Important information for safe school start

Limestone Learning Foundation
Important information for safe school start
Posted on 09/02/2020
Image of school reopening update graphic

Dear Families,

Students will begin to return to learning in the Limestone District School Board beginning tomorrow, September 3, 2020. We know the start of this school year is going to look very different for students and families, and we appreciate your ongoing patience as we work through these new routines and safety protocols.

We have some important updates to share to help you prepare students for the new school year. Please note schools will also share site-specific updates with you over the coming days and weeks as we all adjust and adapt to our new normal.

COVID-19 Daily Active Screening

All families will be required to screen their student(s) for COVID-19 symptoms before each school day. KFL&A Public Health has provided a simple one-page daily screening tool that families can access on the Board website. Feel free to print and keep a copy in a handy place at home as a reference. Translated versions of this document will be available soon. It is critical that students do not come to school or go on a school bus if they have any of the COVID-19 symptoms. According to provincial public health direction, if students have any symptoms, they must visit an assessment centre, or call their health care provider immediately to determine if a COVID-19 test is required.

COVID-19 Family Responsibilities

Ensuring our schools can remain open will take all of us doing our part. This means that all students, staff, bus drivers, bus monitors and visitors must perform the daily self-assessment of COVID-19 symptoms. KFL&A Public Health has created an information sheet for families to help you understand your important role in keeping students, staff and our broader school communities safe. This information sheet includes the following information:

  • How to screen students before each school day
  • What happens if students develop COVID-19 symptoms at school
  • What happens if a student requires testing for COVID-19
  • Information for students with ongoing medical conditions
  • How to prevent and control COVID-19

Face coverings in schools

There has been some confusion around masking for students given a recent motion by the Board of Trustees. 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. 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 more information on which face coverings are appropriate in schools, and how to care for and store face coverings, please see this handy guide from KFL&A Public Health. Trustees voted to have all students in Limestone, including Kindergarten to Grade 3, wear masks in schools and on buses, however, we recognize that the provincial directive/guidance is clear that masking is not mandatory for this age group. 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, but there will not be any disciplinary measures taken against students struggling to comply, nor enforcement of masking. Masking is strongly encouraged to maximize safety, but there is also recognition that Limestone’s youngest learners may face challenges with masking and this issue cannot be an obstacle to a positive start to the school year and focusing on learning and fun in classrooms.

Absence reporting of COVID-19-related absences

Limestone will track student and staff attendance related to COVID-19 to assist with contact tracing in the event of an outbreak. Families will continue to report their student’s absences through our SafeArrival absence reporting tool. Families will report any absence using the SchoolMessenger app, website portal or by telephone at 1-855-257-9349. When asked for the reason for the absence, please select the first option: COVID-related (e.g. illness, quarantine, self-isolation). Select illness/injury for all other illnesses that are not related to COVID-19. If your child is part of the LDSB Virtual School, you will use the same process for reporting any absences.

I know this is a lot of information and we wish we could have shared it with you sooner. We are working as quickly as we can to absorb a lot of new guidelines and directives, and adapt them to each school site as required. There are bound to be some bumps along the way as we navigate our new environment together, so we must all remember patience and understanding as students and staff come back together for the first time in six months. Everyone is doing their very best under challenging and new circumstances. We are committed to doing our part to help keep students safe, and keep their physical and mental health and well-being at the forefront. I would ask that you work with us to ensure students and families are doing your part to support a safe school reopening by following all public health and school/board directives to stop the spread of COVID-19. A healthy community means healthy schools.

As always, please reach out to your school(s) directly for specific questions related to your student.

Have a great start up and welcome back!

Krishna Burra
Director of Education

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