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Frequently Asked Questions


Last updated: October 4, 2021

Have questions about the 2021-2022 school year? Find answers to questions about the following topics:


Please note that these FAQs may continue to change as we are anticipating additional information/updates from the Ministry of Education and Toronto Public Health (TPH).

Reorganization


NEW! Why are so many staff and schools being affected by this reorganization?
Student enrolment is projected in the spring based on demographics and pre-registrations and submitted to the Ministry of Education. September staffing is based on these projections/pre-registrations, but is adjusted once students show up in September. 

As school boards receive funding based on actual student enrolment, each year school boards must undergo reorganization to align Ministry funding for staffing with actual student enrolment. This reorganization process is an annual process in the TCDSB and across the province. School Boards cannot maintain classes beyond what we are provided funding for and what provincial class sizes dictate. 

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, schools in Toronto are seeing a decline in their enrolment, particularly in Kindergarten. This year’s decline has necessitated reorganization to align staffing with actual enrolment to create classes compliant with Ministry class size expectations and corresponding funding.

NEW! I heard my child’s class is getting combined into a split class because of the reorganization. How does this benefit my child?
Children in combined classes receive the same quality of education as students in single grade classes, and studies have found that students in combined classes do just as well as students in single-grade classes. In fact, some students in combined classes have been shown to actually do better in language and reading. Students in classes where there is more than one level often learn to become more independent, responsible learners and develop a greater degree of social responsibility. For more information, we encourage families to review the Ontario Introduction to Combined Grades​.

NEW! What are class size caps?
Class sizes are based on rules and funding set by the Ministry of Education. There are "caps" or maximum class size limits on some grades. There is also something called “class averages”. This means that some class sizes are based on maintaining a board-wide average but most classes across the board are below the average. The Kindergarten and Primary caps are mandated “hard caps” while Grade 4 and above are based on averages. 

Note: The Ministry allows for up to 10% of Primary classes to be above the cap up to a maximum of 23. Below is reference to the basic rules set by the Ministry of Education for class size caps:

  • Kindergarten: 29 students.
  • Grades 1-3: 20 students.
  • Grades 4-8: 31 students.

NEW! Why is my child’s school undergoing these changes weeks after the start of the school year? Is this decision final?
Each year, Collective Agreement compliant staff reorganization takes place as student enrolment is confirmed. Staffing must align with the actual number of students in each school. Normally, enrolment stabilizes over the first two to three weeks of school each year which allows for a more definitive understanding of the actual number of students in every school. 

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, schools in Toronto are seeing a decline in their enrolment, particularly in Kindergarten, which has a direct impact on staffing at a school. 

The Ministry compliant reorganization process of our elementary schools was finalized on September 30, 2021. It takes some time to operationalize the changes once finalized. As such, schools will be transitioning during the week of October 4, with all changes in place by October 12, 2021.

NEW! What is the Board using its Ministry COVID funding for this year? Why is it not being used to lower class sizes?
Much of the COVID funding is for non-staffing costs such as technology, transportation, ventilation and cleaning supplies. The majority of staffing related funding is for non-teaching positions in areas such as Special Education, Mental Health, Virtual Schools and Custodial Services. 

The number of classrooms and teachers is based strictly on Ministry funding parameters including applicable class sizes.

NEW! Why doesn’t the Board use its reserves to reduce the number of classrooms impacted by the reorganization?
The Board has used all of its reserves in the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 budgets to support additional COVID related costs and financial impacts and is committed to continuing to promote and support all measures contributing to reducing transmission in schools and keeping our communities as safe as possible.


Curriculum and Programs


Will schools continue to offer health and physical education?
Adaptations to some in-person learning 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.

Will elementary students have the same teacher for the entire school year?
As part of our annual process, some staffing adjustments for both in-person and remote classrooms may be required in mid-September as we work to address long-term occasional teaching and surplus positions. This is also likely for St. Anne Catholic Academy, School of Virtual Learning classrooms. This process happens every year as enrollment stabilizes by the end of September.

Will specialty programs be offered for both in-person and virtual learning models?
At this time elementary specialty programs such as French Immersion and Extended French will be offered in the in-person learning environment only.

What is happening with community involvement hours for high school students?
For the 2021 – 2022 school year, the community involvement graduation requirement will continue to be 20 hours of community involvement activities. Visit the Community Involvement Hours page for more information.

Will Co-op Placements happen this fall?
Yes, TCDSB is running both in-person and virtual placements for our students. Students can attend in-person placements and OYAP programs once schools reopen.

Will any field trips be taking place for the 2021-2022 school year?
Recognizing the benefits of experiential learning, a gradual return of field trips can occur based on the following considerations:

  • Virtual field trips will continue when possible.
  • There will be a preference towards outdoor field trips because they are lower risk compared to indoor field trips.
  • Overnight field trips are not permitted.
  • For the duration of the trip, students will remain in their cohort or smaller groupings of their cohort, including during transportation.
  • Pick-up/drop off of students will occur within a designated area.
  • To facilitate contact tracing, records of all individuals including names, contact information, time of arrival/departure and screening will be required.

Will sports and extra-curricular activities be taking place for the 2021-2022 school year?
Taking into consideration the Toronto Public Health Guidelines, TCDSB schools will implement a gradual return to extra-curricular activities including clubs, bands (with exception of wind & brass instruments) and sports with mixed cohorts, beginning as early as the week of September 20, 2021. 

Health and Physical Education 

Health and physical education curriculum activities will continue and students will remain in their cohorts. The use of gymnasiums, swimming pools, change rooms, weight rooms, indoor physical education equipment and shared outdoor equipment are permitted with masking and physical distancing. 

Extra-Curricular Activities with Mixed Cohorts: Clubs, Bands (with exception of wind & brass instruments), Sports, etc.

TCDSB schools will support the gradual return of such activities beginning the week of September 20, 2021 with considerations for the following:

  • Individuals from different schools and mixed cohorts will be limited to the outdoors.
  • Attendance will be required for contact tracing purposes.
  • Confirmation of daily screening by all participants, staff and volunteers will be required.
  • High-contact and high intensity activities are permitted outdoors. Masking is not required but should be considered along with physical distancing when possible.
  • Low contact and low intensity activities are permitted indoors. Masking and physical distancing is required.
  • Please note that due to ongoing Toronto Elementary Catholic Teachers (TECT) work to rule actions, extra-curricular activities at the elementary level may be impacted. 

This gradual return to extra-curriculars is in alignment with guidance from TPH to ensure student and community safety while delivering the clubs and activities that our students enjoy. The full COVID-19 guidance for schools can be found on the City of Toronto website​.

Secondary Schools Modified Semester


All students and staff in secondary schools should have received both vaccinations by the time school starts, why can’t we go back to a “normal” semester model?
The Ministry of Education continues to limit the number of courses a student can carry during the day to two courses per day. Students will carry 4 courses at a time for the entire semester. Carrying 2 courses daily then switching to the other 2 courses on alternating weeks allows for students to be cohorted. This can assist with contact tracing and limits the number of students who must isolate if a positive case is confirmed. 

School boards cannot return to a semester model in which students carry multiple courses at a time on a daily basis until this Ministry requirement to only carry 2 courses at a time is amended or removed.

What is the difference between a quadmester and a modified semester?
In a quadmester, students take two courses at a time for a condensed, 10-week period, four times per year. At the end of the academic year, students will have had the opportunity to complete 8 courses, but in four 4 distinct quadmesters.

In a modified semester, students carry two courses per day for one week, then two different courses per day the next week, alternating over the course of a regular semester. Students are carrying 4 courses for the semester, but only take 2 courses per week. This allows for the continued cohorting of students for contact tracing and potential isolation purposes. A modified semester does not change the usual school start and end times and students would remain at school for the regular day.

If students are in a modified semester carrying 4 courses per semester, why can’t we go to a normal semester?
As long as the Ministry requires students to carry no more than 2 courses per day, with a 48-hour window between the mixing of cohorts, students are limited to 2 classes per day a week at a time. A modified semester is as close as a school board can get to a normal semester, while still adhering to the current Ministry requirements.


Health and Safety

NEW! Now that teachers must disclose if they are vaccinated, how can I find out if my child’s teacher is vaccinated?
As per Ontario’s health privacy legislation, the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA), all disclosures remain confidential. However, we have made public depersonalized stats for TCDSB COVID-19 vaccination attestation.

NEW! How is TCDSB managing staff who are not vaccinated?
Staff that have not yet disclosed their vaccination status must complete regular Rapid Antigen Testing twice weekly with at least 3 days between tests.

NEW! What are the Rapid Antigen Tests and why are they needed?
Rapid Antigen Tests can detect COVID-19 cases that would otherwise be missed, so people can isolate before they infect others. Rapid Antigen Tests return results in minutes, making them ideal for schools and workplaces. The test can be self-administered at home. 

Please note a Rapid Antigen Test is not considered a diagnostic test. A positive Rapid Antigen Test indicates that someone might have COVID-19 but need to confirm positivity by completing a second formal lab-based “PCR” test at a local designated assessment centre. 

The Rapid Antigen Testing program for the TCDSB has been prescribed by the Ministry of Education and the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health.

NEW! Why doesn’t the TCDSB mandate Rapid Antigen Testing for all staff and students?
We continue to rely on the advice and guidance from the Ministry of Education and TPH on measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to keep our schools safe. Senior staff meet with TPH regularly to discuss how to best support programs and policies intended to keep our schools as safe as possible.

NEW! Why isn't the TCDSB mandating vaccines for both staff and all eligible 12+ students doing in person learning?
We will continue to work with our partners at TPH and the Ministry of Education to support the rollout of vaccinations. The TCDSB vaccination disclosure policy aligns with the authority granted to school boards by the directions issued by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. 

TCDSB Board of Trustees have further advocated to the Government of Ontario to update the Immunization of School Pupils Act to require current COVID-19 vaccines for eligible students. 

At this time, TPH has asked that boards seek voluntary student vaccine attestation to assist with contact tracing purposes and we have done so. TCDSB encourages vaccination for those eligible and continues to share information regarding vaccines and pop-up clinics.

Do vaccinated staff and students still need to wear a mask at school?
At this time, TPH continues to advise that all students are required to wear non-medical or cloth masks/face coverings indoors on school property, and outdoors if physical distancing cannot be maintained. If a student can't wear a face mask for medical reasons, a prevalent medical conditions form must be completed with medical practitioner documentation. The school will try to accommodate the student as best as possible taking into consideration the student’s well being and the safety of others. Please note that a face shield is not a replacement for a face mask.

All staff members are required to wear a medical grade mask, and will be provided with and required to wear personal protective equipment such as medical grade masks and face shields to safely interact with students and staff.

Will students be required to wear masks outdoors during recess?
Students are not required to wear masks outdoors during recess, unless they cannot maintain a safe distance of at least 2 metres from each other.

Is vaccination a mandatory requirement for students to attend in-person learning?
No. Students are not required to be vaccinated to attend in-person learning.

What other health and safety measures can be expected to keep staff and students safe?

  • Daily screening will continue.
  • Mandatory masks for everyone at school.
  • Portable hand-washing stations have been installed on floors with classrooms that don't have washrooms.
  • A number of touch-less sanitizers have been placed where a portable wash unit cannot be placed.
  • School boards are continuing to upgrade ventilation. Schools without mechanical ventilation will have stand alone high efficiency HEPA filters in place in each classroom. HEPA filters will be in place in all JK/SK schools/classrooms regardless if there is mechanical ventilation or not.
  • Where maintaining physical distancing is challenging, plexiglass and portable shielding for offices, administrative areas and student desks may be installed in schools.

What happens if a student is ill and showing symptoms?
We continue to expect students to complete the TCDSB Screening Passport​ daily before attending school. Please refer to this decision guide produced by Toronto Public Health.

When a child is ready to return to school (cleared by Toronto Public Health or fully recovered), families are asked to send in a completed attestation form​.

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.

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 class/cohort or school to close.

If a whole class must be isolated, or if a full closure of the school is required, affected students and staff 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. Please refer to the Transition to Distance Learning document for details.

Will physical distancing still be required?
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 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 may 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.

How are physical distancing requirements being adhered to during fire drills?
Please refer to the resources from the Office of the Fire Marshal of Ontario:

How can my child eat lunch safely during the day since they are attending all day?
Students will have about 40 minutes to eat their lunch outside of the regular instructional time. Students who eat lunch in the school will eat lunch with one of their daily cohorts. Students will eat in various locations within each school according to space availability. If appropriate, students may be able to eat outside. Schools will identify other appropriate eating spaces in the building keeping safety protocols at the forefront. Consistent with local school policies, students may leave the school property for lunchtime.

How often will schools be cleaned?
Caretaking staff will perform thorough cleaning of general facilities throughout the day and will conduct cleaning of high touch surfaces such as light switches, handrails, door handles, etc. as required. Washrooms will be cleaned frequently; and shared items will be used minimally and disinfected between users.

Will shared spaces and materials (e.g.: cafeteria, gym and library) be available to students?
Students will be able to access space in the cafeteria, gym, library and computer/technology labs in their school. When different cohorts interact in shared indoor spaces, masking and as much distancing as possible should be maintained between cohorts. More information on these spaces will be provided once available.

Can lockers or cubbies be used?
The use of lockers / cubbies is permitted.


Special Education and Individual Education Plans


My child will be attending school in-person and has special education needs. Where do I get more information about my child’s transition back to school?
School principals have been reaching out to families of students with complex special education needs to help support a successful transition back to school. This local school outreach will continue as we approach the beginning of the school year. Parents with specific concerns about their child are encouraged to reach out to the school principal.

My secondary child with special education needs will be learning remotely through the hybrid model. Where do I get more information about connecting remotely with my child’s teacher?
Your child’s class will include students who are learning in-person and some who are learning at home. All information regarding remote learning through the hybrid model will be coming from the staff at your child’s school. Parents with specific concerns about their child are encouraged to reach out to the local school principal.

My elementary child with special education needs will be attending St. Anne Catholic Academy, Jr. How will I receive information about my child’s class and teacher?
The administrative team from St. Anne will be sharing information with parents electronically in the days ahead through the email that parents have provided to the board.

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Learning Models and Transfer


Can my child in elementary switch learning models from in-person to virtual or virtual to in-person learning?
Please see July 16, 2021 communication to families regarding registration for 2021-2022 school year learning models. As the letter states, the learning model choice families select for their child(ren) in Summer 2021 will be effective for the entire 2021-2022 school year.

As per the Admissions Policy, families will have the ability to make a transfer request to an in-person or home school, or to St. Anne Catholic Academy, Virtual School of Learning from in-person learning; however, transfers will only be fulfilled if there is space. Families whose transfer requests cannot be accommodated immediately will be placed on a waitlist until there is an opportunity to transfer. In instances where there is no availability, a request to transfer may not be possible.

Will elementary students learning remotely in 2021-2022 be part of an in-person or home school?
For those families that register their child(ren) in remote learning in 2021-2022, your child will be a student of St Anne, School of Virtual Learning and will not be part of their current in-person or home school.

Will elementary students learning remotely in 2021-2022 be guaranteed a spot back at their home school in 2022-2023?
We are working with school administration to ensure your child will have a spot for the 2022-2023 school year.

Can my child transfer from remote learning to in-person learning this school year?
Under extenuating circumstances, dependent on allocated space at the school, some transfer requests may be accommodated.​

Will in-person and virtual learning offer the same amount of instruction time?
Students in Kindergarten to Grade 8 will receive 300 minutes of instruction per day, whether they are registered for in-person or remote learning. For detailed information about what to expect for both learning models, review these documents - elementary school learning model​ | secondary school learning model.

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