Important health and safety information as we head back to school
August 20, 2021
*Updated Sept. 1, 2021
The Upper Grand District School Board is working hard to ensure health and safety protocols are in place at all schools as we welcome everyone back this fall.
Families are asked to review the full guide, as well as the highlights below as they prepare to return to school.
What’s New? What Stays the Same?
While there will be some changes to protocols and permitted activities for the 2021-22 school year, many health and safety protocols will remain in place.
Measures that will continue:
- Schools will employ multiple protective strategies to support healthier and safer environments for students and staff.
- The UGDSB will continue to require that students in all grades (Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12+) follow masking requirements in school and on school vehicles.
- All students will be required to screen for COVID-19 daily before leaving for school.
- Schools will continue to follow school arrival and departure procedures that support physical distancing where possible.
- To start the school year, only essential visitors will be permitted in UGDSB schools.
- Schools will continue to require proper hand hygiene protocols are in place and followed.
- Schools will continue to promote as much physical distancing between students, between students and staff, and between staff members.
- Schools will continue to follow the program for enhancing cleaning and disinfecting of schools, which includes twice daily cleaning and disinfecting of high touch surfaces.
- The management of COVID-19 cases in schools will continue to be done by Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, and the board will continue to follow the direction and guidance of WDGPH.
New this year:
- Students do not need to stay within their classroom cohort outdoors, but distancing and masking will be required if students are interacting with students from a different class outdoors.
- Masks are not required to be worn outdoors when students are interacting with students in their class, but physical distancing is encouraged.
- Different classes will be able to use shared spaces this year, such as technology labs, learning commons and cafeterias, following restrictions around scheduling use and distancing.
- Many activities will be permitted to run this year, as long as health and safety requirements can be maintained, such as clubs and extra-curricular activities. Schools will communicate with families directly on available activities, as the year progresses.
Health and Safety Enhancements
The UGDSB is continuing its work optimizing air quality in classrooms and learning environments through improving ventilation and filtration. Upgrades to ventilation and filtration systems began in the 2020-21 school year and will continue for the 2021-22 school year.
All UGDSB schools have full or partial mechanical ventilation, with the vast majority of schools having full mechanical ventilation.
In addition to the provincial requirements of placing standalone High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration units in all classrooms and learning spaces without mechanical ventilation and in each kindergarten classroom, the UGDSB will go beyond the provincial requirements by placing a HEPA unit in every classroom in Grades 1-8 as well classrooms that run the UGDSB’s life skills (Developmentally Delayed) classes (elementary and secondary).
As an additional measure beyond the provincial requirements for ventilation, the UGDSB will be conducting carbon dioxide (CO2) testing in schools. This process was started in the 2020-21 school year and will be continued in the 2021-22 school year. In order to ensure that the ventilation system is working properly and to find out where we may have to supplement air quality by providing filtration equipment (e.g. HEPA filtration units), the UGDSB is choosing to actively measure the CO2 levels in classrooms while they are occupied.
For detailed information about the health and safety measures and enhancements in the UGDSB, please refer to the full Student and Family Guide at www.ugdsb.ca/2021. Additional information will be added as it becomes available.
The UGDSB’s Priorities for 2021-22
The priority of the UGDSB has always been the safety and well-being of students and staff – that will continue to be our priority. Safety and well-being in the time of COVID has very specific requirements to ensure safe learning and working environments. The focus of the board for the fall will be to get students back in school. While the provincial guidance allows for many school activities to run this year, please note that not all activities will begin right away in UGDSB schools. This includes things such as field trips, inter-school sports, and non-essential visitors in schools. These areas are explained in more detail in the board’s School Operations Guide for 2021-22. The board will continue to consult with Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health and schools will communicate to their school communities throughout the year when changes are permitted.
Another area of well-being and a priority to the board is the commitment we have to equity and to addressing the gaps in student learning that exist due to system and historic barriers, while addressing the need for equitable outcomes and the equitable allocation of resources.
We will also have a strong focus on student mental health, providing supports in our schools and continuing to collaborate with our community partners in mental health and wellness.
These are just some of our priorities that are top of mind as schools prepare to reopen.
We can’t wait to welcome everyone back this fall!