Staff with the Kenora Catholic District School Board have been working alongside the Ministry of Education and the Northwestern Health Unit to develop appropriate safety protocols, if the worst-case scenario were to happen and a student is diagnosed with COVID-19.
“If there is a confirmed case, the Northwestern Health Unit will take action and give direct instruction to everyone involved with exactly what to do. They will start an investigation immediately to inform us,” explained Director of Education for the KCDSB, Derek Haime.
As well, Haime says they’ve developed a number of new safety measures in all of their elementary and secondary schools, which include additional hand hygiene measures, social distancing enforcement, additional cleaning and much more.
Schools will be sending COVID-19 self-assessment checklists home with students along with reminders, and schools are asking parents to conduct the screening. Students who are visibly ill will be sent home.
Schools will immediately notify the parents and guardians if their child becomes ill, and the need for emergency contact is vital. The class of the ill child or staff member may be closed until cleaning takes place.
In that situation, the class would be relocated to another area in the building. Students or staff members who test positive will not be able to return to school until they clear the Northwestern Health Unit’s guidelines and isolation.
Schools will also have a protocol where if they’re notified that a staff member or student has become ill overnight, the school needs to be notified so they can clean the areas where the person was, before becoming ill.
If another student in your student’s classroom becomes ill, the health unit may notify other parents, based on if there is significant concern. If there is contact tracing required, you will be contacted directly by health unit staff.
If another student in your child’s cohort are positive for COVID-19 and your student is required to self-isolate by the health unit, students will be supported through access to remote-learning tools.
Every school will have a designated room where the ill student can be separated from other staff and students until they’re able to go home, they will be supervised at a two metre distance and staff will wear personal protective equipment.
Staff remind the public to assume that COVID-19 is spreading within your community, and to always follow social distancing and hand hygiene guidelines. Masks are now mandatory in all enclosed public spaces in northwestern Ontario.
Masks will be required for all Grade 4 to Grade 12 students, and they are encouraged for Kindergarten to Grade 3 students. Face shields are not a viable substitute, as they do not offer the same level of protection as a face mask.
Haime also says the board will use staggered starts for their secondary students, but Kenora Catholic’s elementary schools will all start on September 3. It’s to help students readjust to their new schedules and timetables, as well as the new safety measures.
Grades 7 and 9 will begin on September 3, while Grades 8 and 12 will begin on September 4. Grade 10 students will begin their schedules on September 8, while Grade 11 students will begin on September 9.