Board Meeting Highlights for September 2021
For Immediate Release
September 29, 2021
GUELPH, Ontario – The September meeting of the Upper Grand District School Board was held on September 28, 2021. The following provides highlights from the meeting.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Presentation
Dr. Matthew Tenenbaum, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health’s Associate Medical Officer of Health, gave a presentation offering updates on the current COVID-19 situation in our community. Dr. Tenenbaum shared information across several topics, including COVID-19 community transmission and the Delta variant, progress made in the local COVID-19 vaccine roll-out program, information on COVID-19 vaccines and children, and continued measures to control COVID-19 vaccines in school. Dr. Tenenbaum continued to advise that Public Health’s approach to controlling COVID-19 in schools and in the community is a to have multiple layers of protection, including masking, physical distancing, ventilation and vaccines. All these things work together so that if there is a gap in one layer, the other layers continue to offer protection.
Monthly COVID-19 Report
COVID-19 Management in Schools
Staff presented the monthly COVID-19 Report. This month’s report began by summarizing the COVID-19 situation in UGDSB schools. Staff described Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) changes to self-isolation requirements introduced this year, depending on an individual’s vaccination status. WDGPH has also recently made changes to the self-isolation requirements for siblings of high-risk contacts, as well as the process for dismissing those Public Health determines to be high-risk contacts in a given case. These changes are outlined on Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health’s website.
Vaccination Disclosure Process
The report also covered the implementation of the board’s vaccination disclosure process for staff, trustees, essential visitors including third party vendors, as well as the rapid testing process for staff. All UGDSB staff and trustees are required to complete COVID attestation form and disclosure their vaccination status. Staff and trustees who are not fully vaccinated are required to complete regular rapid antigen testing (twice weekly), with kits provided to staff, as well as complete a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination educational session.
The presentation also included data on the number of staff/trustees to whom this policy applies, as well as the numbers on the number of staff who fully or partially vaccinated. The board continues to report this data on the board website.
In addition to staff and trustees, essential visitors and third party vendors are also part of the board’s vaccination disclosure process. Essential visitors include, but are not limited to, emergency supply staff, parent/guardian visitors, and food nutrition volunteers. Essential visitors must provide proof of full vaccination before entering a board school/site and follow the board’s established process.
All vendors and third-party agency staff who attend school and board buildings must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In order to ensure the safety of everyone in UGDSB buildings and the continuity of learning, some exceptions to these procedures may be granted on a case-by-case basis. In these situations, every effort will be made to ensure that vendors and third-party agency staff access UGDSB sites outside of regular business hours when possible, and avoid contact with students and/or staff.
Staff provided an update on student transportation, which is provided through Wellington-Dufferin Student Transportation Services, the Transportation Consortium that provides student transportation to the five school boards in our region. Staff reported that the majority of school bus routes are running on time, with delays in routes being caused by traffic disruptions, road construction and in some cases driver shortages. Overall, the availability of bus drivers is limited, however the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph region has not faced the same shortages as other areas in the province. Bus operators continue to recruit and train additional drivers.
Mentally Healthy Classrooms
Mental health was the priority as schools reopened and staff welcomed students back to our schools. September has focused on ensuring that all staff and educators are welcoming students with an awareness of the diverse and unique experiences they have had through this pandemic. Staff have ensured that teachers have the tools to embed classroom wellness practices that support safety and a sense of community – both of which are supporting overall safe spaces for all. This is reflected in the board’s year-round focus on mental health and the Wellness Works initiative. The board provided in-person, in-classroom supports to transition students throughout the first two weeks of school and supported both their wellness and their familiarity with, understanding of, and reactions to various COVID-19 protocols. Additional information about mentally healthy classrooms will be shared at the October 5 Program Committee Meeting.
Staff provided updated information related to the ventilation work and enhancements continuing in the UGDSB. Ventilation is one of the key layers in a multi-layered approach for enhancing safety in UGDSB schools.
The report details the ongoing work of the UGDSB Ventilation Committee, including the nine goals the committee established prior to the start of the 2021-22 school year and updates on the work completed for each goal to date. Updates include the distribution of additional HEPA filtration units for classrooms, all of which have been acquired and distributed according to the UGDBS’s enhanced plan for air filiation, and CO2 testing, which the UGDSB is implementing as an additional health and safety measure. Staff also provided updates on completing several Ministry of Education requirements around ventilation, including the Ministry checklist for reopening schools, and the Standardized School Ventilation Measures Report. To view the full report, please visit the UGDSB website.
The next regular monthly meeting will be held on Tuesday October 26, 2021. Meeting details will be posted online at https://www.ugdsb.ca/board/board-meetings/.
About the Upper Grand District School Board
The Upper Grand District School Board serves more than 35,000 students through 65 elementary schools and 11 secondary schools in the City of Guelph, County of Wellington and County of Dufferin. The UGDSB covers the ancestral and traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Six Nations of the Grand River, and Saugeen Ojibway Nation Territories. Student success is the goal of over 4,000 dedicated teaching and support staff who are aided by the contributions of caring volunteers and community partners.
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