The following is an overview of some of the additional updates and changes affecting schools and families across the province as we prepare for students to return to in-person learning on January 17.
The changes are a result of new directives and/or guidance from Ontario’s Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health. Links to available documents and resources are available at the end of this update.
Schools are required to complete daily on-site confirmation of screening for all students and staff.
The COVID-19 screening tool has been updated to reflect the most current health and testing guidance and is required for all students and staff. Anyone who has symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 or is a confirmed positive case must self-isolate, regardless of vaccination status
Keeping Schools Open
The Ministry of Education has directed school boards to minimize school disruption and keep schools open.
Public health units will no longer be asking classes to isolate due to a positive case. However, in the event of high absenteeism, classes and/or schools may need pivot to remote learning to ensure the safety of students and staff.
Schools will be providing two rapid antigen tests (RATs) per person. The tests are to be used only when an individual is symptomatic.
If two consecutive RATs, separated by 24-48 hours, are both negative, the symptomatic individual is less likely to have COVID-19, and should isolate until symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms are present).
Isolation RequirementsIf you or someone in your household is experiencing symptom(s) listed in the provincial screening tool, presume they have COVID-19.
All household members of a symptomatic individual, regardless of vaccination status, should isolate while the symptomatic individual is isolating due to the high rate of transmission that may occur within households.
Please note: the following is a broad overview of the isolation requirements.
Please review COVID-19 Integrated Testing & Case, Contact and Outbreak Management Interim Guidance: Omicron Surge for more detailed information.
Where an individual has only one of the following symptoms, or a different symptom (e.g., pink eye), the individual should isolate until symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms are present), and household members are not required to isolate: runny nose/nasal congestion; headache; extreme fatigue; sore throat; muscle aches/joint pain; gastrointestinal symptoms (i.e. vomiting or diarrhea).
Positive COVID-19 Test (PCR, rapid molecular, or rapid antigen)
- Ages 12+ AND fully vaccinated: isolate for at least 5 days from symptom onset AND until their symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms are present), whichever is longer in duration.
- Ages 12+ AND partially vaccinated or unvaccinated: isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, or from the date of their test (whichever came sooner).
- Ages 11- (regardless of their vaccination status): isolate for at least 5 days from symptom onset AND until their symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms are present), whichever is longer in duration.
Negative COVID-19 Test
- PCR Test: stay home until their symptom(s) have been improving for 24 hours (48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms are present).
- Rapid Antigen Tests: if there are two consecutive negative RATs, separated by 24-48 hours, COVID-19 is less likely. Isolate until symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms are present).
Please note: these isolation requirements are current as of January 14, 2022 and may change.
High-Risk Contact Clarification
Individuals only exposed at school with all public health measures in place are not generally considered high-risk contacts.
Where a student or staff member has been advised from a case that they may have been exposed to a positive case of COVID-19 at school, they should monitor for symptoms and seek testing if eligible/available. If the contact does not have symptoms, has not been advised to isolate due to an exposure to a case/symptomatic individual in the community, and continues to pass the COVID-19 School and Child Care Screening, they may continue to attend school.
Depending on the nature and frequency of the interactions, specific individuals could be considered a high-risk contact (e.g., close unprotected contact). All cases should notify high-risk contacts of their exposure. Again, individuals only exposed at school with all public health measures in place are not generally considered high-risk contacts.
School Vaccine Clinics – Parental Consent Required
School boards have been asked to add vaccine clinics during the school day as well as before and after school hours.
Schools will distribute consent forms to parents and work with health units to identify schools that would be good candidates for clinics, based on student vaccination rates and parent consent rates. More information about specific clinic locations and dates will be sent to families in the future.
Inclement Weather Reminder
Inclement weather (snow, fog, freezing rain) can have an effect on transportation and school operations in the LDCSB:
- Transportation: The decision to delay or cancel school transportation is made as early as possible (usually by 6 am) by Southwestern Ontario Student Transportation Services and is communicated through their website (mybigyellowbus.ca), social media outlets, the Bus Planner app and email.
- School Buildings: All LDCSB schools will normally remain open even if school transportation is delayed or cancelled. It is very rare for schools to close. If schools are to close, the decision will usually be made by 6:30 am and communicated via our website (ldcsb.ca), social media outlets, SchoolMessenger (families), email (staff) and local media.
- Reporting Absences: if school transportation is cancelled and parents decide to keep their child(ren) at home, absences must be created in SchoolMessenger.
- Transportation Cancellation: if transportation is cancelled and schools remain open, learning will continue at the school. Students are encouraged to try to get to school, if it is safe to do so.
- Closed Schools: on the rare occasion school(s) are closed due to inclement weather, students should take this opportunity to complete current work or assignments; or prepare for upcoming assignments, quizzes or tests.
Request to Change Student Mode of Learning
The LDCSB’s virtual schools are at full capacity and are closed for new registrations.
Students who have medical documentation to support an exceptional circumstance which does not allow them to participate in in-person learning are to contact their home school principal.
Short-term accommodations through Remote Learning Packages can be made available to students through the classroom teacher (see Short-Term At-Home Learning section). These are short-term accommodations and are designed to be temporary and to assist students from falling behind in their schoolwork. Synchronous learning opportunities will not be provided as part of these packages.
Short-Term At-Home Learning
Short-Term Remote Learning Packages will be made available as independent, asynchronous learning opportunities.
These packages are for those students who fail the self-screener due to illness and remain at home as well as for families who do not feel comfortable sending their child back to in-person learning immediately on January 17.
These are short-term accommodations and are designed to be temporary and to assist students from falling behind in their schoolwork. All Remote Learning Packages will be housed through the classroom VLE and contain work to be completed independently by the student.
The Federal and Provincial governments have invested millions of dollars for the return to in-person learning, not to expand the remote-learning experience. The goal is to have all students return to their in-person learning environment as soon as possible.
Short-Term Remote Learning Packages are available for up to a maximum of 15 days, beginning January 17. Students will be marked absent from school during this time and are expected to return by February 7.
COVID Case Notification
COVID case notification from schools on behalf of health units will no longer occur.
Given the widespread transmission and inability to test all symptomatic individuals, schools will not be routinely notifying students/pupils in classes with a positive case, or if a child/student or staff is absent due to symptoms associated with COVID-19.
Links to Resources