Director's Update: Return to In-Class Learning

Director's Update: Return to In-Class Learning
Posted on 02/07/2021

February 7, 2021

Dear Families,

As was previously communicated, in-class learning will resume for all schools in the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board (SMCDSB) beginning on Monday, February 8th. Transportation and child care facilities (including Before and After School programs) will return to pre-Christmas operation. Emergency child care provisions will be discontinued. 

We are happy to return to face-to-face learning. For many of our staff and students the teaching, learning, routine and social interaction in a school environment will be welcome after so many weeks of trying to manage multiple responsibilities at home. 

We know and understand that there will be added worry related to case counts and the emergence of new variants of the virus. We want to assure you that the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has carefully assessed the situation in our region and they feel confident in our return to school at this time. I encourage you to review this SMDHU letter from Dr. Charles Gardner  (PDF link) - he has provided important information about health and safety measures and why public health authorities are recommending a return to school tomorrow. 

From September to December we proved that the health and safety protocols in place at our schools are working extremely well. In the attached letter, Dr. Gardner says, “schools have been proven to be a place in which safety protocols and public health measures have prevented or reduced the spread of COVID-19.” The health and safety measures are working only because of the care, hard work and diligence of our staff, students and families. Now more than ever we continue to ask for your help to stop the spread of the virus and keep our schools safe and open. We ask that you follow the health and safety measures below:

  • Complete the Daily COVID-19 Self Screening Assessment (pdf link) every morning before attending school. At the secondary level, a confirmation that this assessment has been completed is now mandated by the Ministry of Education. We are working on an automated process, which we will rollout next week. Please continue to complete the pdf version until we launch the new process (further communication will be forthcoming).
  • Keep students home from school if they are sick 
  • Please send your child with a couple of comfortable and well-fitting cloth masks - a supply of masks will also be available at the school.
  • Encourage your child to practice good hand hygiene. If you choose to send your child with hand sanitizer, please ensure it is scent-free.
  • Maintain physical distancing of at least 2 metres as much as possible
  • Do not congregate on or around school property. Please ensure all students arrive at school on-time and return home promptly at the end of the school day, in particular for students who do not need to access transportation. 

In addition to these measures, our Board has already invested in a number of air quality and ventilation improvements such as upgrading filters at all schools/sites to the standards which are globally recommended during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently announced new funding will be used for additional testing and repairs to HVAC systems to ensure optimal ventilation. We will also continue with the enhanced cleaning measures which were in place prior to Christmas. 

We whole-heartedly thank you for your ongoing support and vigilance during this time - we would not be in the position of being able to reopen our schools if it was not for your willingness to follow the protocols set out by public health officials. We know we are asking our families to make sacrifices and sometimes do things that are difficult for their children, but we are on a collective journey and we can only overcome the obstacles ahead when we work together as a community of hope, faith and compassion.  

I wish everyone a safe and healthy school reopening tomorrow and may God bless you and your family.

Yours in Faith,

Frances Bagley
Director of Education