Parent Update from the Director of Education – March 9, 2022

Dear Parents and Guardians,

March Break is just days away, and I am grateful that our students, staff and our families will be able to take a much-needed break to rest and rejuvenate.  I wanted to update you on some changes in our schools following the March Break.

Lifting of Restrictions

Many of you will have heard the news today regarding the lifting of pandemic sanctions. This will be welcome news for some, while others will be more cautious in their response. Both feelings are valid, and as a school system, we will be respectful of your choices.

Here are the key school-related changes

  • Effective March 21st, masks are no longer required in schools for staff, students or visitors.
  • We will no longer require cohorting or distancing indoors or outdoors
  • Assemblies and field trips will be allowed again
  • Graduations and leaving ceremonies may take place again this June
  • The provincial screening tool has been updated with new isolation requirements depending on vaccination status.
  • The wearing of masks will be a personal choice for students and staff.

What hasn’t changed

  • Staff and students are still required to self-screen before attending school.
  • PPE will continue to be provided until the end of this school year.
  • Hand hygiene, improved ventilation, and enhanced cleaning will continue in our schools.
  • The attendance data will continue to be posted at the Ministry site until April 14th.
  • Rapid Antigen Tests will continue to be available to staff and students to replace kits that have been used after an illness.

Chief Medical Officer of Health

You can read Dr. Moore’s press release here.  For more detailed information related to the decisions that were announced today, please refer to the Ministry of Health’s slide deck.  Please know if you have any questions regarding your child’s school, you can always contact your child’s teacher or school Principal.

Next Steps

Given the volatility of the virus, please be assured that we will be prepared to adapt as needed. We will always look to Ottawa Public Health for guidance on health-related issues. As a Catholic community, it will be essential to avoid judgment surrounding certain decisions and respect differences and comfort levels as we move forward in this post-pandemic time.

We are encouraged that we will soon welcome visitors back to our schools. We look forward to a return to assemblies, guest speakers, field trips, and a full selection of extracurricular activities. We hope over the March Break you will find time to talk to your children about these changes and let them share their feelings with you about removing pandemic restrictions that we have told them kept them safe over the past two years. There is no right or wrong feeling, so we need to recognize that children adapt at different comfort levels.

Tutoring

The province is focusing on a Learning Recovery Action Plan. It will provide funding to Boards to invest in tutoring support for students beginning this year and opportunities for summer learning. We will provide more information as it becomes available.

Funding

The Ministry of Education is also providing funds for mental health and well-being and equity initiatives, along with temporary COVID-19 support if needed in the fall. Staff are currently working on how to implement these additional supports.

Remote Learning

The vast majority of our students learn best in person. We feel that in-person learning better supports our students’ academic, social, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. That said, our staff have done an excellent job creating engaging and supportive virtual schools at Blessed Carlo Elementary and St. Josephine virtual high schools. We will continue to offer this option as a full-year commitment for those who wish to participate in virtual learning again next year.

Spread Kindness

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought yet another stress to our staff, students, and community.  Many have turned to prayer, hoping for a peaceful resolution, and others have participated in fundraising activities or other signs of solidarity. We continue to pray for peace. “During Lent, let us find concrete ways to overcome our indifference” – Pope Francis.

I wish you and your family a restful March Break.

Take care,

Thomas D’Amico

Director Of Education

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