Working with Ottawa Public Health to Protect Our School Communities
Since March 2019, we have looked to Ottawa Public Health for guidance in dealing with the pandemic. We will continue to follow their lead regarding all health and safety practices in our schools. This is why we will be implementing a mask mandate for all students, including Kindergarten students, this September. Students must also wear masks on yellow school buses and OC Transpo buses.
Why the Change?
Based on the most current information and Ottawa Public Health’s support, all OCSB students will be required to wear masks in school this fall. Last year 50-75% of Kindergarten students wore masks at school. We will continue to support students and families to increase this to 100%, except for those that are medically exempt.
We know a layered approach reduces the risk of students and staff contracting COVID-19. A school-wide mask mandate will offer our school community an extra layer of protection against the Delta Variant. Our goal is to ensure our learning and working environments are as safe as possible, and masking will further enhance our safety protocols.
Kindergarten Teams Will Help
We understand that it may be difficult for some kindergarten students to wear a mask all day, so our Kindergarten Teams will be there to help. This tip sheet produced by Ottawa Public Health may help you talk to your child about the importance of mask-wearing.
What Do Masks in Schools Look Like?
- All students (Kindergarten to Grade 12) will wear a non-medical or cloth mask indoors in school, including in hallways and during classes.
- Students may temporarily remove masks while indoors to eat food or drink.
- Schools will schedule outdoor instructional times (where possible) to provide students with breaks from wearing masks within their cohorts.
- Masks are just one layer of protection; we will also continue to practice handwashing and physical distancing.
What Can Parents and Guardians Do To Help Kindergarten Students?
- You can encourage your child(ren) to practice wearing masks and learn what type of mask is most comfortable for them.
- If possible, provide additional clean masks to use during the school day.
- You can promote mask-wearing as one way of protecting their friends.
Additional Enhancements to Health and Safety Practices Kindergarten to Grade 12
All students, staff, and essential visitors must self-screen every day before entering the school. Ottawa Public Health is updating its separate screening tools for students and adults. The update will reflect new provincial guidance.
Music – Singing
Students will be allowed to sing indoors as long as they remain within their cohort, wear masks, and keep their distance. Outdoor singing will be permitted without a mask if distancing is maintained between cohorts. If this cannot happen, students will be required to wear a mask.
Wind instruments are not allowed indoors. Students can use wind instruments outdoors if distancing can be maintained between cohorts.
Physical Education- Masks and Equipment
Students must wear masks when using gyms, change rooms, weight rooms, indoor PE, and shared outdoor equipment.
Physical Education Classes, Intramural and Interscholastic Sports
Students must wear masks indoors for all sports. Students may want to bring multiple masks so that they can change their masks as needed. Masks are required during outdoor sports as well unless physical distancing can be maintained at all times.
Students will be allowed to use lockers in grades 7 to 12.
Students can participate in extracurricular activities but must wear masks if they cannot maintain distance between cohorts.
Students will be able to use playground equipment, but hand hygiene will be required before and after using playground equipment.
Students will be asked to maintain distance between cohorts at recess as much as possible. Masking is required if they are unable to keep distance between cohorts.
Thank you for your understanding and patience as we work with OPH, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health to ensure we have taken precautionary measures to create a safe and welcoming learning environment for your children.
We will continue to send updates as new information becomes available. We look forward to welcoming your children to the school year 2021-2022 this September.