Back to School Update – Keeping You Informed | August 26, 2020

Revised dates for the staggered start to the first day of classes

The Ministry of Education is now allowing school boards to stagger students’ entry over two weeks. A staggered start will allow for a gradual return of students, and provide time for learning and adopting new routines and safety practices. The additional time also allows for balancing classes as students are moved in or out of regular school and distance learning.

GradeStart Date
1st-year KindergartenThursday, September 3 (orientation) - ½ of students new to Kindergarten
Friday, September 4 (orientation) - ½ of students new to Kindergarten
Kindergarten (all)Tuesday, September 8
Grades 1-3Tuesday, September 8
Grades 4-6Wednesday, September 9
Grade 7Tuesday, September 8
Grade 8Wednesday, September 9
Grades 9-12 Cohort AMonday, September 14
Grades 9-12 Cohort BTuesday, September 15

*Start dates for in-person and distance learning are the same.

Special education students follow the same staggered start
Students with special education needs or very high needs will start classes on the same day as other students in their grade. This also applies to students in system classes. If parents/guardians have questions specific to their child with special needs or high needs, please contact your school Principal or resource teacher.

Transportation update from OSTA

The Ottawa Transportation Authority (OSTA) has announced the yellow school bus service will begin on September 14. OSTA needs to coordinate the logistics for over 1300 vehicles and close to 5000 different combinations of daily routes. Student and driver safety remains everyone’s number one priority. For more information, visit the OSTA website.

Extended Day Program registration

Families who were registered in EDP when the program closed in March 2020 will be offered the opportunity to re-register for the 2020-21 school year first.  We will fill the remaining vacancies through the City of Ottawa’s Child Care Registry and Wait List. Updated information will be posted on the Extended Day Program page on our website.

Will all students have to wear a mask at school?

Students in grades 4-12 are mandated by the Province to wear masks while in school. This has not changed. As for students in Kindergarten to grade 3, the OCSB strongly recommends that all students wear masks both on the bus and in school. Please see the latest update from Ottawa Public Health related to questions about face masks.

Our Kindergarten to grade 3 educators will teach students the importance of mask-wearing and care for their masks. Staff will also provide our younger students with more frequent breaks from wearing a mask. You will find helpful tips and techniques on mask-wearing and hygiene routines in this Board video and from the Ottawa Public Health site with information on masks.

Wearing a mask may be challenging for some students with special needs or high needs.  If your child with special education needs or high needs is in grades 4-12 and medically exempt from wearing a mask, please provide a copy of the medical note to your school Principal. 

Additional Public Health updates

Ottawa Public Health routinely updates its website regarding school-related topics. You can find detailed information on everything from ventilation to screening practices to how to contain community spread. Read Ottawa Public Health’s Responses to FAQ from Schools and School Boards.

A look inside an OCSB school

Since parents won’t be allowed inside schools this year, we wanted to be able to show you the many ways we’re working to keep your child safe this fall. This short video we posted on social media shows how we’re implementing Ottawa Public Health and the Ministry of Education’s advice to develop safe, welcoming learning environments.

Still, confused about what distance learning will actually look like?

The number one question we have received regarding our virtual programs is, “Is my child still part of their home school community?” The answer is yes!  We hope the chart below clarifies what distance learning will look like through our virtual programs for elementary and secondary students.

Kindergarten to grade 8

  • If your child is participating in distance learning, they will attend our Virtual Program, which is an online elementary school.
  • This online elementary school will have its own school Principal and Vice-Principals who will send you more information soon, like when your child starts classes, who their classroom teacher is and what to expect this fall.
  • Over 7500 students in K-8 have selected the virtual learning program.  We’re in the process of finalizing student timetables and staffing virtual classrooms.
  • Your child will be in a virtual class with a dedicated teacher who will teach them most subjects. 
  • If your child is in Kindergarten, their teacher will be available for synchronous learning (real-time online instruction) for 180 minutes each day. 
  • If your child is in grades 1 to 8, their teacher will be available for synchronous learning (real-time online instruction) for 225 minutes each day.
  • Your child’s virtual class may consist of a combination of students from their home school and other OCSB schools
  • Even though your child attends our online elementary school, they are still registered with your home school.
  • Parents can still decide how much time the student spends online. There is no expectation that they are online throughout the entire school day.

Grade 9 to 12

  • If your child participates in distance learning, they will attend our Virtual Academy, an online high school.
  • This online high school will have its own school Principal and Vice-Principals who will send you more information soon, like when your child starts classes, who their course teachers are and what to expect this fall.
  • Over 3500 students in 9-12 have selected the virtual learning academy. We’re in the process of finalizing student timetables and staffing virtual classrooms.
  • If your child is in grades 9 to 12, they will take one course at a time over a 5-6 week period. Once they complete one course they will move on to their next course.  Over the period from September to the end of January, students will complete four online courses.  Their teacher will be available for synchronous learning (real-time online instruction) for 225 minutes each day.
  • At the end of the semester, students may choose to continue in the virtual academy for the second semester or choose to return to in-person learning at their day school.
  • Your child’s class may consist of a combination of students from their home school and other OCSB schools
  • Even though your child attends our online high school, they are still registered with your home school.

We are in this together

Let’s face it – this is not a normal school year. We will be called on to seek innovative solutions to challenges we never imagined a year ago. This is a time to “Be Community” in words and actions. We need your continued patience as we develop our new school policies and practices.We know you may still have unanswered questions, but rest assured, we have staff working around the clock to get you answers. We’ve been updating our Back to School Frequently Asked Questions regularly with new information clarifying our Revised Back to School Plan

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