Fall Update – Director of Education

October 29th, 2021

Dear WCDSB Community,

We hope that you continue to be well and that you are enjoying some of the beauty that the fall season affords us.  We are pleased that, for the moment, cases seem to be slowing provincially and in the region, and in general, currently we are seeing fewer cases in our schools.

This letter brings a few important updates of which we would like you to be aware as they are important to your understanding as to how things are unfolding and precautions we wish to continue to enforce, so that we may continue on a safe, healthy and positive path as a community.

Screening

As we have shared before, please know that one of the most important things you do each and every day is to complete the screening tool before you as a staff member or student (or parent of a student) arrive at school.  Any individual who fails the screener or who is symptomatic in any way should not be reporting to school.  That is part of our collective responsibility to one another.

https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/

Vaccination

We have started our conversations with Waterloo Region Public Health about vaccination for our 5-11 year olds but at this point, things are still in the planning and approval stage.  As updates become available and we have specifics to share, we will be in touch as promptly as possible.

Testing

On October 28th, the government did share additional updates in relation to program with PCR testing and rapid antigen testing (“Test to Stay”).  In both cases these programs feed from pilot programs in the province,  and will be utilized when deemed necessary.  Both are in relation to when there are positive cases being experienced in a given school community.  There are specific criteria tied to their use and are not general surveillance/screening tools.

Sports / Athletics

As reported in my last letter, we have been pleased to see the return of athletics and sport to our schools and for inter-scholastic play to have returned for those age 12 and older.  The criteria to play is full vaccination and/or proof of a negative test.  This strategy is being used in a very targeted way for students who are not able to use our other usual strategies to ensure their safety – that is – they are unable to ensure masking and social distancing.  We have been heartened by how well received the return to athletics has gone, and remain enormously grateful to our (coaching) staff for supporting this “return to play/competition”.  The tests we were able to provide, through the support of a local partner, are no longer available to us.  At a provincial level, informed by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, they have indicated we are no longer able to access or provide the tests.  We are disappointed by this decision as we did feel it was a safe and equitable way to deliver sports.  Our policy that a player /athlete must be fully vaccinated or provide evidence of a negative test has not changed.  Families will now have to source the tests.  Below we provide some links where those purchases may be made.  Of course, vaccination remains an option.

https://rapidtestcanada.ca/product/covid-19-rapid-test-maple/

https://rapidtestandtrace.ca/

Inclement Weather Protocol

Every year at this time we like to share some reminders about protocols for snow days.  As you know – there are sometimes days in the winter when we have to cancel bussing due to the weather and unsafe driving conditions for our buses.  In the past, if roads were still passable, we would leave schools open.  On those days however, we often pooled classes based on the number of staff who fully attended and the number of students.  This year, as was the case last year, that is not possible due to our covid cohort- related restrictions.  In consultation with the public board, with whom we share bussing, when we cancel buses, we will close schools and have a remote learning day.  Your teacher will communicate with you in advance so you know where to look for school work for the day and protocols on such days, but in broad terms, the teachers will post work in the morning, no later than 9:30 a.m. and students will work on their own timing in their home.  It will allow all students to access some learning and we will be continuing to keep one and all safe.  We realize it may not be a perfect solution and learning day, but bus snow days rarely were.  We apologize in advance for any inconvenience and hope that we are not in this situation too often.

Potential Travel

A reminder that students under 12, travelling with vaccinated parents do not have to quarantine per se, but they are not allowed to return to school until 14 days from return have passed.  This guidance is found on our webpage.  This is federal policy we are sharing.

https://www.wcdsb.ca/covid-19-student-screening-and-testing/

Please review our full Operational Guidelines to ensure you understand how we are continuing to ensure a safe and happy school experience for all.

We are grateful for your support and partnership as we navigate this unique year.

Sincerely,

Loretta Notten

Director of Education

WCDSB Student Census

Dear Parents/Guardians,

As you are aware, we have our WCDSB Student Census beginning in just over 2 weeks. We invite you to please have a look at the census here https://www.wcdsb.ca/student-census/

The purpose of the WCDSB Student Census is to eliminate systemic racism and advance racial equity in the WCDSB as authorized by the Anti-Racism Act in s.7(2).  The WCDSB Student Census is a confidential and voluntary survey for all students from Grades 4 to 12 that students will complete with their classroom teacher during class time.  The results and analysis of the census will allow us to gain a deeper understanding of the diversity of students within the WCDSB and of the cultural, social and demographic makeup of our students.

The WCDSB Students Census is voluntary. Any student may choose not to participate, to stop participating, or to skip a question at any time. Additionally, parents/guardians of students under 18 years of age can ask that their child be exempt from participating in the census. As part of our communication campaign, information has been distributed electronically by school Newswire, on our website, and on social media.  As you will read within the Student Census information, there is an OPT out opportunity, this process is explained within the link. The OPT out option is available until October 25th should parents choose this.

We look forward to sharing the results from the Student Census as it becomes available.

Thanksgiving Letter from the Director of Education

October 7th, 2021

Dear WCDSB Community,

As we journey into the Thanksgiving Weekend, I am very reflective of the fact that this month and this season is characterized by gratitude.   In these sometimes very challenging times, it is so very easy to feel daunted or get discouraged.  So, it is important that we take the time to pause and take note of the many blessings in our lives.  We truly are just so blessed to live in a country and community that provides us easy access to the supports we need to navigate this pandemic, and that for the most part we are here for one another – supporting one another and journeying through this time together, guided by the love of Christ.

This letter brings a few important updates of which we would like you to be aware and it also affords me an opportunity to share my thanks to each of you.  First of all – to our staff.  This is – for many of you – your third year working in a pandemic reality.  Your many efforts, your care, compassion, resilience, commitment and passion for your chosen vocation have not gone unnoticed and are deeply appreciated.  You are making a difference in students’ lives, regardless of your role.  To our parents and community members – thank you for your trust and for walking with us, on a journey of accompaniment as we all strive to do our best to serve our young people.  And to our students – we applaud your grit and your spirit as you work through some challenging times, while you strive to be your best selves.

Now to our brief updates:

Screening

Please know that one of the most important things you do each and every day is to complete the screening tool before you as a staff member or student (or parent of a student) arrive at school.  Any individual who fails the screener or who is symptomatic in any way should not be reporting to school.  That is part of our collective responsibility to one another.

https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/

Vaccination

While we do not actively promote vaccination in our schools, we are told and do know from all the provincial science tables, the Chief Medical Officers of Health – provincial and local, and our lived experience, that vaccination is one of the most important decisions we can make in support of a healthy learning environment for all.  We encourage all eligible staff and students to carefully consider this option based on the advice we are receiving.  We do not have information yet about the option for our 5-11 year olds to be vaccinated but progress is being made, and as soon as we have an update, we will share it with you.

Rapid Testing

There has been much in the media of late about rapid testing.  On Tuesday October 5th the Chief Medical Officer of Health for the province indicated that there would be targeted use of this strategy.  It will only be used where there is an indication it is needed – specifically if high case counts or transmission is being observed, and/or low vaccination rates are known.  They are not used when and where cases are low as the risk of false positives and the potential to administer the test incorrectly, outweigh its potential benefit.  We will always work with and defer to public health for their advice on this matter.  Currently our case counts are low and rates of transmission in schools, extremely low, so it is not being advised at this time.  When advised that it would be an effective strategy, we will support its use for our asymptomatic staff and students – who may wish to partake on a voluntary basis.

Sports / Athletics

We have been pleased to see the return of athletics and sport to our schools and for inter-scholastic play to have returned for those age 12 and older.  The criteria to play is full vaccination and/or proof of a negative test.  This strategy is being used in a very targeted way for students who are not able to use our other usual strategies to ensure their safety – that is – they are unable to ensure masking and social distancing.  We are enormously grateful to our (coaching) staff for supporting this “return to play/competition”.

Masking

Students from K to 12 will continue to wear masks.  An exemption form is required for any student in grades 1 to 12 who is unable to wear a mask.  We continue to strongly support this precaution, as Public Health and provincial guidance suggests that outside of vaccination, it is our best strategy to promote a healthy and safe environment for all.  We ask you to continue working with us to support students in understanding why we wear a mask and how to do so safely.

Potential Travel

For those who are vaccinated, your minds may be turning to travel.  We wish to point out that according to current guidelines, while students under 12, travelling with vaccinated parents do not have to quarantine per se, they are not allowed to return to school until 14 days from return have passed.  This guidance is found on our webpage.  This is federal policy we are sharing.

https://www.wcdsb.ca/covid-19-student-screening-and-testing/

Please review our full Operational Guidelines to ensure you understand how we are continuing to ensure a safe and happy school experience for all.

We are truly looking forward to a year that allows us to embrace a renewed love of learning, within our faith-based communities.  We remain ever grateful for your continued support and remain ready and willing to assist you as we continue to navigate these times.  Once again – on behalf of the Senior Team – we extend our very best wishes for a restful Thanksgiving weekend.  Please celebrate conscious of the precautions Public Health asks us to observe.   May God continue to bless you, your families and your Thanksgiving gatherings.

Sincerely

Loretta Notten

Director of Education

PIZZA – Starting November 4th, 2021

Dear families,

 

Pizza lunches are back! Starting on November 4th, 2021.  All St. Aloysius students will have the opportunity to purchase one or multiple pizza slices. Due to Covid 19 and public health protocols, we will be offering individually packaged pizza slices for the cost of $2.50 per slice. Each pizza slice will come in it’s own package so it will not be handled by anyone. These slices are larger than the usual slice. The options will be cheese or pepperoni slices.

 No cash will be accepted and all orders must be done through school cash online.  

We will be opening the orders on school cash online shortly.

Please remember you will be ordering for the whole month, we will not be doing weekly orders.

Thank you

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