Conestogo Public School

September 2021 Reopening – Information for Parents/Guardians

“Things Will be Different to Keep Us All Safe!”

Welcome back and welcome to the 2021-22 school year!  It is so great to have our students back!  A few important reminders, parameters and restrictions are in place to keep us all safe.

Always, the most up-to-date information is on the Conestogo website (https://con.wrdsb.ca) and/or the Board website (http://www.wrdsb.ca).  Please subscribe to our school website, so that you can be notified of new posts right away.

We will also be communicating via School Day.  If you do not yet have School Day access, please contact our school secretary Mrs. Bauer to get set up.  It is very easy, and free.

Please read the information below thoroughly.  The aim of this document is to inform you about the steps we have taken and will be taking to keep your children safe, and to list the processes and structures in use at Conestogo this year.

 

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Our Schools Are Closed (Access-Restricted)

All of our schools are considered closed to general access (although they are open for students), and strict access restrictions are in place.  Visitors will not be granted access into the school, except by prior appointment.  Exceptions are Board itinerant staff, occasional staff, package deliveries (with restrictions) and emergency personnel.

Please do not attempt to gain access to the school building, including portables, without making an appointment first.

You may call the school office at 519-664-3773 to make an appointment if an in-person visit is essential.  Telephone or electronic communication (con@wrdsb.ca) is preferable to in-person meetings.

It is extremely important that Parents/Guardians are duly informed of their essential responsibility to screen their child BEFORE they send them to school or WRDSB Extended Day program each day as per the Public Health requirements. A sick child, or a child with an active COVID-19 case within their immediate household should not be attending school. Parents/Guardians must also have a plan for the prompt pick up of their sick child should they be exhibiting symptoms of illness at school.

Please use the COVID-19 school screening site daily.

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Your Child’s School Day

Before arriving at school each day the following steps MUST be performed for ALL students:

  • Every day, we are asking families to complete the Ontario COVID-19 School Screener for each elementary student in the household. For those without access to the website, the PDF version is available here.
  • Then, print out and complete the WRDSB Student Screening Confirmation Form for each elementary student in the household.  Each form has one week’s worth of dates and signatures–daily signature is required.  Please do not sign ahead.

Teachers will have (and hand out) a few paper verification forms for students, for families that cannot print their own.

Students who arrive without a completed form will be sent to the office, and we will have to make contact with you.  You can understand, then, that we cannot have this happen regularly.

Please make sure to do the screening AND verification steps daily.

Conestogo Public School hours remain the same:  9:20 to 3:40.  There are two nutrition breaks:  11:20 to 12:00, and 2:00 to 2:40.  There are 10 half-hour periods in a day.  By and large all classes will be in their own homeroom for the majority of the day except for phys. ed., outdoor breaks, or classes being held outside.

For students who walk or are driven to school:

  • Students must arrive as close to 9:20 as possible and will go directly to their line-up.  Please DO NOT send your child to school early.
  • Students must leave the premises at 3:40 and will not be in the school yard
  • If dropping off your child by car, there is no vehicle access to the school parking lot – please drop off your child at the curb, and instruct him/her to enter school property via the walkway at the front, away from the parking lot

 

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Student Cohorts

Cohorting refers to the practice of keeping students together in small groups throughout the school day, limiting the exposure to multiple teachers or a wide variety of classmates. The purpose of cohorting is to limit the mixing of students, so that if a student or staff member develops symptoms of COVID-19, the number of exposures will be reduced.

Elementary students are cohorted with their classmates and their homeroom teacher. Specialized teachers (e.g., French, the arts, health and physical education) will go into classrooms to provide programming for students. Students may be pulled into smaller groups for support (e.g., ELI, small groups) with students from other cohorts.

 

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COVID-19 Prevention and Control Measures

Prevention measures are summarized in the COVID-19 school screening tool.  Completion of the COVID-19 School Screening Tool is a prerequisite to entering our schools (by appointment only).  Our entry procedure at the main office will include a questionnaire regarding your completion of the self-screening tool.

Control measures include:  elimination (many previously-used objects, furniture items, or school implements have been closed to student use); engineering controls (physical barriers, touchless fixtures); administrative controls (physical distancing, strict entry/exit protocols, limiting traffic); and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) (masks and face shields for teachers, masks for students, etc.)

If symptoms present, STAY HOME

One of the best methods of prevention for students is the COVID-19 school screening tool, available online, and in paper copies throughout the school.  Completion of this is a daily requirement for all students.  Any student experiencing any of the symptoms on the self-screening tool, and any siblings, must stay home.  Please call our attendance line, or send an email to con-attendance@wrdsb.ca to inform us of the illness.

Physical Distancing

There is an expectation that everyone maintain physical distance at all times.  The guideline is 2 m (6.5 ft).  Classrooms are set up with desks arranged with this in mind.  There will be signage in the hallways reminding students of this.  Use of the school yard at breaks, or for outdoor class activities, will also keep this in mind.

Hand Hygiene

For hand hygiene, students are required to either wash hands thoroughly with soap for 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer when either hand washing is not feasible, or if hands aren’t soiled.  This is under a teacher’s supervision.  Students in most classes will use their classroom sink to wash hands at each major transition, and when returning from outside.  When a classroom doesn’t have a sink, alternative arrangements have been made for hand washing locations.

Hand sanitizer will be made available in each classroom, as well as at stations throughout the school, and in the main office and staff work areas.  Students can bring hand sanitizer in from home, but it is not to be shared with others.

Signage

Students are to strictly heed the signage that is on walls and on floors.  The signage is there to direct traffic, as well as to provide important reminders of our expectations.

Masks / Face Coverings

All students in grades JK-8 are required to wear face coverings at all times inside the school, except when eating.  When outside on recess, students can remove their masks, but are asked to continue to wear their masks if they are unable to physically distance (ie., if they will be within less than 6 ft from another person).

Staff have been provided with ASTM face masks as well as face shields/safety goggles to wear during the day.  We also have a number of plastic partitions for various uses.

Cough/Sneeze Etiquette

Classrooms have been provided with Kleenex boxes for student use.  Students must sneeze/cough into a Kleenex or sleeve.

Water Fountains and Filling Stations

Water fountains are closed for the duration of this return to school and will remain closed to student and staff use.

Filling stations are able to be used.  Students must make sure that their water bottle doesn’t touch the body of the filling station.  Use the sensor, rather than the buttons to make the filling station work.

Students Needing to go Home

Any student showing symptoms of COVID-19 must be picked up immediately.  While waiting to be picked up, the student exhibiting symptoms will be supervised in our “Waiting Room” (which is the Learning Commons room by the library).  After picking your ill child up, please perform the COVID-19 Self-Assessment at http://covid19checkup.ca and follow the instructions.  If you are instructed as part of this process to have your child tested, you will need to do so.

If your child exhibits COVID-19 symptoms before coming to school (ie., the Self-Assessment tool gave a red screen), please DO NOT SEND THEM – call the school and report the absence, and let us know about their symptoms so that we can inform Public Health as needed.  Everyone in the household must stay at home until the child tests negative, or is cleared by your local public health unit, or is diagnosed with another illness.

Cleaning / Disinfecting

We will engage in much more frequent cleaning and disinfecting throughout the day.  

 

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Entry/Exit

Students must enter and exit the school by their designated entrances, in order to aid with physical distancing as much as possible.

Parents MAY NOT accompany their children to the door for morning drop-off — please drop off your child(ren) at the edge of the school property once they know where to go to line up.

The following are the line-up locations by class:

JK/SK – Kindergarten doors

Grade 1/2 – Back door

Grade 2/3A – Back door

Grade 2/3B – Back door

Grade 4 – Parking lot door – line up toward parking lot

Grade 5/6 – Parking lot door – line up toward front sidewalk

Grade 6 – Parking lot door – line up along school wall

Grade 7 – Intermediate back door

Grade 8 – Intermediate back door

Students are to physically distance when lining up.  Teachers will let classes in at the bell a few students at a time.  The rest of the students will wait patiently to be admitted into the school.  Students should wear their face covering / mask while in line.

Picking up your children at the end of the day is at the edge of the school property, and NOT at the school doors.  There is no parent access to the school building.

 

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Main Office

We need to strictly limit access to the school from the outside.  Any person coming to the school must have pre-screened before requesting access.  There will be posters of the Self-Screening Tool displayed, as well as online.

If your child arrives late, please bring him/her to the front door, ring the bell and speak with Mrs. Bauer.  You will be met at the front door, and will be instructed of the process for signing your child in.

If picking up a child early in the day (e.g., for an appointment, etc.) please send a note with the child either on paper or electronically to the homeroom teacher.  Indicate the time you will be picking up the child.  When you arrive:

  • Ring the front door bell and speak with Mrs. Bauer — indicate you are picking up a child as previously arranged, and wait outside
  • Your child will NOT be waiting; rather, once you arrive, please allow an extra 5 minutes for the child to be readied and brought to the office.
  • Mrs. Bauer will let you know the process for signing out the child

 

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Classroom/Learning Environment

Each homeroom has been set up with desks (JK-8), separated individually and spaced out according to the Board’s maximum occupancy per room.

Students will be in their own homerooms, at their own desk, for most of the school day (kindergarten is set up somewhat differently).  This includes intermediate students.  Teachers will make every effort to build in some movement, outdoor time, and other activities throughout the day.

Google Classroom

All teachers will be using Google Classroom with their students (Kindergarten may be set up a bit differently).  Teachers will be posting items, feedback, questions, etc. in Google Classroom, and will use this online tool alongside regular classroom activities and formats.

Indoor shoes

Stay tuned for information later on about sending in a second, “indoor” pair of shoes, which will stay at school.  For younger children, the teachers will be in touch regarding the idea of also including “just in case” clothes.

Gym

As much as possible, Phys. Ed. will take place outside this year.  On inclement weather days or when the gym must be used, there are a number of safeguards that will be in place that combine the prevention and control measures described above.

Please note that students will NOT be changing for phys. ed. this year (in order to avoid the tight spaces in the change rooms).

Library

The library will be closed for its regularly-intended purpose.  Classes will not be able to come to the library.  The resources in the library will still be available and loaned out to students, but the processes for doing so will be different.  Teachers will be in touch regarding this.

The library will be slowly reopened for student use at the Board’s direction, in a staged approach.  More information to follow.

Washroom Protocol

We are enacting limits on the number of students using the washroom, based on maximum occupancy.  Washrooms will be regularly cleaned by our custodial staff.

 

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Student Belongings

Lockers will be able to be used this year for Grades 7 and 8, but not right away.  For now, students in Grade 7 and 8 will keep their belongings in the classrooms.

All students (JK-8) will spend the majority of their day in their homeroom.  As such:

  • In Grades 7 and 8, the students’ backpacks will come with them into the classrooms.  Students must take out what they need so that they don’t have to travel back and forth to wherever their belongings are stored.  Teachers will be communicating with each class to determine how and where the backpacks will be stored during the school day.
  • In Grades JK-6, students’ belongings will be on hooks and/or in classrooms.  Teachers have thought through how they will stagger students going to their hooks at transition times, in order to maximize distance.

 

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Nutrition Breaks

Please note an important change for this year:  Students will NOT be able to leave the school at nutrition breaks.  If your child normally walks home at nutrition breaks, this year they will need to remain at school.

We will be staggering nutrition breaks, and will have half of the school population in, and half out (roughly) at each break.  Here is the breakdown:

IN (Eating) OUT (Recess)

First Half

11:20 – 11:40 /

 2:00 – 2:20

Rm. 1 (Gr. 5/6)

Rm. 2 (Gr. 6)

Rm. 3 (Gr. 8)

Rm. 4 (Gr. 4)

Rm. 5 (Gr. 7)

Rm. 6 (2/3 B)

Rm. 9 (Gr. 1/2)

Rm. 10 (2/3 A)

Second Half

11:40 – 12:00 /

 2:20 – 2:40

Rm. 6 (2/3 B)

Rm. 9 (Gr. 1/2)

Rm. 10 (2/3 A)

Rm. 1 (Gr. 5/6)

Rm. 2 (Gr. 6)

Rm. 3 (Gr. 8)

Rm. 4 (Gr. 4)

Rm. 5 (Gr. 7)

Eating Lunch:

Students will eat lunch at their own assigned desk with no exceptions.

Students will wash/sanitize their hands before eating.  They will remain at their desk the entire time until dismissed.  Dismissal will be one class at a time, one group at a time, in order to avoid hallway congestion.  Teachers who will have recess duty have already begun thinking about how to divide this task.

The lunch recycling program is on hold and will not be running.  Students will be asked to bring a boomerang lunch (everything goes back home with them).  Recycling for school-related paper products will continue.

Playing Outside:

Each class has been assigned an area outdoors which is their area, and will stay in their designated area.  Teachers will take time to teach their classes ideas for outdoor activities in a more confined space.  Students will get an opportunity to rotate to another area outside each day. 

 

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As you can see, we have tried our best to think about every aspect of school life in an attempt to create the safest environment we possibly can.  We will have to make adjustments along the way when something is not working.

I wish your child an excellent and productive school year!

 

Sincerely,

M. Sendrea, Principal

michael_sendrea@wrdsb.ca