Elementary students with the Kenora Catholic District School Board will head back to their classrooms today, but things will look different.

Trustees and school board staff have been working with the Ministry of Labour and the Northwestern Health Unit to develop a number of protocols to keep students and staff as safe as possible from COVID-19.

“The major change is the increased emphasis on health and safety processes,” explained Director of Education for the Kenora Catholic District School Board, Derek Haime.

“Things will look different, but we will always do our best to give the best educational experience that is possible. We have introduced some new and enhanced procedures to ensure that everybody’s safe.”

“There will be increased attention to our etiquette when someone’s sick. When someone is sick, we really encourage folks to stay home and get better. There will be increased hand-washing, especially before and after recess and at set times during the day. Mask wearing will be mandatory for most students and all of our staff.”

“School buses will have seating plans to ensure students who belong to class cohorts are seated together and there’s minimum mixing of those cohorts. At school, cohorts is the order of the day. Those students will stay together to the greatest extent possible.”

Haime notes that secondary students with the KCDSB are starting on a staggered start schedule. Grades 8 and 12 will begin tomorrow. Grade 10 students will begin their schedules on September 8, while Grade 11 students will begin on September 9.

Guidelines for local school boards include:

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.

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.

For more information:
Kenora Catholic explains protocols for sick students
COVID-19 changes course load for Kenora Catholic students