bag or container that does not promote moisture. Also, lanyards pose a potential choking and safety hazard.

Learn more about face coverings in schools from KFL&A Public Health

Will there be adequate hand cleaning stations? How often will students clean their hands?

All classrooms will have a hand washing station or hand sanitizer available. Regular hand cleaning will be incorporated into students’ daily routines (upon entering school, before lunch and recess breaks, after using the washroom, returning from outside play/recess and after sneezing or coughing). Students will be taught proper handwashing hygiene.

How will you ensure adequate physical distancing?

The Ministry has indicated that standard physical distancing of two metres is not possible in most schools. Schools will provide two-metre spacing as much as possible and try to reduce face-to-face interaction. Because physical distancing is not possible in most schools, masks are mandatory for staff, and students in Grades 4 to 12, and encouraged for students in Kindergarten to Grade 3. Where possible, staff will be encouraged to take students outdoors or into larger spaces to further reduce risks.

How will schools and classrooms be cleaned?

Schools will implement a more frequent cleaning and disinfecting routine according to Ministry and KFL&A Public Health recommendations. Frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected at least twice a day throughout the school building. Schools will undergo extra cleaning and disinfection at the end of each school day. Soft surfaces that cannot be easily cleaned will be removed from classrooms (e.g. plush/absorbent items, upholstered furnishings).

How will washrooms be cleaned?

High-touch surfaces in washrooms will be cleaned throughout the day. The use of washrooms will be staggered where possible to support cohorting (grouping) of students. Signage will be posted to indicate the maximum number of people using washrooms at any given time. Depending on the size of the school and the location of washrooms, schools may assign students to specific washrooms. 

How will you support mental health and well-being for students and staff?

Ensuring the mental health and well-being of students and staff remains a priority for Limestone. We will continue to use a tiered approach for mental health supports that will capture all students and target intensive help to those who have been most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. We have several programs and initiatives in place to support students and staff and school based mental health supports will be available. School Mental Health Ontario will also provide school boards with a professional learning framework and toolkit to focus on building students' social-emotional learning skills so that they can build resilience, manage their stress and build positive relationships. Professional learning will be provided for system leaders, educators, support staff and mental health professionals to support the approach to school re-entry, as well as throughout the school year. The Ministry announcement did provide more funding for mental health supports for the 2020-2021 school year and we will share how this affects Limestone once funding amounts have been confirmed.

Additional supports in the area of mental health and well-being are being provided to students Over the summer months including:

  • Social Workers (SWs) are providing ongoing support to students from their 2019-2020 caseloads (elementary and secondary) in the form of one-to-one counselling support via telephone and/or secure virtual meetings. The continued connection to school-based regulated mental health clinicians will help facilitate a smooth transition back to school for students for whom a return to school would be challenging.
  •  Social Workers (SWs) and Clinical Consultants (CCs) will provide short-term mental health support to any students registered with the Limestone District School Board via a non-crisis telephone support line (and/or the use of a virtual platform).
  • SWs and CCs can also provide consultation services to families/caregivers regarding the mental health of their children.
  • SWs and CCs are available to consult, complete well-being check-ins, and/or assist students and/or parents/caregivers in navigating community resources from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday - Thursday until August 27, 2020. This is not an emergency crisis support service. The telephone number for the LDSB Mental Health Support Line is 613-417-3375.
  • Short videos will be available by August 24 on the LDSB website that are targeted at parents/caregivers of children with mental health needs designed to enhance parent capacity in supporting students with their mental health and well-being, as well as their return to school. Topics may include: anxiety, and transitions and re-establishing routines
  • Student Support Counsellors (SSCs) and Adolescent Care Workers (ACWs) will be available at the end of August to support school-based teams with the transition of students to school.

How will you support students with special education needs?

School staff are well equipped to deal with the unique needs of our students. Educational Services staff will continue to work with school staff to ensure that adapted or differentiated levels of instruction are available to those who need it, that additional PPE is available as required  and that a wide range of innovative special education supports and services remain accessible to meet the needs of our students. The Ministry has also announced more funding for special education supports and we will share how this affects Limestone once funding amounts have been confirmed. 

Over the summer months additional supports for students with special education needs are being provided to support a successful transition back to school including:

  • Student Support Counsellors (SSCs), Adolescent Care Workers (ACWs), and School Attendance Counsellors (SACs) will work with school-based teams to prioritize those students who are currently on their caseload and require support to transition back to school; schools will also establish transition meetings, or class/school visits as deemed appropriate that would normally take place in May or June but due to school closures, were unable to occur. 
  • Targeted work may involve:
    • Supporting students with meeting or reconnecting with school staff: teacher, EA, Administration if available
    • Supporting students with  becoming re-acquainted with the school building: classrooms, washrooms, entry and exit doors
    • Reviewing and practicing hygiene rules, social distancing, and safety practices with students and re establishing routines for school readiness
  • The Summer ABA Transition Program for students placed in District Autism Classrooms (August 24-28) will use the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) to teach skills to students and will also focus on establishing new routines which may be required as students re-enter buildings during the 2020-21 school year (i.e.,  transition skills, wearing masks, hand washing and physical distancing). 

 

Will Grade 7 hepatitis B, HPV9 and meningococcal vaccinations be provided at school-based clinics?

KFL&A Public Health is still working on immunization plans for the 2020-2021 school year, which may include potential alternative ways to deliver the Grade 7 immunization program.

My student missed the Grade 7 vaccinations due to school closures in the spring. Will public health be providing these vaccines at school-based clinics?

If your child completed Grade 7 in June and missed their hepatitis B, HPV9, or meningococcal vaccines due to school closures, you can schedule them for a KFL&A Public Health Grade 7 Catch-Up Immunization Clinic on Friday mornings in August and September by booking online.

School Day/Operations

What does a return to school look like in Limestone?

Elementary: The Ministry has directed that elementary school students in Kindergarten through Grade 8 will attend school in-person, five days per week, with one cohort (the same group of students) for the full day, including recess and lunch. Enhanced health and safety protocols will be in place and schools will provide the full range of elementary curriculum.

Secondary: The Ministry has provided two models for secondary schools, depending on whether a board is considered to have a high or low risk profile. Limestone has been identified as a lower risk profile board which means secondary school students in Grades 9 to 12 will attend school in-person, five days a week with an emphasis on cohorting (grouping) students and limiting student contacts as much as possible. This may mean a change to the current schedule and the number of periods attended by students each day.

Opting out of returning to school: The board is establishing an LDSB Virtual School to accommodate students who have decided to opt for remote learning for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. The LDSB Virtual School (for Kindergarten to Grade 12) will use the same content and expectations set out in the Ontario Curriculum as regular in person learning.

Do students have to return to school?

No. Parents/guardians will have the option to opt students out of returning to in-person school, and have them learn remotely from home via the LDSB Virtual School. The current plan has been deemed safe by provincial and local public health officials who underscore the need for students to return to school for their overall well-being.

On August 13, 2020, Dr. Kieran Moore, Medical Officer of Health for KFL&A Public Health, and Dr. Alexa Caturay, Acting Medical Officer of Health for Hastings Prince Edward Public Health, released Statement of Support from Local Medical Officers of Health Regarding the Return to School indicating they "completely support the local school boards in the reopening of our local schools as students and staff return to the classroom in September.” 

How will the school day be affected by health and safety protocols?

Adjustments to school routines/movement: Limestone is developing strategies that will support general physical distancing throughout the school day. Students, for example, will notice visual cues, such as directional arrows through corridors and stairwells and signs on walls, to guide appropriate distances in lines and at other times.  Classrooms will be organized in such a way to reduce face-to-face interaction between students.

Drop off/pick up: Student entry into the school may be staggered according to their classroom to provide physical distancing and less congestion in hallways and corridors. School parking lots and drop off areas will be closed off with pylons to all non-bus traffic during the arrival and departure of buses. It is strongly recommended that any non-bused students walk to/from school. If there is a need to drive students, vehicles should be parked off site in a safe location and the student should be walked to school. Students will be dropped off and picked up outside of the school to limit visitors into the school building. 

Use of outdoor spaces: Weather permitting, some activities (classes, lunch breaks) may be held outside.

Large gatherings/assemblies: These will be postponed for the immediate future.

Lunch Breaks: Elementary students will eat in their classroom and staff/students will need to bring their own lunch/snacks from home. Secondary school cafeterias will not be operational during first semester. Secondary students can eat within their classrooms as a class cohort or other designated areas where they can physically distance. Secondary students will also be encouraged to eat outdoors where possible. 

Water fountains: Water fountains will be closed but water refilling stations will be available.

Will visitors be permitted inside the school?

Non-essential visitors to the school will be limited including families. Visits to ensure school safety (by health and safety authorities) will continue under current health and safety protocols. All visitors will be will be required to self-screen, wear a non-medical or cloth mask while indoors, and present themselves to the school office where they must sign in and out (for contract tracing purposes) and wait for further direction. In the exceptional case where families must enter the school (in an emergency and as approved by the school administrator), they will be required to follow the same protocols above: self-screen, wear a non-medical or cloth mask while indoors, and present themselves to the school office where they must sign in and out (for contact tracing) and wait for further direction. Families will not be permitted to attend classrooms or other common areas of the school. At entry and dismissal times, families are to remain outside the school in designated and identified areas and adhere to physical distancing protocols.

What if I need to drop something off to my child, or pick them up for an appointment?

Non-essential visitors to the school will be limited including families. Visits to the school during the school day will be by appointment only, arranged in advance through the school office. Family members may be asked to wait outside until a staff member can attend to them. In the case where families or community partners must enter the school (as approved by the school principal), they will be required to self-screen, wear a non-medical or cloth mask while indoors, and present themselves to the school office where they must sign in and wait for further direction. Unscheduled visitors and family members may not be permitted to enter the school.

What will lunch breaks look like?

Schools will develop site-specific plans, which may vary due to school size, location, and physical space. Class dismissal times may need to be staggered to ensure hallways are not congested. 

Elementary: Students will eat lunch in their classrooms with their cohort (group). Intermediate students who have parent/guardian permission to leave the school property at lunch are encouraged to remain at school and in their cohort.

Secondary: School cafeterias will not be operational during first semester. Secondary students can eat within their classrooms as a class cohort or other designated areas where they can physically distance. Students will also be encouraged to eat outdoors where possible.

How will lunch supervisors or staff doing lunch supervision be protected as students will not be wearing masks during this time?

Lunch supervisors will be encouraged to maintain physical distancing and wear appropriate PPE (masks are mandatory) including face shield, gown and gloves if desired.

How will student supplies and shared learning materials be cleaned?

Staff are to limit the sharing of supplies, equipment, textbooks and toys. Adequate supplies for instructional courses will be provided to each student. Where it is not practical to give each student their own resources, classroom resources that are used regularly will be cleaned daily and students will clean their hands before and after use. Staff will review specific safety precautions required for classes that traditionally involve the sharing of resources between students (e.g. construction, auto shops, hospitality, science, arts, physical education etc.). Plans will be established for specialized protective equipment that cannot be cleaned between use (e.g. welding gloves, chaps, coat, coveralls, aprons, oven mitts, lab coats).

Will families need to purchase extra school supplies for the new school year?

No. Families will not need to buy extra school supplies when students return to school. Classroom resources that will be used regularly by students and educators will be cleaned daily and students will clean their hands before and after use. 

Will students be able to use textbooks?

Schools can provide textbooks to students on an individual basis, and students would be expected to keep their textbooks with them as opposed to leaving them in classrooms or lockers.

Will students be able to use lockers and cubbies?

At this time, student lockers and cubbies will not be available. Students are to keep their belongings with them at their desk and are encouraged to only bring the materials they will need for learning. If lockers are made available, access will be restricted to particular times of the day.This will be revisited as the weather changes.

Since lockers will not be used at this time, how will student belongings be secured during gym class?

Students should minimize the amount of personal items brought to school. School and class specific plans will be developed to support the safety of student belongings.

Will outdoor education at Gould Lake resume?

Initially field trips will not be permitted. With clearance from public health, it may be possible for schools to arrange class cohort (group) visits to Gould Lake. In other cases, outdoor education programming can be brought to students at their school.

Will field trips be allowed?

The Ministry had indicated that schools should not plan field trips and activities requiring group transportation at this time, until public health data suggests otherwise.

Will playgrounds be open?

Currently, all outdoor play structures on Limestone District School Board school grounds remain closed as is our practice during the summer months while schools are closed. These items are not cleaned or sanitized, and families use them at their own risk.

Once schools reopen, elementary schools will develop school/site specific plans for cohorts (groups) and yard space depending on school population and yard size. Equipment will not be cleaned. Students will be required to clean their hands before and after outdoor play. Recess and lunch breaks may need to be staggered to avoid congestion and allow yard play.

Will there be clubs and extra-curricular activities?

In the initial stages of school reopening, extra-curricular clubs and sports will not be permitted. Interschool sports in both the elementary and secondary panes will not be operated for the fall season. A decision on the winter season will be made at a later date. School clubs that can maintain physical distancing, or run virtually may proceed after the first few weeks of school as approved by each school administrator. If physical distancing or virtual meetings are not possible, clubs will not be permitted at this time. The board will share more information as it becomes available. 

Will bike racks be available for use?

Yes. Students should clean their hands after use.

Will child-care centres be open?

All Child-Care Centres and Before/After School Programs housed within our schools are operated by third party operators. Students attending these programs would be included as part of two separate cohorts, or groups (Child-Care/Before/After School and classroom). Student attendance lists and information will be maintained and available to public health for contact tracing purposes in accordance with all applicable legislation, including the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act . Please submit any inquiries about child care directly to the operator. Please check with your child-care provider for more information about their re-opening details.

Will Community Use of Schools (rentals) resume?

No. Currently, our priority is providing a safe environment for our students and staff. For that reason, we will not be issuing any permits for community use of schools in buildings so that we can focus on enhanced cleaning schools daily.

Will there be class photos?

Not at this time.  We are looking at contingency plans around this and more info to come. 

Will school nutrition programs (Food Sharing Project) still be offered at my school?

Student nutrition programs will continue to be provided with “grab and go” breakfasts and lunches at school. School ordered hot lunch and milk programs will not be offered at this time.

Will there be changes to school ventilation as outlined in the Sick Kids Report?

Mechanical heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems have been checked during the summer months to ensure they are operating as designed and the board will increase the frequency of filter changes. In addition, the intake settings will be adjusted, where possible, to increase the amount of fresh air and reduce recirculation. Where possible, windows will be opened to increase natural ventilation. The Ministry of Education recently announced additional funding for ventilation improvements for schools. The board is awaiting more details on how much this will be for Limestone schools.
Learning Models

What does the elementary learning model look like?

In each of our learning models, learners will receive grade-level content from the Ontario Curriculum. Quality instruction will require teachers to 1) understand student readiness and 2) to design learning tasks to best meet the individualized needs of their students.

Elementary school students in Kindergarten through Grade 8 will have 300 minutes of instruction per day, five days a week while remaining in one cohort (group) of students for the full day, including recess and lunch. Enhanced health and safety protocols will be in place.

Cohorted classes will stay together with one teacher in their classroom where possible. Rotary and specialized staff will travel to students’ classrooms to provide programming for students.

Staggered timing of recesses, lunches, and washroom breaks to support cohorting should be expected.

Read more about subject-specific delivery guidelines in our Family Reference Guide.

What does the secondary learning model look like?

School boards are to adopt secondary timetabling methods that emphasize cohorting (grouping) of students as much as possible, to limit the number of student-to-student contacts. To reduce risk of transmission and to support contact tracing, school boards are to develop timetables that:

  • Limit indirect and direct student contacts to approximately 100 students in the school.
  • Are encouraged to keep secondary school students in a maximum of two in-person class cohorts.
  • Efforts to cohort secondary school students may impact the traditional four course delivery model in a semestered school and as a result, boards may need to adjust the school day for students.

In Limestone, the secondary learning model was revised on August 26, 2020. Secondary schools will move to a “blocked timetable” with one class occurring at a time. This model will further reduce the number of direct and indirect student contacts and enhance existing safety protocols at the secondary level. The blocked timetable will see students complete one class (period) at a time. Each block will include 300 instructional minutes per day for 23 days (22 instructional days plus one day for culminating activities/exams). Students will still attempt four credits between September and January as they would under a normal semester system in the order: period 1, 2, 3 and 4. Breaks and lunches will be staggered throughout the day, based on school timetables.  

Granite Ridge Education Centre and North Addington Education Centre will not follow this new model. Due to their smaller student populations, they will cohort all classes by grade level and follow the traditional semester model of four courses per semester.



What will the blocked timetable look like?

The blocked timetable will see students complete one class (period) at a time. Each block will include 300 instructional minutes per day for 23 days (22 instructional days plus one day for culminating activities/exams). This is similar to how we operate summer session.

Students will remain in one classroom at the same desk for the period of time, without travelling to another classroom (similar to elementary model). This allows for less direct and indirect student contact over the course of the day.

School hours will remain the same. Two breaks and lunches will be staggered throughout the day, based on school timetables. Schools will communicate this directly.

Students will still attempt four credits between September and January as they would under a normal semester system in the order: period 1, 2, 3 and 4.

What does lunch break look like under the secondary blocked timetable model?

School cafeterias will not be operational during first semester. Secondary students can eat within their classrooms as a class cohort or other designated areas where they can physically distance. Students will also be encouraged to eat outdoors where possible.

Will remote learners also follow the blocked timetable?

Yes. All secondary students, with the exception of students at GREC and NAEC, will follow the blocked timetable whether they are learning in-person at school or remotely via the LDSB Virtual School. This is the only way to allow students to opt in or out if space and availability exists. The only exception is for students who take courses through the OELC e-learning consortium which has courses running on various timetables.

How will students catch up if they miss a day of blocked timetable learning?

Teachers always work with students to make up lost time whether that is due to illness or other circumstances that see them absent for school for an extended period of time.  Schools also have student success teams that work with teachers and students to ensure students are supported. In extreme cases, there are options such as credit rescue and credit recovery where a student works with success teachers to earn their credit.

Will health and physical education (gym class) be permitted?

Classes will be conducted outside, weather permitting. Gyms should only be used where physical distancing measures can be followed. All activities should support physical distancing while limiting use of shared equipment. Shared equipment should be cleaned regularly, and students should practise proper hand hygiene before and after participating in physical activity and equipment use.

Will arts and music classes be permitted?

Read more about subject-specific delivery guidelines in our Family Reference Guide.

What about expanded opportunities programs such as co-operative education, specialist high schools major, apprenticeships, dual credits and technological education programs? Will these be offered?

Co-operative Education:  In-person community placements can be arranged, and co-op placements can also be offered virtually, where feasible. Students will be provided with PPE for co-op placements as needed, and pre-placement must include a safety component related to COVID-19 precautions.

Technology/Foods Classes: Technology shops should only be used where physical distancing measures can be followed. Activities should support physical distancing while limiting use of shared equipment . Shared equipment should be cleaned regularly, and students should practice proper hand hygiene before and after participating in equipment use. Students should have individual safety equipment where possible, and if shared, must be cleaned between use.

Can a student do in-person school and take a course through e-learning (not remote learning)?

Students can choose to take a supplementary e-learning course arranged through their school guidance department the way it would be traditionally arranged. In this case, you would not "opt out" of in-person school.

What if my student begins in-person learning but becomes ill, or is required to self-isolate? Will they then be provided with remote learning?

We would treat this the same as any other absence due to illness. The teacher(s) would work with the student/family to determine a plan for the makeup of work.

If children are registered for French Immersion and decide to opt for remote learning, can they do so in English?

If you wish to opt out for remote learning in English, you will need to register with your home school.

How will you address learning gaps that have been worsened by the pandemic and extended school closures?

We know that the pandemic has affected our students in different ways. Once we have students and staff back in schools, teachers and support staff will work together to assess the ongoing needs of all students. This is always a priority. At the elementary level, educators will spend time doing diagnostic assessments in literacy and math to seek a clear understanding of students’ current strengths and needs. Programming will be tailored to meet the achievement levels of each individual student.  At the secondary level, educators will plan instruction to close achievement gaps, and will tailor their instruction to meet the needs of the student. 

How do I talk to my student’s teacher?

Wherever possible, families will communicate with their student’s teacher or school via telephone, email or virtual meeting.

What is the status of international students?

At this point, if international students are permitted to enter Canada, they will be subject to 14 days of quarantine. Federal regulations govern entry of international students into Canada. 

What is the status of alternative education centres and continuing education?

Alternative education centres and adult and continuing education will operate in-person under the current health and safety protocols.
Remote Learning

What will remote learning look like?

Limestone will offer remote learning – both live (synchronous) and scheduled (asynchronous) learning – for students whose families choose to opt their student(s) out of returning to school in person for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.

Remote learning refers to learning that occurs when classes are taught at a distance and when students and educators are not in a conventional classroom setting. Remote learning takes place in times of extended interruption to in-person learning – for example, as a result of a pandemic or natural disaster. Classes can be live (synchronous) or scheduled (asynchronous) and can be taught online through a school board's learning management system. In Limestone, this is Minds Online (D2L Brightspace) or Google Classroom. In some cases, teaching may be delivered through emails, print materials, broadcast media, or telephone calls.

During remote learning, students and families will be provided with a daily schedule or timetable that includes 300 minutes of learning opportunities, with a combination of live (synchronous) and scheduled (asynchronous) learning activities.

Programming will be based on the full Ontario curriculum and include opportunities for guided instruction, large- and small-group learning, live (synchronous) check-ins, and scheduled (asynchronous) independent work. Teachers will be available to students at all times during the teachers' assigned teaching timetables, as they would be if they were face-to-face in a classroom setting.

Live (synchronous) learning sessions will be communicated to families and students. Educators should use their professional judgement to provide some flexibility to students on an individual basis when students are unable to participate in (live) synchronous learning.

What is the difference between live (synchronous) and scheduled (asynchronous) learning?

Live (synchronous) learning: Learning that happens in real time. Synchronous learning involves using text, video, or voice communication in a way that enables educators and other members of the school- or board-based team to instruct and connect with students in real time. Synchronous learning supports the well-being and academic achievement of all students, including students with special education needs, by providing educators and students with an interactive and engaging way to learn. It helps teachers provide immediate feedback to students and enables students to interact with one another.

Scheduled (asynchronous learning): Learning that is not delivered in real time. Asynchronous learning may involve students watching pre-recorded video lessons, completing assigned tasks, or contributing to online discussion boards.

How much time will elementary students spend on live (synchronous) learning?

The minimum amount of time per day that elementary students, depending on their grade level, must be provided with live (synchronous) learning as part of their scheduled or timetabled learning is below:

  • Kindergarten: 180 minutes
  • Grades 1 to 3: 225 minutes
  • Grades 4 to 8: 225 minutes

How much time will secondary students spend on live (synchronous) learning?

In secondary school, the minimum amount of time per day that secondary students must be provided with live (synchronous) learning as part of their scheduled or timetabled learning is the higher of 60 minutes for each 75-minute class period  or 225 minutes per day for a full course schedule.

Will students engaged in remote learning participate with students and teachers from their home school?

Students engaged in remote learning may not be able to participate with students and teachers from their home school. We may be required to create virtual classrooms where students from across the district in similar grades are attached to a teacher who will deliver online instruction. At the secondary level, students may be taking courses from a teacher from another school board, and classes may include students from other areas of the board or province. 

Why do I have to make a choice about remote learning now?

An important piece of our return to school planning includes knowing which students will not return to in-person school in favour of remote learning.

When making your decision, it is important to note that families who choose remote learning may not be able to easily move back to in-person learning, and vice versa. We will do our best to accommodate requests, but school staffing is funded and completed based on student numbers so choosing to move from one mode of learning to another is complicated. Moves may be dependent on space availability and other factors.

Deadlines to make a change:

  • Elementary students wishing to move from remote learning to in-class learning or vice veresa will need to notify their home school by September 14, 2020 to begin in-class instruction September 21, 2020.
  • UPDATED Aug. 26, 2020 - Secondary students wishing to move from remote learning to in-class learning or vice versa should notify their home school anytime in the preceding  block for the next block.

While efforts will be made to accommodate requests for a change, families should expect that they might need to be wait-listed if they change their minds due to capacity challenges at their home school, or the LDSB Virtual School.

Can students switch back and forth between in-person and remote learning?

Families who choose remote learning may not be able to easily move back to in-person learning, and vice versa. We will do our best to accommodate requests, but school staffing is funded and completed based on student numbers so choosing to move from one mode of learning to another is complicated. Moves may be dependent on space availability and other factors.


Deadlines to make a change:

  • Elementary students wishing to move from remote learning to in-class learning or vice versa will need to notify their home school by September 14, 2020 to begin in-class instruction September 21, 2020.
  • UPDATED Aug. 26, 2020 - Secondary students wishing to move from remote learning to in-class learning or vice versa should notify their home school anytime in the preceding  block for the next block.

While efforts will be made to accommodate requests for a change, families should expect that they might need to be wait-listed if they change their minds due to capacity challenges at their current school.

Will technology be provided to my student?

Technology will be provided for students who are learning remotely and require it.

Will Internet access be provided to my student?

Internet access will be provided to students who are learning remotely and do not currently have access (where service is available).

Transportation

Will students still be bused to school?

The Ministry document provides guidance for busing. Our bus provider, Tri-Board Student Transportation, will be working with local public health officials to optimize the health and safety of student riders and bus drivers. Tri-Board will work with KFL&A Public Health to ensure increased disinfecting protocols for frequently touched surfaces (e.g., handrails, seatbacks) to at least twice daily. Riders in Grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear non-medical or cloth masks as in school. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be encouraged to wear masks on student transportation. Exceptions will be made for students with medical conditions or special needs that prevent masking. Bus drivers and other adults riding the bus will also be required to wear masks. Students will be assigned seats and a record of the seating plan will be kept to assist with contact tracing in the case of a student or driver contracting COVID-19. Students who live in the same household or are in the same classroom cohort (group) should be seated together. Families always have the choice of utilizing school bus transportation and active forms of travel (e.g., walking and cycling) and private transportation by parents and caregivers, is encouraged where possible, to ease pressure on transportation demand.

How will buses be cleaned?

Tri-Board Student Transportation Services will work with KFL&A Public Health to ensure increased disinfecting protocols for frequently touched surfaces (e.g., handrails, seatbacks) to at least twice daily.

Busing does not allow for the maintenance of cohorts (groups) of students. Why is that being allowed?

Public health officials have indicated that with proper cleaning protocols and the use of universal masking (with noted exceptions) that operating buses at regular capacity is safe. Buses will use assigned seating (and siblings will be seated together where possible) to assist with contact tracing. It should be noted that municipal, public transportation is allowed to currently operate at full capacity with masking.

How will seating be handled on buses?

Tri-Board Student Transportation will be assigning seating plans to buses to assist with contact tracing. To assist with this process, if your student has opted for remote learning or they will not be taking the school bus, please alert Tri-Board by filling out its Opt Out of Transportation form.

Can students go on friends' buses?

No. Students will not be permitted on buses other than their own due to assigned seating and contact tracing protocols.

Will buses be cancelled if a driver tests positive for COVID-19, or has to isolate due to COVID-19 symptoms?

Tri-Board Student Transportation has indicated there will likely be more bus delays and cancellations this year due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Families should have a backup plan to transport their student(s) to school, and to arrange child care where required, if their bus is cancelled for any reason and they cannot transport their student to school. Families should ensure they are signed up to receive direct notifications, either by email, or Tri-Board’s app. Delays and cancellations are also posted to Tri-Board’s Twitter account.

How does my student get to school if their bus is cancelled due to a driver shortage?

Transportation to and from school is not guaranteed. Families should have a backup plan to transport their student(s) to school, and to arrange child care where required, if their bus is cancelled for any reason and they cannot transport their student to school. Within the City of Kingston, secondary students have access to free Kingston Transit bus passes. If your student doesn’t have a pass but would like one, please visit the City of Kingston website. All children under the age of 14 may also ride Kingston Transit for free. No pass is required. Please note, all passengers on Kingston Transit are required to wear a face covering/mask.

If buses are running the morning, will they still run in the afternoon?

Not necessarily. It is possible that a bus would not be available for the afternoon runs if a driver must be pulled out of service due to COVID-19 screening. Families should have a backup plan to pick up their student(s) from school if their bus is cancelled for the afternoon run.

How do students make up the day/continue to learn if they are unable to find an alternate route to school if their bus is cancelled?

Teachers and schools will work with affected students and families to ensure students are kept engaged in learning if they are unable to attend in-person school due to bus cancelations. Families should contact their teacher directly to determine a plan for the makeup of work.

How will students get Kingston Transit bus passes?

Traditionally, in order to assist our Grade 9 students in getting their first bus pass, we work closely with Kingston Transit to come to our schools, take student photos and issue the bus passes on the spot. This year,  photos will not be needed to minimize student contacts as per current COVID-19 protocols. We will require parent/guardian permission. Permission forms will be distributed via schools. Passes will then be made available at school offices. Students in Grades 10 to 12 will have their current pass automatically renewed. 

The Limestone District School Board is situated on traditional territories of the Anishinaabe & Haudenosaunee.