The health and safety of all students, staff and school communities is our top priority. As with all public health matters, the Upper Grand District School Board works closely with Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health and other health agencies to monitor and address concerns, and that is the case with COVID-19. Public Health is sharing information with the public on COVID-19, including how the virus spreads, symptoms of the virus and who is most at risk of infection.
Due to the rapidly evolving nature of the situation, please visit wdgpublichealth.ca/coronavirus for the most recent updates.
Do you have questions about COVID-19?
WDG Public Health has a call centre phone line to respond to community inquiries about COVID-19. If you have questions, please call WDG Public Health at 1-800-265-7293 ext. 7006. This line is open from 9am to 4 pm weekdays and from 9am to 3pm on weekends. For more information please visit wdgpublichealth.ca/coronavirus.
COVID-19: Information and Resources
- School Closures FAQ
- Learning at Home
- Mental Health Resources
- Travel Information
- Proactive Measures
- Additional Resources
All UGDSB schools are closed
The province has ordered that in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all schools in Ontario will remain closed until at least May 1 for staff and May 4 for students. The provincial government said it is prepared to extend the school closures even further if required.
In addition to schools being closed, the following are cancelled/closed for the duration of the school closure:
- Community Use of Schools
- Before and After School Programs
- Child Care Centres that operate in our schools or on board property
- The Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) scheduled for March 31, 2020. There is currently no alternative date
- EQAO assessments scheduled during the remainder of the school year
- All UGDSB office sites are closed to the public
- The Terry James Resource Centre is closed
- All UGDSB playgrounds are closed
UGDSB Learning at Home
On March 31, the province announced that all schools would remain closed until at least May 4 and that school boards would soon begin distance learning programs for their students.
The Upper Grand District School Board has launched Learning at Home, the board’s distance learning program, which provides teacher-led instruction to UGDSB students, assisted by our support staff.
Teachers will use various forms of communication to deliver a teacher-led distance learning model of instruction that focuses on ongoing connections with students for the duration of the closure.
The UGDSB Learning at Home program will evolve in stages. As we work through the process of developing systems for Learning at Home within the UGDSB community, we want families to know that we are very aware this will be a challenging time for some of our students.
We have been strategically looking at how best to support our students’ learning needs as well as their mental health and well-being with recognition that distance learning is not ideal for every student or an option for everyone.
We thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we continue to evolve our plan and transition our students and staff to a distance learning model.
Resources for students with special education needs
Individual Education Plans (IEPs) remain in full effect. Teachers will be providing accommodations to the greatest extent possible in order to accommodate students with IEPs.
Special Education Resource Teachers (SERTs) will be supporting students and classroom teachers during this closure period in the areas of instruction, assessment and evaluation. Parents are encouraged to contact their child’s classroom teacher(s) or SERT(s) if they have any questions or concerns. Schools are actively working on innovative and creative ways to deliver, support and instruction to our students in our Specialized Class Placements and more information will be coming to families in the coming days. The board is actively planning ways to ensure that students have access to SEA technology devices.
Access to technology, internet and printed materials
The UGDSB fully recognizes that not all students have reliable devices or internet connectivity. During the week of March 30 to April 3, classroom teachers reached out to families to collect information regarding their technological needs. The school board is currently working on a plan to supply students with a device should they need one. Students who indicated that they require a device will be contacted by their school in the coming days. The board is also exploring alternate ways of accessing the internet in areas where it is limited or not available.
Teachers will use the communication method that is accessible to both themselves and each student. Teachers will also make accommodations to deliver and receive instruction and assessment in hard copy format if necessary for those students who require it.
Number of Hours for Student Work
Method of Instruction
Literacy & Math
Teachers will provide links to materials or share materials directly using Google Classroom, Google Sites, Brightspace (D2L) or direct emailing of lessons to parents.
Resources will include links to videos, graphic organizers, and texts/reading material for students. The resources will vary between classes depending on content that needs to be covered.
In cases where online learning is not possible, arrangements will be made to have lessons directly mailed to families.
Literacy, Math, Science and Social Studies
Literacy, Math, Science and Social Studies
3 hours* of work per course per week for semestered student
*The hours refer to an approximate minimum amount of time students would spend on the work assigned by teachers.
For additional information regarding Learning at Home for elementary and secondary students, please visit the board website: https://www.ugdsb.ca/blog/learning-at-home-information-for-students-and-parents-april-6-2020/
Links and Resources
Mental Health Resources during COVID-19
The safety and well-being of our students, their families and staff are our top priority. We are all faced with uncertainty during this time of social distancing and self isolation. It is important to monitor and take care of our mental health. We have prepared some resources to help with managing difficult conversations and supporting overall mental health during these difficult times.
If this is an emergency, call 911. If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs help:
- Guelph/Wellington: 1 844 437 3247 (HERE247)
- Dufferin: 519 941 1530 (DCAFS)
- KidsHelpPhone: 1 800 668 6868
Supporting your anxious child/ren:
Be patient. Stay calm. Reassure. Provide relevant information and clarity.
Go to reputable sources for information and updates:
Routines provide predictability and can be very supportive for those struggling to cope. Routines can include things such as learning, self care, creativity, and physical activity.
Make yourself available and remain calm:
Children may need some extra attention or affection during these uncertain times. They may want to talk about concerns, fear and questions. Remember children will follow your reactions so it is important to remain calm and reassuring. Emphasize that your children and your family are fine. Remind younger children that the adults will keep them safe. See below for ways to support these conversations with your children.
Share information in concrete way and focus on relevant details:
Limit conversations that children cannot control or help with, such as wage losses. Instead, talk about how you are helping to keep them safe. You can discuss good hygiene and even make games out of washing routines. If children ask for statistics or numbers ensure that you use a reliable source. Most importantly, validate their questions and concerns. Ensure you correct misinformation that they may have seen on social media or heard from others. Encourage them to approach you with questions or set up a regular time, as part of your household routine, to have a discussion to answer questions and discuss new information as appropriate. Be sure that you are being HONEST while also responding in an age appropriate way while avoiding statements like “don’t worry” or “it’s all okay”.
Age Appropriate Explanations: (adapted from www.cmhaww.ca)
JK to Grade 3: need brief, simple information that should balance COVID-19 facts with appropriate reassurances that their schools and homes are safe and that adults are there to help keep them healthy and to take care of them if they do get sick. Give simple examples of the steps people take every day to stop germs and stay healthy, such as washing hands. Use language such as “adults are working hard to keep you safe.”
Grades 4-6: will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what will happen if COVID-19 comes to their school or community. They may need assistance separating reality from rumor and fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to prevent germs from spreading.
Grades 7-12 Upper middle school and high school students are able to discuss the issue in a more in-depth (adult-like) fashion and can be referred directly to appropriate sources of COVID-19 facts. Provide honest, accurate, and factual information about the current status of COVID-19. Having such knowledge can help them feel a sense of control.
Monitor television viewing and social media:
Over exposure to information can be very upsetting and impact your child’s ability to cope. Take the time to discuss how not everything on social media and the internet is always accurate information. Return to the above noted reliable sources to focus on information gathering. Remember, information designed for adults can increase anxiety and concern in children. So monitor your child’s use but also your own as well!
Reach out and stay connected:
Organize phone calls, face-time or other methods to create connection during social isolation. Connectedness is an important part of mental wellness.
There are Apps available for Mental Health:
SAM (Self-Help for Anxiety Management)
Self-Help for Anxiety Management (SAM) is a free app that provides people with instructions and activities for managing anxiety. Users can log in and trend their present level of anxiety, list things that make them anxious, read about activities for improving anxiety management, use tools (e.g. though recorder, breathing timer) for anxiety management, bookmark useful tools and approaches, and discuss anxiety management with other users.
SuperBetter builds resilience – the ability to stay strong, motivated and optimistic even in the face of change and difficult challenges. Playing SuperBetter unlocks heroic potential to overcome tough situations and achieve goals that matter most. (F)
Overcome stress and negative thoughts. Build Resilience. (S)
Made for meditation on the go (“Urban Meditation”)
Stop, Breathe, and Think
Emotional tracker lets you note moods before and after meditating and track your mental wellness over time.
The Five Minute Journal
The Five Minute Journal is based on proven positive psychology research. It focuses your attention on the good in your life and helps you set action in just 5 minutes a day.
A meditation app for beginners that also includes programs for intermediate and advanced meditators. Guided meditation sessions are available in lengths of 3, 5, 10, 15, 20, or 25 minutes so you can choose the length that best fits your schedule.
Learn the essentials of meditation and mindfulness with their free Basics pack. If you enjoy it, you can subscribe.
Additional COVID-19 mental health resources:
- Mental Health and Well-Being Resource List and Contact Information
- ‘Brains On’ (A Podcast for kids) –Understanding Coronavirus and how germs spread
- World Health Organization (WHO) – Coping with Stress during Covid-19
- WHO Infographic – Helping children cope with stress during the 2019-nCoV outbreak
- MPR News – Comic about Coronavirus for Kids – based on an NPR interview
- Psychology Today – Article: How to talk to Kids and Teens about the Coronavirus
- Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Foundation – Helping Children and Teens Cope with Anxiety About COVID-19
- CDC – Talking with children about Coronavirus Disease 2019: Messages for parents, school staff, and others working with children
- Coronavirus Social Story by KeshetChicago
- Toronto District School Board – Helping Your Kids in Changing Times
- Toronto District School Board – Tips for Supporting Teens
- School Mental Health Ontario – How to Support Student Mental Health During the Covid-19 Pandemic
- Kids Help Phone – We’re Here for You During Covid-19
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) – Talking to Children about Covid-19 and Its Impact
- Children’s Mental Health Ontario – Talking to Your Anxious Child about Covid-19
Additional mental health resources:
- The ABCs of Mental Health
- Teen Mental Health
- eMental Health
- Kids Help Phone
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
- Free Mental Health Counselling
- Mind check
- Children’s Mental Health Ontario
- Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health
- Anxiety BC
- Talking about Mental Health Durham
- National Institute for Mental Health
- Helping Other Parents Everywhere
- Mind Your Mind
- Caring for Kids (Canadian Paediatric Society)
Recent communications from the Board, Ministry of Education
- Learning at Home: Information for students and parents (April 6, 2020)
- Letter from the Director regarding Learning at Home (April 3, 2020)
- Special Education, Equity and Learning at Home (April 3, 2020)
- Notice of cancelled and postponed school events (April 1, 2020)
- UGDSB Frequently Asked Questions (updated April 3, 2020)
- Ontario school closures extended until at least May (March 31, 2020)
- Letter from the Minister of Education to parents (March 31, 2020)
- Letter from the Director regarding staff reaching out to families (March 27, 2020)
- Letter from the Director regarding Continuity of Learning (March 23, 2020)
- Letter from the Minister of Education to parents (March 22, 2020)
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to reduce the risk of infection is to practice general infection prevention control. This includes:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
- Stay home when you are ill.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands.
- If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces like door knobs, toilet seats, light switches, etc.
- Wipe down phones, computers and other devices regularly with alcohol wipes.
- Self-isolate if you are symptomatic or if you may have been exposed to the virus.
- Wear a mask if you are symptomatic both in the home if you have close contact with others and if you leave to seek treatment
- Voluntarily avoid crowded places.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding COVID-19, visit wdgpublichealth.ca/coronavirus, or call WDG Public Health’s coronavirus call centre at 1-800-265-7293 ext. 7006, Monday – Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Weekends 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Travel Information and Requirements
Health authorities have important instructions for Canadians who are planning to travel or who have returned from travel:
- For up to date travel requirements from the Public Health Agency of Canada visit https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice.html
- For additional instructions for travellers, visit the Public Health website at wdgpublichealth.ca/coronavirus
Proactive measures taken in the UGDSB
The Upper Grand District School Board has a Pandemic Plan, which aligns with World Health Organization protocol and lays out actions to take for each phase of a pandemic. Staff continue to follow this plan as it relates to COVID-19.
Other proactive measures the UGDSB is taking include, but are not limited to:
- Staying in close contact with WDG Public Health
- Reporting school absences to WDG Public Health
- Reinforcing regular hand washing and proper hand hygiene
- Sharing reminders to be mindful of coughing and sneezing etiquette
- Reminding staff and students to stay home when they are ill
- Cleaning routines have been adjusted to include touch point cleaning, using disinfecting wipes on all touch-point surfaces such as door knobs, push bars, light switches, etc.
- Distributing additional bottles of hand sanitizer to schools
- Working with our Transportation Consortium (STWDSTS) on enhanced cleaning procedures for school buses
Do you have questions about COVID-19?
WDG Public Health has a call centre phone line to respond to community inquiries about COVID-19. If you have questions, please call WDG Public Health at 1-800-265-7293 ext. 7006. This line is open from 9am to 4 pm weekdays and 9am to 3pm on weekends.
For more information please visit wdgpublichealth.ca/coronavirus.