Trustees with the Kenora Catholic District School Board say as students feel more and more safe with their school’s new and ongoing COVID-19 protocols, some virtual students are switching back to in-person learning.

Trustees met virtually on January 19, and Superintendent of Business Services, Alison Smith, provided an update on the board’s COVID-19 safety protocols and their success so far.

“We’ve implemented multiple hand sanitizing stations at every entranceway in a school that’s used regularly, for recess, nutrition breaks or the main entrance. We also ensured they were all equipped with extra cleaning supplies.”

“We were also able to hire 6 additional custodial staff for enhanced cleaning protocols in place, this will help with high-touch areas, and deep cleaning in the after-hours.”

Smith says the board worked with Wilson’s Business Solutions on signage in the schools, for the floors, walls, entranceways wash your hand signs and more, and the government provides them with monthly supplies of personal protective equipment, including face masks, face shields and safety goggles.

“We do try to work with the staff and with everyone to find options that are comfortable for them, because we’re required to wear them all day long,” says Smith, who adds they’ve also purchased plastic barriers to help separate staff and students for 1-on-1 work in a safe way.

Smith adds a unique piece of PPE the board has been able to secure for Learning Resource teachers, in limited supply, are clear face masks. They allow hearing impaired students to be able to read their teacher’s lips, opposed to the typical mask which blocks their mouths.

Overall, trustees say that their many COVID-19 protocols have helped to keep students as safe as possible, and they’ve seen positive feedback from students and staff.

“From what I’ve received and from what I’ve heard, I think they do feel safe,” says Smith. “We are seeing students from the St. Isidore Virtual School return to our brick and mortar schools,” adds Director of Education Paul White. “The feeling of being safe is there. Our numbers are moving more into the brick and mortar schools.”

“But if any student at any time wants to switch between the brick and mortar school and the virtual school, or vice-versa, we will work that out as much as we can with the Principal and the parent.”

White notes the new requirement for Grade 1 to 3 students to wear face masks, as well as students wearing masks outdoors, hasn’t been an issue for them.

“It’s going very well. The teachers and the administration had been working on it for quite a while. Before it became mandatory, many of the children in Grades 1 to 3 were wearing masks anyways, so it wasn’t a huge change to have it mandatory for us.”

All students are asked to use Ontario’s online screening tool before attending school each day, and to stay home, self-isolate, get tested and remain in isolation until your results are known, if you’re feeling unwell.

For more information:
‘It’s been amazing,’ Haime, White reflect on Kenora Catholic’s 2020
‘It feels like coming home,’ Eikre returns to Kenora Catholic