Update on Return to School – July 9, 2020

There have been many media reports and speculation about what the fall will look like for schools.  Please know that our staff continue to prepare for a safe return to school for everyone in September.

Return to School – five days a week

The preference of the Ottawa Catholic School Board is for all students to return to regular instruction, five days a week, with enhanced cleaning and hygiene.  

The decision about whether schools return to regular five-day in-person instruction will be made by the Ministry of Education in consultation with the provincial Ministry of Health. The Minister of Education will make that decision in early August.  The good news is that the data in the province and the Ottawa area are trending in the right direction.  

We received many comments through our surveys to parents, staff and students regarding how the process could be better adapted to meet individual family circumstances. We know that a partial return to school in the fall will not work for many families trying to balance work commitments while supporting children at home.  If we are not permitted to have all students at school five days per week, then we are looking at a rotation that involves three days at school for one week, followed by two days at school the next week.  In this adapted model, half of each class attends school every Monday and Tuesday and alternate Wednesdays while the other half of the class attends school every Thursday and Friday and alternate Wednesdays. Students will be able to connect with educators for distance learning whenever they cannot attend school in-person.  The adapted model is not our preferred model given the negative impact on families and on children not having the routine of regular school.

School Year Calendar

The Board of Trustees approved a modified school year calendar at a special meeting of the Board on Thursday, July 9. The school year 2020-2021 will start on Thursday, September 3, 2020.

Educators and support staff will be in schools on Monday, August 31, to Wednesday, September 2. These days will be used for professional learning and finalizing school health and safety measures.

Preparation for a Safe Return of All Students

The guiding principles for our return to school include:

1. Keep students and staff safe and healthy;

2. Provide continuity of learning: in-person, or distance learning, or a hybrid combination;

3. Be flexible to address access and equity needs of each student.

Our framework for a safe return to school addresses six components:

1. Prepare each school site

2. Prepare our staff for a return to work in schools

3. Prepare for the return of students to schools

4. School Operations

5. Hygiene and Cleaning

6. Communications

The details of the plan can be found here.  The plan is subject to change based on Public Health and the Ministry of Education guidance.

Next Steps

Parents will be informed of the Ministry of Education’s decision in early August as to the format of return, whether that be five days per week for all students or an adapted model with the partial return.

We recognize that even with a full five-day return to learning with enhanced hygiene and cleaning, some parents may choose to not have their children return until a vaccine has been implemented.  To plan support for those students that are selecting full distance learning, we will be sending a separate questionnaire in the coming days. Any parent that is selecting full distance learning for the fall will be asked to complete this survey.  The Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA) will also be surveying parents to see if they plan on accessing transportation in the fall or if they plan on providing their own arrangements during the COVID-19 environment.

Principals will provide an update to all parents and students two weeks before the start of the school year. They will outline school safety precautions and provide detailed information related to your child’s school.

We know we don’t have all of the answers. We remain committed to keeping you informed and will provide updates as they become available.

We hope you and your family remain healthy and safe over the summer months.

Denise Andre, Director of Education
Thomas D’Amico, In-coming Director of Education
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