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.

Quick Menu

FAQs

COVID-19/Health & Safety

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


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.

NEW: 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 changed learning models on Oct. 12.

For secondary students who wish to switch learning models in Semester 2 (effective Feb. 7, 2022), the Change in Learning Model Form is available Nov. 22 - Dec. 1, 2021.

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 changed learning models on Oct. 12.

  • Secondary (Grade 9-12): Secondary students who would like to switch learning models in Semester 2 (effective Feb. 7, 2022) must complete the Change in Learning Model Form between Nov. 22 - Dec. 1, 2021.

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

NEW: Will another opportunity to switch learning models (in-person/remote) be provided to families of elementary students (K - Grade 8)?

Families of students who would like to switch learning models (in-person/remote) should contact their school principal.

Will masks be required outside?

Students are not required to wear masks outdoors

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.



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

Effective Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, all secondary schools in the HDSB will change to a four-course per day schedule. A four-course per day schedule is referred to as a traditional Semester Model. The timing of this change for Monday, Nov. 29 ensures we will keep the balance between Week 1 and Week 2 courses.

As you know, since September 2021, HDSB schools have followed the Modified Semester Model as well as offered co-curricular activities for students learning in-person. Given the high rates of vaccination among youth aged 12 to 17 and the diligence among students and staff in practising COVID-19 health and safety protocols, we have seen a reduction in the number and frequency of COVID-19 cases among secondary school students, and we are now able to safely move to a Semester Model. This decision is in accordance with Ministry of Education requirements and has been made with consultation from Halton Region Public Health.

As a reminder, families of secondary students who wish to switch learning models (in-person/remote) in Semester 2 (effective Feb. 7, 2022) must complete the Change in Learning Model Form between Nov. 22 - Dec. 1, 2021.

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.

  • The elective courses on the student’s current timetable may not be available. The designated home school will work with students to find alternate elective courses and this is likely to result in a change in timetable placement of all courses.

  • Students learning in-person will be able to participate in school clubs and teams at their home school.

  • Students are required to complete daily self-screening using the Government of Ontario’s COVID-19 School Screening Tool prior to arriving at school each day.


Remote Learning Model

  • Students will learn fully online.

  • School start and end times will follow the HDSB Virtual Secondary School schedule.

  • The elective courses on the student’s current timetable may not be available. The Virtual Secondary School will work with students to find alternate elective courses which may result in a change in timetable placement of all courses.

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

  • A full complement of French Immersion and Gifted cluster courses may not be available in changing learning models.

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

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

  • Students in their graduating year will graduate from their designated home school (if applicable).

  • Students attending the Virtual Secondary School must be residents of and be living in Halton.

  • Students will be removed from the current transportation route (if applicable).

NEW: Why has the HDSB decided to change to a traditional Semester Model in late November and not wait until Semester 2 in February?

We understand the announcement of this change to a Semester Model next week has impacted the lives of some of our students. Be assured that our staff will ensure the transition to the four-course per day model is handled with sensitivity to these impacts. The mental health and well-being of our students and staff remains our highest priority.


In the Spring, we received significant feedback and advocacy from students in opposition of the Modified Semester Model and we continue to receive concerns from families and staff about the Modified Semester Model.


When the HDSB made the decision in Spring 2021 for secondary schools to follow a Modified Semester Model in September 2021 it was in response to government and public health requirements to limit contact between multiple classes. It was always our intention to move to a traditional Semester Model as soon as it was safe to do so. As communicated at that time, being able to pivot quickly to a traditional four-course day was the reason why the Modified Semester Model was chosen for Fall 2021.


The rationale for making this change effective on Monday, Nov. 29 is to keep the Week 1 and Week 2 class time balanced. Waiting another two weeks would mean a change effective Dec. 13, the last week prior to the winter break, which would not optimize the time available to implement the Semester Model.


Please notify your teacher or principal of any questions or concerns you have about the transition to the Semester Model on Monday, Nov. 29.

NEW: How does the Semester Model change on Monday, Nov. 29 impact students in the Virtual School - Secondary (VSS)?

All HDSB secondary schools (in-person and virtual) will change to a four-course per day schedule on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Quick Menu