As we prepare to return to school following March Break, we know it is with a range of emotions as we transition out of an intense emergency pandemic state and move to a more sustainable, long-term approach to managing COVID-19.
We recognize that adapting to this new reality will take time and that not everyone will have the same level of comfort as measures are lifted. It is ok to be anxious about the coming weeks and it is also ok to be excited and hopeful. Please do what makes you feel comfortable during this time and please respect the individual choices that other people make. No matter what others’ personal decisions may be, schools and all TDSB spaces should always be welcome, respectful and safe places for all.
For Monday, we wanted to remind you of some changes and provide some additional details to how schools will implement direction from the Ministry of Education and Toronto Public Health with respect to COVID-19 health and safety measures.
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, responded to the TDSB’s request for more time to implement these changes, and reiterated their previous direction. Toronto Public Health responded by noting that all policies related to mask mandates in schools are the responsibility of the provincial government, but underscored their continued partnership with the TDSB as we continue to navigate health and safety measures together.
Revised Health Screening
Toronto Public Health has updated its screening for children/students/adults to align with the new direction from the Chief Medical Officer of Health with respect to isolation guidelines and masking requirements following a COVID-19 diagnosis or identification of being a close contact. Please do a daily self-assessment with this screening tool before coming to school and follow the isolation guidelines and other requirements, such as masking, as necessary. As of Monday, you do not need to provide verification of this self-assessment through either the Health Paper Pass or Health Screening App.
As of March 21, masks will be strongly encouraged in TDSB schools, though not required, except in the following circumstances:
- For days 6-10 after a self-isolation period of five days after a COVD-19 diagnosis. Learn more.
- If you are identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19. Learn more.
- In public spaces, including schools and childcares, for the first 14 days following travel outside of Canada. Learn more.
TDSB schools will continue to be mask-friendly environments. Masks will still be available to both staff and students upon request. Classroom environments will be inclusive of all students.
Cohorting and Physical Distancing
With the lifting of all cohorting and physical distancing requirements, students may now sit, work and play together. As schools move towards these more normal, pre-pandemic conditions, some activities such as extracurriculars and events, require a more thoughtful, phased-in approach in schools, as well as significant staff support. Please be patient as schools work to implement these changes in their local community.
This new direction also impacts our Severe Weather procedure. As classes can now combine, moving forward, when busses are canceled as a result of severe weather, schools will now remain open, in line with the Toronto Catholic District School Board with whom we share bussing services.
Thank you for your continued patience and support. We look forward to welcoming students back next week.