Hamilton

Here's the reopening plan for Hamilton's Catholic school board

Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board released its reopening plan to parents on Friday as families and educators prepare for September. Here's the full plan.

Board released detailed reopening plan on Friday but offers no COVID-19 outbreak protocol

Elementary school students will be in class five days a week while high school students will be in smaller cohorts and alternate days. (HWCDSB)

Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB) released its reopening plan to parents on Friday as families and educators prepare for September.

For starters, the board said it would start assessments to "identify students' strengths and gaps in learning to help build fundamental skills that may have been missed since the school closure in March."

It also doesn't include a plan for a COVID-19 outbreak.

Here's what else you need to know:

Elementary students

Elementary schools are reopening with five full days of classes. The timing of school entry, recess, lunch, bathroom breaks and school bells may all vary and will be staggered, but the plan is to keep school as close to normal as possible.

One of the major factors in changing times will be school buses. The staggering also reduces the number of kids on the playground or in a given space.

Kids will learn about hand washing, hygiene and other measures. They will also eat lunch in class and avoid moving around the school. Playground structures will be closed.

HWCDSB said it would start assessments to "identify students' strengths and gaps in learning to help build fundamental skills that may have been missed since the school closure in March." (HWCDSB)

Any students in Grade 4 or higher will need to wear a mask or face covering. Students in kindergarten to Grade 3 will be strongly encouraged to wear masks in indoor spaces.

Students with special needs may all be placed in one class and there won't be any EQAO for Grade 3 and Grade 6 students.

What about students who won't be going back to class?

Students doing online learning must commit to five hours of learning. 

They will be able to access pre-recorded lessons or content through the myClass system or they can opt into synchronous learning from a different teacher with a group of students across the board also learning from home.

What's the plan if tighter COVID-19 restrictions return?

If COVID-19 restrictions force elementary schools to impose more limits, students will be split into cohorts of 15 and will attend school Monday to Wednesday or Tuesday to Thursday with alternating Fridays.

When not in school students, will participate in at-home learning with synchronous and asynchronous resources.

Those with special needs or those learning English can attend five days a week. 

The other alternative is total remote learning where students will learn all strands of the curriculum. They'll have 30 to 60 minutes of independent work a day while synchronous learning will occur in 30-minute blocks. Religion will also be taught daily in a live, synchronous session.

What about subjects like music, physical education and French?

French, art, music and gym class, among all other courses, will be taught.

Music class will continue without instruments or performances. 

Gym classes will be taught outside when possible and all shared equipment will be cleaned. 

What else do you need to know?

French, art, music and gym class, among all other courses, will be taught.

Music class will continue without instruments or performances. 

Gym classes will be taught outside when possible and all shared equipment will be cleaned. 

High school students

Secondary schools students will study one course at a time and be divided into cohorts of 15. 

Students attend on alternating days as per the schedule assigned, combining face-to-face and online learning. 

They'll be able to leave school at lunch or stay in school to study on their own.

The semester will be divided into four blocks of 23 days. There will be no exam days in January (an exam will happen, if necessary, at the end of each block of 23 days).

HWCDSB will offer hand-washing breaks to students and staggered start times to try and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. (HWCDSB)

Timetabling of prerequisite Grade 12 courses will consider post-secondary application and admission deadlines.

Students graduating before February 2021 who haven't met the literacy graduation requirement need to enrol in the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course or an adjudication process.

Graduating students will still need to meet the 40-hour Christian service graduation requirement and can do so virtually.

Cooperative education and apprenticeship students can attend work placements as long as COVID-19 protocol is strictly followed.

What's the plan if tighter COVID-19 restrictions return?

If tighter restrictions occur, students will go fully online. Not all courses are available for fully online and may require a timetable change. If restrictions loosen, there will be more face-to-face learning.

What else do you need to know?

French, art, music and gym class, among all other courses, will be taught.

Music class will continue without instruments or performances. 

Gym classes will be taught outside when possible and all shared equipment will be cleaned.

Preventing spread of COVID-19

Parents will have to screen their kids daily. Staff will also screen themselves daily.

Signs urging proper hand washing techniques and reminders to students to physical distance will be posted throughout the school, while floor decals will indicate spacing and arrows will direct traffic flow in hallways. Water fountains won't be used but students will have stations to fill up water bottles.

The board also upgraded all of its ventilation equipment and will include regularly scheduled hand-washing breaks. Hand sanitizer will be regularly available as well.

Schools will keep records of classes, including seat plans, students on buses and those seat plans, and logs of visitors to the school, all of which will be ready to hand over to public health.

HWCDSB will have posters around schools encouraging habits that stop the spread of the virus when classes open up in September. (HWCDSB)

Staff will have medical masks and face shields.

School bus schedules are being assigned soon.

What happens if someone gets infected?

The board says it's working with public health to continue developing its protocol, but here's what we know right now:

  • Any student who experiences symptoms of illness at school will be immediately separated from others in a separate room where possible. 

  • Someone will supervise isolated students, while maintaining physical distancing and using personal protective equipment. 

  • The student's parent or caregiver will need to pick up their child immediately.

  • If a staff member develops symptoms of illness, they will be directed to return home and seek medical attention. 

  • If they cannot leave immediately, the staff member will be isolated in a specific area until they are able to leave. 

School boards will have to report any suspected or confirmed cases to the Ministry of Education daily. 

The board notes it does have a cleaning procedure approved by Hamilton Public Health to use if case of COVID-19 has been confirmed. 

Read the full plan here.

Mobile users: View the document
(PDF KB)
(Text KB)
CBC is not responsible for 3rd party content

About the Author

Bobby Hristova

Reporter/Editor

Bobby Hristova is a reporter/editor with CBC Hamilton. Email: bobby.hristova@cbc.ca

now