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​Frequently Asked Questions


L
ast updated: September 23, 2020 
 

The following questions and answers will continue to be updated as new information and guidance become available or circumstances in our school community change. We appreciate your understanding and patience as we work as quickly as we can to provide you with the latest information. Please continue to visit this page for updates.

 

Have questions about 2020 - 2021 school year? Find answers to questions about the following topics:

 

 

School Reopening

Section last updated: September 23, 2020

 
How is additional classroom space being accommodated at crowded schools?

The Board is initiating a pilot program to rent classroom size (20 ft. x 40 ft.) commercial tent structures for schools that have been identified as having space issues, to provide sheltered outdoor space for activities such as gym, music and reading circles. The structures require building permits, which are being coordinated centrally by Planning and Facilities staff.

 

Why am I not receiving email updates? 

Parents are encouraged to ensure that their home school has their most up to date phone and email contact information on file. Please log on to School Messenger​ to verify your contact information in the system is correct. If you require assistance updating your contact information, please email your school for assistance. 

 

Is there an update on the Uniform policy? 

At the September 10, 2020 Board Meeting, the Trustees rescinded a motion regarding uniform requirements. Please refer to the Dress Code for Pupils Policy​ or contact your local school for details.

 

How will my child's mental health be supported? 

All school staff will play a role in supporting students’ mental health and well-being as they return to school and identifying those with additional needs. Schools will also be supported by Special Services staff, including Psychologists, Social Workers, Mental Health Professional Workers, Guidance Teachers and Child and Youth Workers. If you have concerns about your child’s mental health and transition back to school, please alert your child’s school so they can work with you to determine appropriate supports. 

 

Are there changes to pick-up/drop-off locations?

Schools will determine local protocols including identifying entry/exit doors and student bus and parent travel procedures at the school building. Pick up and drop off locations on incoming and outgoing bus routes will remain mostly in tact; however, bus routes may change based on need and driver availability. 

 

Are school cafeterias available?

Until further notice, school cafeterias will be closed and food services will not be provided. Students in elementary schools will be required to eat lunch in their classroom to ensure they remain in their cohorts. Larger spaces in schools may be used to achieve necessary distancing as needed.

 

Can my child come home for lunch?

Elementary students may only leave the school building for lunch with a parent/guardian, following established visitor protocols. 

 

Are Student Nutrition Programs taking place?

Staff are looking into the options to support and continue student nutrition programs. Discussions around the use of pre-packaged and served using a “grab-and-go” approach are being explored. There are ongoing discussions on what the final delivery approach will look like and additional support that can be provided to students.

 

Will graduates receive diplomas?
All schools will receive diplomas / certificates for their graduating class, as well as an equal number of scrolls, signed by the Premier and Minister of Education, to recognize the unique nature of this year’s graduation. Schools should be receiving diplomas by mid-October so they can begin the distribution to graduates.
 

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St. Anne Catholic Academy, School of Virtual Learning

Section last updated: September 21, 2020

 
What is the virtual school called?
The TCDSB virtual school is now called St. Anne Catholic Academy, School of Virtual Learning.
 
Where can I find more information about the St. Anne Catholic Academy, School of Virtual Learning?
School board staff are coordinating their efforts with all schools to ensure that every student who opted for online learning through the virtual school is registered. Virtual school students retain their spot at their in-person school. They will not lose that affiliation and will graduate with their school, not the virtual school. 
 
Information related to the St. Anne Catholic Academy, School of Virtual Learning is available for K-8 students and Grade 9-12 students​. 
 
 
Are specialty programs available in the virtual school?
Some specialty programs like French Immersion, Extended French or International Baccalaureate may not be offered in the virtual school. The offering of these specialty courses will be dependent upon the number of qualified teachers for the program.
 

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Health and Safety

Section last updated: September 21​​​, 2020

 
Are students required to wear masks?
Yes. Students in all grades are required to wear non-medical or cloth masks/face coverings (with appropriate medical exemptions) indoors on school property, including in hallways and in classrooms. If the student can’t wear a mask, they must wear a face shield. If the student can't wear a face mask or a shield for medical reasons, a prevalent medical conditions form must be completed with medical practitioner documentation. 
 
Outdoor times like recess can be used as opportunities to provide students with breaks from wearing masks. As Toronto Public Health has shared, learning to wear a mask is like any behavior change. It will take time but children can learn to adjust. Just as they learned to get dressed and tie their shoes, with time and with practice, they may get better at wearing masks. 
 
Will TCDSB be given a guideline for room temperature for a child to be safe to wear a mask?
During hot weather days, schools that do not have air conditioning have been encouraged by Toronto Public Health to consider alternatives such as holding classes outdoors, where possible, in the shade where physical distancing will be easier and masks are not required. 
 
Do face shields replace masks?
Toronto Public Health advises that a face shield is not an alternative to a mask. A face shield can protect your eyes from someone else's germs, but does not always keep your germs from spreading to others. A face shield can be used by someone who cannot wear a mask, such as for medical reasons. It may offer some protection but is not equivalent to a mask. 
 
Are teachers required to wear masks?
All staff members will be provided with and required to wear personal protective equipment such as medical masks and face shields to safely interact with students and staff.
 
Are school windows being kept open to maximize natural ventilation?
Opening school windows, and doors, to the extent that’s possible are encouraged in schools and classrooms. In some cases school windows have limiters (a health and safety requirement), which limits window openings to 4 inches and is sufficient to provide natural ventilation to the classrooms. Modifications will be made to vertical sliding windows as needed to increase the opening from 4 inches to 12 inches. If possible, this modification will be made to the window directly opposite the classroom door to further facilitate air circulation. Staff have been working to service window stops at all school facilities, and at this point in time TCDSB school windows are safely operable where possible, though in some cases windows are sealed to accommodate Air Conditioning. 
 
What other health and safety measures can be expected to keep staff and students safe?
  • Portable hand-washing stations will be installed on floors with classrooms that do not have washrooms. 
  • A number of touch-less sanitizers are being evaluated for school use and in areas where a portable wash unit cannot be placed. 
  • HEPA purifiers will be distributed with the priority on the highest transmission areas as identified by Toronto Public Health. The Board will also consider room purifiers in rooms where there are no windows, or insufficient mechanical systems. 
  • Plexiglass shielding for the office and administrative areas has been ordered. A Plexiglass specification for student desks has been confirmed and will be made available for classes in excess of 15 students in the weeks ahead.
 
How are students and staff being screened for COVID-19 symptoms?
Before coming to school, all staff and students (or their parents) are expected to conduct a self-assessment for COVID-19 symptoms. Once they arrive at school, a second screening will be conducted by school staff to ensure no one exhibiting any symptoms comes into the school.
 
What do school screening stations look like?
Each school has a designated entrance for staff, students and visitors with a screening station that has:
 
  • Signage requiring all people entering to conduct a COVID self-assessment. 
  • Signage and visual cues to remind people to practice physical distancing while in the school.
  • Exterior markings to reinforce physical distancing when entering the school.
  • Alcohol-based sanitizer to disinfect hands prior to further entry into the building.
  • A log book or alternative method of recording any visitors/itinerant staff for the purpose of contact tracing.
  • A process for recording staff attendance for the purpose of contact tracing. 
 
What happens if a student is ill and showing symptoms?
If a student develops COVID-19 symptoms while in school, they will immediately be separated from others in an isolation room until picked up. Parents will be advised to take the child to an assessment centre as soon as possible. 
 
If it is determined that the child has COVID-19, the child and the family should remain in isolation for the prescribed period of 14 days, or as directed by your healthcare professional. School principals will follow the TCDSB School Reporting Protocol and Toronto Public Health (TPH) will then work directly with the school and the Board to complete contact tracing and any communication to the school community, if required. 
 
If the child tests negative for COVID-19, there is no need for the family to be in isolation, and communication to the school community is not recommended; however, the child should remain home until they are fully recovered. 
 
For more information about COVID, please visit the TPH website​
 
What happens when a staff member is diagnosed with COVID?
The Toronto Catholic District School Board continues to follow direction from the Government of Ontario, who has provided a recommended process for school boards to follow in the event of a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in a school. School principals will also follow the School Reporting Protocol​ for positive cases of COVID-19. 
 
If a staff member has COVID-19 symptoms, they are to go to an assessment center and get tested. As per direction of Toronto Public Health, if the test is negative, individuals can return to work/school 24 hours after sym​ptoms go away, as long as they are not self-isolating for other reasons. Individuals with a confirmed case of COVID-19 can return to work only after they are cleared to do so by Toronto Public Health.
 
What happens if the whole class or school must be closed?
Toronto Public Health is responsible for declaring an outbreak, which occurs when there are two or more positive cases in a school, within a 14-day period, with at least one infection traced back to the school environment. It is important to note that an outbreak does not, in and of itself, trigger a school to close. 
 
If a whole class must be isolated, or if a full closure of the school is required, they will all move to virtual learning for the isolation period using the pre-established Brightspace or Google Classroom. If only one child is isolated, the standard protocol for a student absence would be followed, and the teacher would provide work using the pre-established Brightspace or Google Classroom.
 
Are students practicing physical distancing?
The following measures have been taken to facilitate student and staff physical distancing:
 
  • Classrooms are organized to encourage the maximum space between students. Floors are marked with decals to designate a one-way traffic flow and identifying 2 metre distances in key areas.
  • Signage is placed throughout the building to reinforce safety protocols.
  • Where physical distancing is not possible in school offices and public reception areas, alternative methods of separation such as plexiglass barriers will be used.
  • In order to reduce the potential for larger gatherings of students, we will be limiting occupancy levels in common areas such as hallways, stairwells and libraries.
  • Lockers will not be used by students at this time.
 
How are physical distancing requirements being adhered to during fire drills?
In order to continue to meet legislated obligations to conduct fire drills, while maintaining current public health practices for COVID, Toronto Fire Services recommends the following measures:
 
  • Stagger the participants in order to minimize overcrowding (eg. one floor at a time, partial floors at a time, select classes at a time, one class at a time, etc).
  • Make an announcement to the entire school to precede a practise fire alarm activation (to allow students to recognize the sound of the fire alarm system) followed by individual drills as mentioned above in which teachers practice their class evacuation in a staggered format. 
  • Hold virtual drills – for older students, simulate the actions to be taken by drawing out the applicable route (depending on virtual learning environment) to be followed and creating a step by step instruction list.
 
These activities can be performed in consultation with school Health and Safety representatives to ensure minimal contact among student cohorts. 
 
For further information, please refer to resources from the Office of the Fire Marshal of Ontario: 
 
 
How does the Board monitor students during lunch to ensure safety?
 
Kindergarten Students 
  • Some children can be assigned to “picnic” spaces for eating lunch and snacks that would be designated around the room.
  • When unmasked they are not at the same table. This could involve personal little mats provided by the teacher. 
  • If student desks have plexiglass (classes over 15 students), those spaces will be used to create distancing during lunch. 
 
Elementary Students
  • Students will remain in their cohorts when they eat their lunch in the classroom.
  • Student are encouraged to avoid conversations while seated during lunch.
  • No food utensils or other food related materials are to be shared during lunch.
  • Placement of waste in the garbage during lunch is coordinated so that students can dispose of their own waste and maintain proper social distancing.
  • Students will wash their hands both before and after lunch. 
  • Elementary students may only leave the school building for lunch with a parent/guardian, following established visitor protocols. 
 
Secondary Students 
  • If students are remaining at school for lunch, they are to remain in the school and bring their own lunch. 
  • There will be no cafeteria service in the school.
  • Students will eat lunch in the room they had their previous class and will clean up their own waste.
  • Students are encouraged to avoid conversations while seated during lunch.
  • Students cannot exchange food or other items during this time.
  • Students will wash their hands before and after lunch.
  • Students will be supervised.
 
Are students able to wash hands regularly? Is hand sanitizer being provided?
Hand washing time is built into daily school routines, including after washroom use, recess and lunch breaks. Alcohol-based sanitizers are available in all classrooms and at designated entry and exit points.
 
How will families know if there are any confirmed cases of COVID in TCDSB schools?
In alignment with the Ministry of Education's guidelines, a COVID-19 Advisory page has been established to identify confirmed cases of COVID-19 involving a student or staff member in a TCDSB school setting. Please note that all schools where there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 (where someone was contagious while at school) will receive a letter from Toronto Public Health to inform them about the possible exposure.
 
The Government of Ontario released a COVID-19 screening tool, does this replace the TCDSB Screening Passport?
The Government of Ontario's screening tool doesn’t replace the TCDSB Screening Passport​. The TCDSB Screening Passport still needs to be completed daily and sent with students to school.
 
Can students use water fountains?
Water fountains are not available. Each student is required to bring their own drink bottle(s) that are labeled, filled at home, and kept with them during the day and not shared.
 
How often will schools be cleaned?
Caretaking staff will perform routine cleaning of general facilities through the day and will conduct enhanced frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces such as light switches, handrails, door handles, etc. twice daily and throughout the day as required. Washrooms will be cleaned frequently throughout the day and shared items will be used minimally and will be disinfected between users.
 
How can I find out if a school is located in a higher risk COVID-19 area?
You can review this area map that shows TCDSB schools identified by Toronto Public Health in higher risk areas related to COVID-19.
 
Will there be any changes to the Reopening of Schools Action Plan?
The TCDSB Reopening of Schools Action Plan​ is an evolving document that will be updated as needed to reflect new information received.
 

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Transportation

Section last updated: September 18, 2020

 
What safety measures are in place for students travelling to and from school on school buses?
The following steps are being taken to ensure safe school bus transportation for drivers and students: 
 
  • Students and drivers are required to wear masks on school vehicles. 
  • Medical masks and eye protection (e.g. face shields) are provided for school bus drivers. Face shields will be removed while driving.
  • Before every trip, bus drivers, students, parents and staff must self-assess for any COVID-19 symptoms and not board a bus if any symptoms are present.
  • Signage is displayed on the buses to reinforce staying six feet apart where possible, and not going into the aisles or congregating near the driver.
  • Bus operators have increased the frequency of bus (e.g. seats, inside hand railing, interior windows and walls, etc.); the steering wheel and immediate driver area, as well as the tops of seats and hand railing will be wiped down between runs, which may result in some delay. 

 

Please refer to the Toronto Student Transportation Group​ and the TCDSB Reopening Action Plan​ for more information.

 
When will school bus transportation be available?
School bus service will start on Monday, September 21. Due to restrictions in place by Toronto Public Health, you must be registered for the school bus and assigned a seat in order to use the service on Monday. A number of new registrations have not yet been processed so it is important that you have alternate transportation options available early next week until we have your child assigned. All registrations must be done through the school. 
 
The first days of student transportation each year can present challenges as routes and lists are confirmed so delays are possible. Sign up on the Toronto Student Transportation Group website​ to receive e-mail notification of delays or visit the site to see if your bus route may be impacted. Please keep your school updated if you have issues with your transportation services and we will work to address as quickly as possible.

 

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Curriculum and Programs

Section last updated: September 21, 2020

 
If we opt for distance learning, can my child switch to in-class, or vice versa?
Students in distance learning who decide to return to in-class learning, need to notify the school principal. Re-entry into in-class learning is dependent on appropriate timing in relation to the achievement cycle and class enrollment numbers. For elementary, re-entry could be November, February or April. For secondary, it could be at the change of the quad. Students may be able to re-enter at other times if class size caps have not been exceeded. We also need to be mindful of the number of students waiting to re-enter. Once we attain thresholds of students on a wait list, we can determine if an increase in staffing is needed or reconfiguring the school.
 
How often will elementary students attend school if they opt to return to school?
All elementary students will attend school 5 days per week, limited to one class/cohort for the entire day including recess and lunchtime.
 
Are Adult Education, Continuing Education, Night School and Saturday International Language credit courses being offered in the 2020/2021 school year?
Adult Education and Continuing Education Programs are being delivered in the 2020/2021 school year through a variety of modalities: from fully online, to a combination of face to face and online. Night School and Saturday International Language credit courses are being delivered online through a Distance Learning model that includes both synchronous and asynchronous instruction.
 
Is the International Languages Program available for elementary students?
Day school classes continue to be offered at the designated elementary schools integrated within the regular school day. After hours programs (including after school and weekend programs) are being offered through an online platform. Visit the International Languages Program page for more information.
 
Will schools continue to offer health and physical education?
Adaptations to some program delivery models, for example health and physical education, may be necessary in order to adhere to enhanced safety protocols and Toronto Public Health guidance. Schools will determine the best approach to accommodate health and safety and physical distancing.
 
What is happening with exams and community service hours?
The final evaluation will be based on evidence from one or a combination of the following: an examination, a performance, an essay, and/or another method of evaluation suitable to the course content. Exams may be scheduled on instructional days.
 
The Ministry is still in discussions regarding details related to midterm evaluations and course withdrawal dates. There has been no change in the graduation requirement of 40 hours of Community Service Involvement.
 
Will Co-op Placements happen this fall?
Yes, TCDSB is running both In-person and virtual placements for our students. The secondary model is in 4 Quads where students can be placed for 8 weeks at a time.
 
Will any school trips be taking place this year?
Field trips and other activities that require group transportation will not be planned at this time.
 
Will school sports take place?
At this time, TCDSB has suspended participation for all team sports until the Board receives explicit direction from the Ontario Medical Officer of Health regarding the resumption of team sports/ group activity. 
 

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Access to Technology

Section last updated: September 18, 2020

 
My child is participating in online learning, what device does the Board recommend they use? 

For families with means to purchase their own devices for student learning, the TCDSB has summarized some technical guidance and recommendations, as well as options from some vendors. View the Personal Devices for Students for more information including important features to look for when purchasing a device. Don't forget all TCDSB students have free access to Microsoft Office 365 applications. Visit the TCDSB Digital Store​ for more information.

 
Does the Board provide devices to students participating in virtual learning this year? 

Most of the 10,500 devices distributed in the spring of 2020 remain with students in the current academic year. Outreach to families has began to confirm device and internet service requests from students enrolled in the virtual school, or secondary students engaged in the adaptive learning. The TCDSB currently has a limited supply of 2,500 Chromebook and 400 iPads for distribution to students in need.

 

Delivery to home schools for distribution will occur during the week of September 28, 2020. Order processing will continue weekly until all devices are distributed. The TCDSB is trying to target devices to students who are most in need and encouraging others to purchase their own device, if they can. The TCDSB Digital Store​ has links to discounted hardware from select vendors along with recommend models by grade.

 
Who do I contact if my child is having technical issues with their Board loaned device?  

Some technical support is available centrally to assist students. Instructions to connect your laptop to your home internet can be found in the box with the device that is being sent to student's homes. If you have any issues setting up your laptop, please contact the TCDSB Service Desk using our website. They are open Monday to Friday from 7:30am to 8:00pm. You may call us at 416‐222‐8282 ext. 4357, if you are unable to get to the website.

 

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Child ​Care Centres and Playgrounds

Section last updated: September 21, 2020

 
Is school playground equipment accessible to students during the school day?

The TCDSB continues to follow the guidance of Toronto Public Health (TPH) on COVID safety related issues and protocols. Where possible the TCDSB encourages outdoor activities as safe and healthy options for our students. TPH has advised that play structures can now be safely utilized by separate cohorts of children, under the supervision of staff. Hand hygiene will be encouraged before and after playground use. ​School administrators will determine local guidelines for usage of play structures, to ensure that cohort recommendations are followed and children can safely access play structures at our schools.

 
Are child care centres and before and after school programs in TCDSB schools open?

Child care centres in TCDSB schools have started to reopen. Please contact operators directly to confirm program offerings, hours of operation and specific dates for reopening. 

 
Are TCDSB sports playing fields and playgrounds open?

TCDSB reopened most sports fields and basketball courts effective May 23, 2020. The following restrictions still apply:

 

  • All are asked to maintain physical distancing.
  • Groups of up to 10 are permitted to gather.
  • Play structures are now open, but parent/guardians are reminded that these are not being cleaned/disinfected.

 

What is the Board doing to curb groups of larger than 10 at school playgrounds?
The Board has enlisted additional security who are making the rounds more frequently to ensure that school properties remain secure.

 

Will permits be reinstated?
In order to continue to support both the health and safety protocols and enhanced cleaning procedures in place for our schools, the TCDSB will not be issuing permits for community use of schools during the month of October. The postponement of school permits will provide additional time to ensure the availability of sufficient resources for permit supervision.

 

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Parent Engagement

Section last updated: September 10, 2020

 
Are parents/guardians allowed to visit schools?
Schools will significantly limit visitors, including parents/guardians. Any essential visitors to a school will be required to conduct a COVID-19 health screening at the designated school entrance/screening station and will be required to wear a mask while on school property and sanitize hands upon entry.
 
Can parents/guardians volunteer in class or in the office?
Please inquire with the school principal about possible volunteer opportunities.
 
Can parents/guardians come into the school to pick up their children?
Parents/guardians will be informed about safe pick up and drop off protocols by their local school.
 
What will happen with curriculum nights?
The expectation is that curriculum night, parent-teacher interviews and open houses will continue, however these may be done in a virtual format. Watch for details from your local school.
 
Will Catholic School Parent Council elections take place?
Yes, elections will be held this fall as per Board and Ministry requirements. Further details will be provided soon.
 

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