September 2021

We know that our families will have many questions.

Please view the below FAQs. For more information, contact the main office at your child’s school.

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FAQs

COVID-19/Health & Safety

NEW: What will nutrition breaks look like for students when masks are removed for eating?

  • During Elementary nutrition breaks, students will temporarily remove their mask to eat and drink

  • Cohorts will be maintained inside and outside

  • Students will be seated at desks when masks are removed

  • Physical distancing and hand hygiene will be part of the infection prevention and control measures

  • Hand sanitizer is available in every classroom

  • Classroom cleaning and disinfecting

  • Nutrition breaks will include outdoor opportunities for students, weather permitting


NEW: Why is the HDSB not mandating that students get vaccinated? Will the Board be requesting students disclose whether they are vaccinated?

Mandatory vaccines for school aged children fall under the Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA). At this time, the COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory for students to return to in-person learning in September. At this time there is no directive for the Ministry to request this information. When there is a confirmed case in the school, contact tracing by Public Health will confirm the vaccination status of students to determine who is required to continue to isolate or not.

I selected remote learning for my child in June and now want to switch to learning in-person (or vice versa). How can I switch at this time?

The Change in Learning Model Form was sent to families of elementary students (Kindergarten - Grade 8) on Sept. 9 and closed on Sept. 16. Students of families who completed this form will change learning models on Oct. 12.

In November, a process will be communicated to secondary school students regarding Semester 2 requests to switch learning models.

Can families switch learning models during the school year?

  • Elementary (Kindergarten - Grade 8): The Change in Learning Model Form was sent to families of elementary students on Sept. 9 and closed on Sept. 16. Students of families who completed this form will change learning models on Oct. 12.

  • Secondary (Grade 9 - 12): Students with compelling reasons to switch learning models at the end of the first Modified Semester (beginning of February) may be considered if timetables can be matched.​​

  • In situations with exceptional circumstances, families may switch learning models if space is available. Please contact your school Principal.

NEW: If families of elementary students choose to switch learning models (effective Oct. 12), how long will their child be learning in that model?

Students will remain in their chosen learning model until at least February 2022. Another switch opportunity has not been determined at this time.

If I register my child in Remote Learning in September but I decide to switch to in-person learning at one of the designated ‘switch’ times, will my child be enrolled back in their home school?

Yes.

NEW: If a student and their family travel outside Canada and return to the country with a negative COVID-19 test, when can the student return to school?

As of July 5, there is an exemption from the federal quarantine requirement for individuals who are fully vaccinated, with certain conditions. Details and guidance are provided as a link in the Government of Ontario online COVID-19 School Screening Tool. The screening tool will provide direction to families regarding when the student can return to school.

NEW: What is being done to improve ventilation in schools, especially in older buildings? Are you using MERV-13 filters?

The HDSB has completed an upgrade of filters on all HVAC equipment with MERV-13 filters. All schools/all systems have been reviewed and meet the expected ventilation standard. We have also programmed the HVAC building automation system to extend the length of time the air is being changed. For information about ventilation systems in the HDSB, view our Ventilation Information and FAQs webpage.

NEW: My child is in a portable. Can you please explain what has been done for ventilation in portables at HDSB? Are there any specific considerations for air quality, space for physical distancing, etc. in portables?

HDSB has more than 370 portables that are all equipped with individual and dedicated HVAC equipment providing heating, cooling, and fresh air. As part of our ongoing renewal programming and as part of the targeted funding through CVRIS, we have invested approximately $5.5M in ventilation upgrades to more than 185 portables at 40 school locations. In addition, we have included window upgrades for portables as part of this initiative to support student and staff safety and wellness. Portables are about 750 sq ft (about the same as a classroom) and therefore the same physical distancing approach will be used as in regular classrooms.

NEW: Will masks be required outside?

Students are not required to wear masks outdoors

NEW: If my child has COVID-19 symptoms, does their vaccinated sibling need to stay home from school or go home from school if they become symptomatic during the school day?

If the vaccinated sibling does not have symptoms, they can attend school. The Government of Ontario online COVID-19 School Screening Tool will indicate this.

NEW: What Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will teachers be required to wear?

Medical masks are mandatory for all staff indoors. Staff are also provided eye protection (i.e., face shield/goggles/glasses) and are required to wear them based on their work task. Gloves and gowns are also provided to staff as required by the work they are doing. Employees wear PPE provided by the Board to ensure safety standards are met.

NEW: In rooms that are used by multiple cohorts, will surfaces be sanitized between cohorts?

There is no longer a requirement to sanitize rooms between cohorts. The focus will continue on physical distancing, masking, regular hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette to reduce the risk of infection.

NEW: Will volunteers be permitted inside the school this year?

At this time, parent/guardian volunteers will not be working in classrooms. That being said, schools have volunteers that support other non-classroom functions in the school such as food security programs. Last week, the Ministry of Education introduced a vaccination disclosure policy. We are awaiting further guidelines regarding these vaccination and attestation requirements from the Ministry of Education for volunteers. Schools will communicate the process and requirements for volunteering when it becomes available.

NEW: The provincial direction for secondary students is that they are in two cohorts (one in the morning, one in the afternoon). Does the HDSB Modified Semester Model meet provincial requirements and is it safe?

In May, school boards were asked to adopt secondary timetabling methods that emphasize cohorting and limit schedules to two in-person classes per day. The Modified Semester Model does adhere to an emphasis on cohorting by week. As with many boards across the province using the modified semester, this model required approval by the Ministry of Education in consultation with Halton Region Public Health.

NEW: The TDSB announced that mandatory proof of vaccine will be required for all staff, trustees and visitors. Is HDSB considering doing the same?

The HDSB is currently focused on implementing the requirements in relation to vaccination disclosure. With respect to mandatory vaccination, these discussions have not occurred.

NEW: Can I find out if my child’s teacher is vaccinated?

No, however the Ontario government announced on Aug. 17, 2021 that a vaccination disclosure policy for school board staff will be in place for September 2021. This vaccine disclosure policy applies only to staff, it does not include students. However, to learn how many HDSB employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19, please visit the COVID-19 Vaccination Disclosure page of our website.

Why is the HDSB requiring masks for Kindergarten students?

The HDSB continues to follow direction and take recommendations from Halton Region Public Health. The masking of Kindergarten students beginning September 2021 was recommended by Halton Region Public Health. Please view the Masking section of the September 2021 Plan for further information.


The HDSB Facilities Department is making the placement of air purifiers in Kindergarten classrooms a priority for this Fall.

What is the process that will be followed by schools if a child is symptomatic or there is a confirmed case in the school?

The HDSB will follow the guidance in the Management of COVID-19 in schools document provided by the Ministry of Education. Please view the COVID-19 Symptoms - Guidelines for Parents/Guardians for further information.

How will I know if there is a COVID-19 case in my child’s classroom or in other classrooms?

If there is a COVID-19 case (or suspected case) in your child’s classroom, Public Health will determine if the case was in the building during their period of communicability and engage in contact tracing processes (including contacting families as required). Parents/guardians in the class will receive an email from the school Principal with an accompanying letter from Halton Region Public Health with instructions for next steps if there is a high risk determination by Public Health. COVID-19 cases in all schools will be posted on the HDSB COVID-19 Advisory on the HDSB website (www.hdsb.ca). Parents/guardians should check the COVID-19 Advisory for the most up to date information for their child’s school. Beginning September 2021, the HDSB will no longer notify parents/guardians via email of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in their child’s school.

NEW: My child’s class was directed to self-isolate. Why isn’t this indicated as a class closure on the HDSB COVID-19 Advisory on the website?

Effective Sept. 16, 2021, as directed by the Ministry of Education, closed classes will only be reported on the HDSB COVID-19 Advisory in the event that the entire class, including staff, are​ directed by Public Health to self-isolate (i.e., one or more individuals meet the requirements to continue in person).​ This is not reported as a Class Closure because students and staff who are vaccinated or have had COVID-19 in the last 90 days can attend school. Other scenarios include if a student or staff member was absent during the time of exposure.

How will teachers handle the possible negative impact/reaction from classmates toward students who are not vaccinated?

Teachers are trained in bullying prevention strategies to ensure all students are provided a welcome and supportive learning environment. If you have concerns, please speak with your child’s teacher directly.

What will the elementary learning model look like (Kindergarten - Grade 8)?

In-Person Learning Model

  • Students learn in person following the regular school hours and schedule at their home school.

  • When possible, and in accordance with Ministry guidance, students learning in-person will be able to participate in school clubs and teams.


Remote Learning Model​

  • Students will learn fully online.

  • Remote learning classes may or may not be at your child’s home school. When not in their home school, they will be transferred to another school.

  • School start and end times will be confirmed before the start of school in September by the school hosting the remote learning class.

  • Remote learning will be taught by staff who may not be from your home school.

  • Students from multiple schools may be assigned to the same remote learning class.

  • Students will be required to participate online using technology in real-time during the school day (180 minutes for Kindergarten; 225 minutes for Grade 1 - 8). The remainder of the day will be independent learning.

  • An opportunity to switch learning models will be provided for elementary students via a form that will be sent to families September 9 - 16. This change will be effective October 12 and a second potential opportunity at the end of January at the request of parents/guardians, if necessary. ​​



The process to register for the Remote Learning Model has passed. Please contact your school if you have questions.

What will the secondary learning model look like (Grade 9-12)?

All HDSB schools will follow a Modified Semester Model in September 2021. Students will take two courses per day. However, in this Modified Semester Model, students will take a total of four (4) courses over the 20 week semester. Students will alternate by taking two (2) courses for one week, then two other courses for the next week. Students will attend school 150 minutes each morning followed by 150 minutes each afternoon. See sample schedule below.


This model will be followed by students whether they are attending school in-person or remotely in the Virtual Secondary School. It has been approved by the Ministry of Education after con​sultation with Halton Region Public Health.


Modified Semester Model

Two periods per day, each period is 150 minutes in length.


View Modified Semester Model Sample Schedule


Note: In this model, students will not be able to switch between remote learning and in-person learning until the end of the first semester in January 2022, and, provided timetables can be matched.​


In-Person Learning Model

  • Students attend in person for the full day, five days per week, following the regular start and end times at their home school.

  • When possible, and in accordance with Ministry guidance, students learning in-person will be able to participate in school clubs and teams.


Remote Learning Model

  • Students will learn fully online.

  • School start and end times will be confirmed before the start of school in September by the HDSB Virtual Secondary School.

  • Remote learning will be taught by staff who may not be from the home secondary school.

  • Students from multiple schools will be assigned to the same class.

  • The following specialized optional programs will not be offered virtually: Accelerated Learning Program, International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, LEAP and I-STEM.

  • Students learning remotely will not be permitted to participate at their home school in-person school clubs or teams.

  • Note: This message does not apply to Gary Allan High School students. Students/families will receive messaging directly from the Gary Allan Learning Centre main office.


The process to register for the Remote Learning Model has passed. Please contact your school if you have questions.

Learning (Kindergarten to Grade 12)

What will the elementary learning model look like (Kindergarten - Grade 8)?

In-Person Learning Model

  • Students learn in person following the regular school hours and schedule at their home school.

  • When possible, and in accordance with Ministry guidance, students learning in-person will be able to participate in school clubs and teams.


Remote Learning Model​

  • Students will learn fully online.

  • Remote learning classes may or may not be at your child’s home school. When not in their home school, they will be transferred to another school.

  • School start and end times will be confirmed before the start of school in September by the school hosting the remote learning class.

  • Remote learning will be taught by staff who may not be from your home school.

  • Students from multiple schools may be assigned to the same remote learning class.

  • Students will be required to participate online using technology in real-time during the school day (180 minutes for Kindergarten; 225 minutes for Grade 1 - 8). The remainder of the day will be independent learning.

  • An opportunity to switch learning models will be provided for elementary students via a form that will be sent to families September 9 - 16. This change will be effective October 12 and a second potential opportunity at the end of January at the request of parents/guardians, if necessary. ​​


The process to register for the Remote Learning Model has passed. Please contact your school if you have questions.



What will the secondary learning model look like (Grade 9-12)?

All HDSB schools will follow a Modified Semester Model in September 2021. Students will take two courses per day. However, in this Modified Semester Model, students will take a total of four (4) courses over the 20-week semester. Students will alternate by taking two (2) courses for one week, then two other courses for the next week. Students will attend school 150 minutes each morning followed by 150 minutes each afternoon. See sample schedule below.


This model will be followed by students whether they are attending school in-person or remotely in the Virtual Secondary School. It has been approved by the Ministry of Education after con​sultation with Halton Region Public Health.


Modified Semester Model

Two periods per day, each period is 150 minutes in length.


View Modified Semester Model Sample Schedule

Note: In this model, students will not be able to switch between remote learning and in-person learning until the end of the first semester, and, provided timetables can be matched.​


In-Person Learning Model

  • Students attend in person for the full day, five days per week, following the regular start and end times at their home school.

  • When possible, and in accordance with Ministry guidance, students learning in-person will be able to participate in school clubs and teams.


Remote Learning Model

  • Students will learn fully online.

  • School start and end times will be confirmed before the start of school in September by the HDSB Virtual Secondary School.

  • Remote learning will be taught by staff who may not be from the home secondary school.

  • Students from multiple schools will be assigned to the same class.

  • The following specialized optional programs will not be offered virtually: Accelerated Learning Program, International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, LEAP and I-STEM.

  • Students learning remotely will not be permitted to participate at their home school in-person school clubs or teams.

NEW: Will outdoor eating be prioritized for those under 12 as long as weather permits?

Nutrition breaks include an outdoor and an indoor portion. Most students will be eating indoors. Having all students eating outdoors would be logistically challenging because of the space needed for all cohorts to be organized to eat comfortably and safely. Student learning outside will continue to be a focus for schools.

NEW: Can you explain how a student who must isolate for 10 days would still be learning?

Staff will continue to provide instruction for students when students are not in attendance. Where an entire class is isolating, instruction will be provided synchronously (real-time). Where some students are isolating, instruction may be synchronous, asynchronous or a combination. The teacher will communicate what this learning will look like. This applies for elementary and secondary students.

NEW: What will music class look like this year?

Music programs will proceed this year with an emphasis on as much distancing as possible. Singing will occur both indoors and outdoors. Singing indoors without masks is permitted if adequate distancing can be achieved. The use of instruments indoors will occur within a cohort with a minimum distance of two metres. The use of instruments may occur outdoors in mixed cohorts with distancing as well.

NEW: What will phys ed look like this year?

In both elementary and secondary school, physical education classes will be outdoors when possible. Gymnasiums, swimming pools, change rooms and fitness rooms will also be used with distancing. Masking is not required when engaging in activities outdoors. Masks will be worn indoors when they can be worn safely based on the activity.

NEW: Will Kindergarten students be required to stay in table groups within their class again this year?

Kindergarten students will not be in small groups. The cohort size for Kindergarten students is their class, as is the case with all other elementary (Kindergarten - Grade 8) classes.

NEW: How will you ensure reading skills development and proper speaking and enunciation while the teacher and students are all wearing masks?

Language instruction involves many strategies which certainly include lots of speaking and listening. It is true that wearing masks poses some challenges. However, teachers will use many visual strategies, small grouping, repetition, assessment for learning strategies and opportunities to learn outdoors without masks to meet the needs of learners with respect to their reading and oral language development.

NEW: Will there be exams for secondary students this school year? How will the HDSB ensure exams are fair for in-person and remote students?

The school year calendar provided by your school will show there are designated exam days at the end of the modified semester. These days will include components of the final 30% of a course grade. Students selecting remote learning will be assessed remotely. Students learning in person will be assessed in person. With either learning model, this final 30% takes a variety of formats. Instruction and assessment is designed by the teacher regardless of delivery format. This could include performance, written assignment, formal exam, presentation, etc. The final 30% is directed by the Ministry of Education for every course and the HDSB provides guidelines to staff.

NEW: What will lunch breaks look like for secondary students?

School based teams are working to develop plans for lunch at secondary school. Where cafeterias are part of the school plan, the school will adhere to 50% capacity limits. Tables will be spaced two metres apart. Other areas may also need to be designated. Students are also able to leave the school for lunch.

NEW: What is the reason we no longer have the dedicated virtual school for elementary students? How are you going to ensure remote learning is delivered effectively without a dedicated team on virtual learning this year?

We do not have dedicated virtual elementary schools because we can serve the students who are engaging in remote learning within the home school structure. We do have teachers that are dedicated to all our remote classes. Our School Programs Department will continue to support all staff with program delivery including those that are teaching remote learners.

NEW: Will students have access to lockers in school?

Lockers and cubbies can be used. Schools have teams that are planning for the many logistics throughout the day such as entry/exit and the use of lockers and cubbies.

NEW: Will there be any orientation activity for Grade 10 students learning in-person who haven’t yet been to their secondary school because they attended school remotely during Grade 9?

Secondary schools are looking at ways to welcome all students - new and returning. Orientation opportunities are planned at the school level and may be in-person or virtual. Please contact the secondary school for further information.

NEW: Will the HDSB supply technology (e.g., Chromebook, iPad, etc.) to students enrolled in remote learning?

Students in remote learning will require a stable internet connection and technology with audio and video capabilities. Students who do not have access to their own device will be provided with one. This will be supplied by their home school and must be returned when remote learning ends.


NEW: What if a school only has a few students from each grade attending remotely? Will students be placed in combined classes?

Wherever possible, students from the same grade and from the same school will be placed together in remote learning classes.

The class configurations will depend on how many students choose the remote learning model and in accordance with Ministry of Education mandated class sizes. Schools will have combined/split grades in both in-person and remote classes (as was the case in the 2020-2021 school year). Our classes will not include triple grading.

Parents/guardians can reach out to their home school principal to discuss further.

Mental Health & Well-Being

What mental health and well-being support is available to students?

  • Mental health and well-being information and resources for both parents/guardians and students are available on the HDSB Mental Health & Well-Being webpage

  • We’ve recently launched a mental health & well-being video series for parents/guardians that provide information about student mental health & well-being and how we work collaboratively with families to support students​

  • Staff are pulling together activities for building community

  • Child and Youth Counsellors (CYC) and Social Workers (SW) will be checking in with students during the first week of school

  • PA Days in September will focus on student mental health & well-being

  • Tools and strategies for identifying students who are struggling and in need of support will be in place

  • The HDSB will conduct an awareness campaign to make students and families aware of the support available

  • There will be increased monitoring and supporting of students during the school year. An effort to reduce barriers and stigma, and a self-referral process will be introduced.

  • Staff learning and the use of data will help us tailor our support



Special Education

Will students with special education needs be supported in the Remote Learning Model?

Our experience this year has shown that in-person learning is the best format to support students with special education needs, particularly those in self-contained classes and alternative education programs.


Students with special education needs will continue to be supported with the necessary accommodations, modifications, placements and programs provided in their Individual Education Plan (IEP), whether in in-person or remote learning.

NEW: If schools are closed, will parents of children with IEPs have the ability to attend in-person learning?

At this time, we have not been provided guidance from the Ministry of Education on system closures. We know from past school closures that students with significant special education needs who are unable to access the learning remotely were permitted to attend in person. Should another system closure occur, we will follow the Ministry’s guidance on how to support students with special education needs.

School/Community Partners

NEW: What kind of food programs will be allowed to resume?

Food programs may resume following Public Health, Ministry and HDSB protocols. Schools will make decisions about what programs may be resumed. Cafeteria services will resume in secondary schools. Lunch programs (such as pizza) are permitted and schools will follow the guidelines. We are currently working with our food security partners to support schools with “Grab and Go” food items to support students.

NEW: Will schools be allowed to fundraise this year?

Schools will be able to resume fundraising. Guidance has been provided to Principals regarding protocols for safe fundraising purposes.

Modified Semester Model for Secondary Students

Why has the HDSB opted for a Modified Semester Model for secondary school (Grade 9-12) in the 2021-2022 school year?

We believe the Modified Semester Model will be more supportive of student learning as it addresses student concerns about the pace and intensity of courses experienced this past school year in the Quadmester Model. This model will be followed by students whether they are attending school in-person or remotely in the Virtual Secondary School. It has been approved by the Ministry of Education after consultation with Halton Region Public Health.

Why can’t secondary schools return to the traditional semester structure with four courses every day?

We too would like to start the year with a traditional (pre-pandemic) semester model. As a Board, however, we have been directed by the Ministry of Education to limit the school day to two courses to reduce the daily contact between individuals and help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The direction to return to full-day (300 minutes) in-person learning for secondary students means that these two classes must be 150 minutes each.

Will the Modified Semester Model be changed if COVID-19/public health conditions improve?

Yes, we are following the Modified Semester Model because we are hopeful that a return to regular semesters can occur with improved health conditions. As the public health conditions improve, this model provides additional flexibility with a return to a regular (pre-pandemic) semester model. Should there be the ability to move to four courses in a day (regular semester), this can be done very quickly rather than waiting for the end of Quadmester 2 (in February 2022), if the Quadmester Model was followed again. Each period would then be 75 minutes as in a regular semester.

Will the workload for students be heavier with the Modified Semester Model?

The Modified Semester Model is intended to spread the four-course workload over a whole semester and we believe it is a better model for continuity of learning. The amount of learning and pace will be more aligned with a regular semester. We also recognize the alternate week approach does come with its challenges, however, the intent is to focus on the two courses only for the courses for the week.

We will provide parameters on student workload to our students, staff and families to ensure homework and assignments are balanced from one week to the next.

We recognize there is no one model that works best for all students but feel this model addresses the concerns raised by students and families about the previous Quadmester model, and allows schools to quickly pivot to a regular semester when we are permitted to do so.


Please view the June 4 and June 8 letters to secondary students and families from Stuart Miller, former Director of Education for the HDSB, regarding the secondary model for September 2021 for more information.

Why was the Modified Semester Model developed?

The development of the Modified Semester Model was in response to both student and staff feedback on the Quadmester experience in the 2020-2021 school year and to provide a secondary model that adheres to current requirements set up by Public Health and the Government of Ontario.

The Modified Semester Model provides:

  • a better balance of course loads for students with four classes at once (e.g., compulsory and elective courses)

  • reduction of time and learning loss between successive courses. For example a student has Math in Quad 1 in one year and Quad 4 the following year has a large gap between courses. The modified semester model reduces this.

  • there is less impact per course for students who are absent due to illness in a 10-week vs. 20-week course (absences balanced more equally across all courses) with this model.

  • students benefit from official midterm marks and all marks being submitted to College and University application centres for early admissions, scholarships, etc.

  • for student achievement and well-being reasons, students with purposeful timetables (e.g., spares, General Learning Strategies courses, resource periods, etc.), benefit with having one of these periods to support a full course load (e.g., 4 courses in a semester).



Will the Modified Semester Model be the timetable model for secondary schools after the pandemic is over?

No. We will move back to a traditional semester model for our secondary schools as soon as we are able, in accordance with Public Health and the Government of Ontario direction.

NEW: What needs to happen in order for secondary schools to follow a normal semester model? Is it based on the vaccination rate or something else?

This is a decision that would be made by the Ministry of Education and dependent on the public health conditions that would eliminate the need to cohort students.

Information Session for HDSB Families

The HDSB held a September 2021 Information Session (online) for families on Aug. 26, 2021 with Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Commissioner and Medical Officer of Health, Halton Region, along with senior Halton District School Board staff to answer questions submitted by families. A recorded version of this information session is available, with closed captioning.

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