We have compiled some FAQs that may be helpful to you throughout the return to school experience. Please note that the answers are subject to change based on direction from the school board, ministry and public health. If you require further clarification, please reach out to Principal Richard Walo at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please refer to the TCDSB FAQs for details that may not be answered below or can provide further detail https://www.tcdsb.org/FORSTUDENTS/back-to-school/Pages/faq.aspx
Please note the following acronyms that are present throughout the document:
TPH = Toronto Public Health
TCDSB/Board = Toronto Catholic District School Board
CSPC = Catholic School Parent Council
Q: If my child’s class has more than 15 students, how will they be distanced from each other in the classroom?
A: Teachers will be removing any unnecessary furniture and objects from the classroom to allow for maximum spacing between the desks. For grades 1 through 8, we have secured individual desks for all students and desks will be separated at least 1 meter apart. Kindergarten students will be seated at tables with 2-3 other students and will have plexiglass shields to separate them.
Q: How will the children be socially distanced during recess and lunch?
A: Children will be encouraged to continue to socially distance in the schoolyard. In the coming year, recess and lunch will be staggered into two cohorts as follows:
Cohort 1 = Grades 1 – 4
Cohort 2 = Grades 5 – 8
Cohort 1 = Kindergarten Room 1&2
Cohort 2 = Kindergarten Room 3&4
There will be designated areas in the yard to ensure appropriate physical distancing measures are followed. We have hired an additional 3 lunchtime supervisors to assist with supervision. To ensure the safety of all, students will not be allowed to leave the property for lunch.
Q: How will split classes be cohorted?
A: Likely by grade. More details to be shared with the impacted classes.
Q: How will it work for my child in PLASP?
A: School Administration will work closely with PLASP administration to keep cohorts together.
Q: Will students in PLASP be cohorted with students from their class?
A: Yes, the staff will do everything they possibly can to maintain cohorts.
Q: How will the busing work given social distancing?
A: The Board is overseeing busing. Students will be required to wear masks on the bus. It is highly unlikely there will be three students per seat. The largest bus at BSCS has 55 students. There will likely be 2 students per seat. Disinfecting of seats will occur.
Q: How will early arrival work?
A: Kindergarten-Grade 4 will enter the school immediately upon arrival (8:15-8:30 am). Classrooms will be supervised by school staff. Grades 5-8 will remain in the yard (8:15-8:30 am) in their designated areas until the school bell. Grade 7s and 8s will be on the turf, Grade 5s and 6s on the upper and lower playground apparatus. Further details to be shared with parents.
On inclement weather days, all children will enter, socially distanced, to their assigned classrooms. All classes will remain supervised.
Q: When will we get a sense of actual class sizes given the number of people who have chosen distance learning vs. in-class?
A: We are hoping to have confirmation of actual class sizes shortly. The Ministry of Education guidelines are:
Kindergarten maximum of 29
Grades 1 – 3 maximum of 20
Grade 3/4 maximum of 23
Grade 4 – 8 (straight grades) maximum of 32
Grade 4 – 8 (combined grades) maximum of 29
We estimate our numbers will be: Kindergarten – close to 25; grades 1 – 3 – the average is 20; grade 4 – 5 – 28; 7-8 low 20’s. This is still subject to change. We will provide updates in the next couple of weeks.
Q: Will spaces such as the library or gym be used to distance some of the larger classes?
A: Yes. Mrs. Hutchison’s Grade 6 class will use the library this year. They are currently the largest class in the school. The gym will be used throughout the day for multi purposes.
Health and Safety Protocols
Q: Will every student be screened for COVID symptoms when they arrive at school each day?
A: All teachers and staff have received extensive health and safety training, including training on how to identify COVID symptoms. The school also has a number of touchless digital thermometers. However, it would not be feasible to screen 570 students every day. We are asking parents to screen their children every day for fever and other COVID symptoms before they arrive at school.
Upon arrival – students will need to produce a passport that affirms their health for the day. Parents will be asked to sign the passport confirming their children to not show any of the 8 symptoms. The expectation is that every student will arrive with a signed passport affirming they do not show any of these symptoms. We will be further communicating this in the weekly update to parents, including sharing the passport.
Q: Who will be checking each student's COVID passports and when will this be happening during the school day?
A: Before students enter the school, they will be asked to show their passports. Kindergarten to grade 4 will be asked to produce upon admittance into the school. This will be monitored by whomever is on duty in the area. Grade 5 – 8 passports will be checked after the bell rings and prior to entry to the school. In the event the passport is not produced and the parent is not nearby, the child will go to a designated area. A phone call will go home prior to the child being admitted into the classroom. The expectation is that children will have passports in hand for whomever greets them at the doorway so a quick check can be undertaken.
Q: What is the protocol when a student has a fever or other COVID symptoms while at school?
A: Students demonstrating a fever or other COVID-19 symptoms will be sent to the office. The principal or vice principal will assess the situation and contact the parents as appropriate. As necessary, we do have an isolation room. The isolation room will be in the vice principal’s office. Risk assessment will be conducted based on Toronto Public Health guidelines.
Q: What if someone in my child’s class has COVID and my child receives a negative test? Can they return to school?
A: We will work with Toronto Public Health on appropriate measures and timelines.
Q: How long do students have to stay home before returning to school after being sick?
A: Until symptom-free (likely after 24 hours of not experiencing symptoms). Further direction provided by TPH.
Q: What happens if there is an expected/confirmed case of COVID in the school?
A: TPH will work closely with the school to outline specific steps to be taken.
Q: If a student has a sibling(s) at another school, and that sibling has been exposed to a positive or suspected case at their school, is the Blessed Sacrament student required to inform BSCS of the exposure? Are they required to stay home? How does this impact the rest of the class?
A: Parents should inform TPH and seek their guidance on contact tracing. TPH will advise on next steps.
Q: What kind of masks are acceptable for my child to use in class?
A: All students from Kindergarten to grade 8 are required to wear a non-surgical mask while inside the school building. Face shields are no longer recommended, as Toronto Public Health has deemed them to be not as safe as masks. We recommend parents send their child(ren) to school with at least two masks each day, in the event their mask is soiled, lost or damaged. Parent Council has purchased a supply of disposable children’s masks for each classroom.
Q: What happens if my child needs a break from wearing their mask?
A: Students are not required to wear masks outside, which provides regular breaks throughout the day. If your child is having trouble breathing or needs a break from wearing their mask, they should speak to their teacher.
Q: If weather does not agree with recesses, and children are kept indoors, will they be subject to wearing their mask all day?
A: Our goal is to meet the needs of the students. We will work with them and do everything in our power to make sure they are well cared for, and their needs are being met. If it means we get them outside for a period of 10 minutes, we will undertake this.
Q: Should my child bring multiple masks and water bottles to school each day?
A: We recommend parents send their child(ren) to school with at least two masks each day, in the event their mask is lost or damaged. Each classroom will also have a supply of disposable childrens masks. Water fountains will not be available, but water bottle filling stations will be available on a limited basis. Children can either bring multiple water bottles to school or refill their bottle throughout the day.
Q: How will the students be able to understand and engage with their teachers with masks on?
A: Teachers will continue to check in with students to ensure they can clearly understand the instruction.
Q: Will the school have (and use) thermometers?
A: The office will have thermometers. At this stage, they will not be in the classrooms. The administration – principal and vice-principal – are the only individuals who can take the temperature of the children. This will only be done in consultation with the parents.
Q: Will each student have a plexiglass divider at their desk?
A: Every student from grade 1 through 8 will have their own desk and chair, spaced apart as much as possible. Additional desks have been purchased for the grade 1 and 2 classes to facilitate this. Students in Kindergarten will be seated at tables of 3 or 4 with individual chairs. Parent Council has purchased plexiglass shields for each student in Kindergarten. CSPC will continue to work with school administration to ensure that student needs are being met.
Q: Where will plexiglass dividers be located?
A: The CPSC has purchased plexiglass dividers for all Kindergarten classes. The school administration will work closely with each class to ensure that needs are being met. Additional dividers may be purchased, if required.
Q: Will the children be sharing the school-provided iPads/tablets?
A: At this stage, children are not permitted to share school devices.
Q: What is the expectation this year regarding children bringing their own device to class?
A: We do not yet have clarification if they can bring devices from home. We will share more information as soon as it becomes available.
Q: How often will the teachers be taking the students outside for learning?
A: Students will be taken outside for learning as much as possible. Teachers have been meeting regularly to determine how to facilitate this. The school will continue to follow the direction provided by the Ministry of Education and TCDSB.
Q: I suffer from seasonal allergies and have read that runny nose, watery eyes are not a COVID symptom. The COVID symptoms list emailed to us includes runny nose/red eyes. What are plans for kids dealing with seasonal allergies? Will they be required to test? Will they be admitted if test results are negative and they continue to exhibit allergy symptoms? Should they get tested in advance of the school year?
A: We will review this on a case-by-case basis and realize this will take some time. We will be consulting with parents. We also need to ensure that contact information we have on file is accurate. Please contact the school directly to ensure your contact information is up to date.
Q: For those classes that have the highest number of students (ie 28-31), can any additional in-class safety measures be taken? Is it possible to space the kids appropriately with that many students in one room? Are some classroom spaces larger than others?
A: We have moved classrooms to ensure that larger class sizes, have access to the larger classroom space (e.g. Grade 6 in library, Grade 4/5s in the previous Grade 6 classroom)
Q: What will physical education classes look like?
A: Physical education classes will be conducted outdoors. Parents will be asked to dress their children accordingly. During inclement weather, classes may be conducted in the gym.
Q: Will teachers be wearing clear masks to accommodate student engagement?
A: No. For the safety of teachers and students, teachers are required to wear Board-issued masks, as per Toronto Public Health guidelines. This is subject to change.
Q: If my child has the sniffles or a stomachache do they need to stay home and if so, for how long?
A: Children are asked to remain at home if they show any symptoms of COVID. Refer to the passport provided.
Q: Can my child use the water fountain throughout the day?
A: The automatic water bottle filling stations will be in use on a limited basis. However, water fountains for drinking will not be available. All students are asked to bring sufficient water for the day.
Q: How will my child be able to wash their hands throughout the day?
A: Scheduled hand washing breaks will be incorporated into the regular day.
Q: How will distance learning work?
A: Please refer to TCDSB DRAFT Guidelines for Distance Learning at https://www.tcdsb.org/forstudents/back-to-school/pages/faq.aspx
Q: Will my child be learning with his/her Blessed Sacrament classmates and teacher?
A: Likely not. Virtual schools will be managed by TCDSB central staff.
Q: I have chosen the distance learning option but what happens if I change my mind?
A: Parents will be asked to contact the school administration to determine a re-entry date.
Q: I have chosen the return to school option but what happens if I change my mind?
A: Parents will be asked to contact the school administration to assist with registration for online learning.
Q: If I have chosen in-person learning, but my child has to be home for an extended period of time due to illness or family situation, how do they join distance learning?
A: Parents will be asked to contact the school administration to assist with registration for online learning.
Q: How will teachers make up for the lack of learning that occurred from March – June?
A: Educators will continue to conduct regular diagnostic assessments to determine their students’ level of understanding of a concept. This means that teachers may ‘re-teach’ certain concepts from the previous year.
Q: If my child were to learn online and then move to in-class, would they be guaranteed a space in their original class or is there a chance that the class would be full?
A: There will be a spot available at the school – it may not be in the original class. Fit and success for students will be assessed prior to placement.
Q: Do you have a plan in place for COVID resurgence and school lock-down to ensure that full scale synchronous teaching can be implemented immediately? Considering the experience during the spring, this is very important.
A: We are waiting for information from TCDSB. This will be shared with parents as it becomes available.
Q: How will remote learners remain connected to school events, picture day, etc.?
A: We will be doing everything in our power to keep the BSCS community connected. Remote learners will receive all school communications and updates, and will take part in school photos, including the class composite photo. If there are items to pick up from the school (e.g. JUMP Math workbooks), the first opportunity to do so is the week of Sept 21st.
Q: Are teachers being encouraged (asked?) to include/maintain their lessons and resources in online format (eg. Google Classroom) in the event that a student needs to stay home if they are sick, so that they can stay connected?
A: Teachers will use Google Classroom or Brightspace as their online platforms.
Q: In the event that schools need to close again, what is the plan to move all kids to distance learning? Are teachers ready to adapt?
A: Teachers will be preparing their classroom space, while planning and developing their virtual class from September 8th-11th.
Q: Is there a plan for synchronous online learning if a full class (or the entire school) needs to isolate due to COVID exposure?
A: Online learning will continue if the class needs to isolate. Further information will be provided in this case.
Q: Will there be communications between the classroom teacher(s) and the distance learning teacher(s)? How will the classroom teacher know what my child has learned?
A: The online and classroom teacher will utilize the Growing Success Report Card application.
Q: What are the expectations for students enrolled in online learning during the first week of school? Will all online students start immediately on the 14th and continue full-time thereafter?
A: Details are forthcoming.
Q: If my child is participating in distance learning, will they have access to Extended French?
A: Please reach out to the Principal so we can discuss this on a case-by-case basis.
Q: Will there be any Blessed Sacrament teachers who are not returning to school?
A: If a teacher does not return to school, we will notify the parents of the students in the affected class.
Q: Is it possible for a child to attend school once or twice per week for 2 hours per day?
A: This is not currently being offered. Please speak to the Principal directly with further questions.
Q: Will the extended French program continue for the 20/21 school year? What is the model for the extended French students - will teachers be switching classrooms during the day?
A: Yes, the program will continue. The model remains the same (50% English/50% French). Students will remain in their assigned classrooms and the teachers will alternate rooms.
Q: What time is drop off? Will children be able to play in the yard before school?
A: Supervision in the school yard begins at 8:15 am. Students in Kindergarten-Grade 4 will enter the school immediately upon arrival. Grades 5 – 8 will remain outdoors in their designated areas of the yard until the school bell at 8:30 am.
Q: What if my child’s teacher is absent - will the children be dispersed?
A: The children will not be dispersed. Likely, other BSCS staff will teach the class.
Q: Will CSPC meetings be held virtually? Is there any consideration to have this be a permanent arrangement to allow for more attendance by parents who were unable to attend in the past due to childcare needs in the evenings?
A: For the foreseeable future, we will continue to use Zoom/video conferencing platforms for CSPC meetings.
Q: Will the parent council meetings be live-streamed?
A: Unfortunately, we are not able to record the meetings but they will continue to be conducted via a video conferencing platform. As always, meeting minutes will be made available after the meeting.
Q: Will the school send home personal items that were not collected at the end of last year?
A: Yes. Items were stored over the summer and will be sent home during the first week of school.
Q: Would like a verbal (or even video/photographic) walk-through of what students can expect to see upon return to school.
A: We will work with the school staff to determine the best approach to providing this visual, in advance.
Q: Who provides work for my child if they are away from in-person learning, due to illness?
A: The classroom (in-person) teacher would provide the necessary programming.
Q: Are students expected to return school textbooks/library books to school and if so, how and when?
A: Children will be asked to return these items during the 1st week of school. A dropoff box/table will be located outside the classroom, and items will be collected daily and will be placed in an isolation area for 3 days.
Q: What will occur with sacramental preparation?
A: Those students who were supposed to receive their sacraments last year will do so this year. First communion will occur in October and will be staggered over a number of Sundays. Confirmation will occur in November. Toronto Public Health guidelines will be in place. Classroom teachers will work closely with the parish to provide the necessary preparation for those students who are currently in their Sacramental year.
Q: Will the school year be extended since the start of the year was delayed?
A: TCDSB/Ministry to provide updates. The school year consists of 194 days (including PA Days)
Q: My child has additional requirements within the classroom experience, how will that be accommodated?
A: The classroom teacher will work closely with the parent and special services staff in the development of the Individual Education Plan.
Q: I need to take my child out of class for an appointment that cannot be rescheduled or scheduled during after school hours. What is the protocol?
A: In the interest of everyone’s health and safety, it is best if all students remain at school throughout the day. If it is absolutely necessary that your child leaves school for a medical appointment, they must stay at home for the remainder of the day. We are asking parents to schedule appointments before or after the school day.
Q: Can I bring my child a lunch if they forget it?
A: In the interest of everyone’s health and safety, we are not encouraging this practice for the time being. Parents will be asked to contact the school administration to find an alternate solution.
Q: Can my child come home for lunch?
A: In the interest of everyone’s health and safety, we are asking that all students remain at school for lunch for the time being.
Q: Will the grade 7s and 8s be allowed to leave the school for lunch?
A: In the interest of everyone’s health and safety, we are asking that all students remain at school for lunch for the time being.
Q: Will the hot lunch program go forward this year?
A: At this stage, there will not be hot lunch or pizza lunch programs.
Q: Will there be any extracurricular activities this year?
A: In the interest of everyone’s health and safety, there will not be any extracurricular activities for the time being.
Q: Will there be any after school or weekend programs at the school?
A: In the interest of everyone’s health and safety, there will not be any after school or weekend programs at the school for the time being. This will also allow for more extensive cleaning of the school to be done in the evenings and on weekends.
Q: My child is in the gifted program, will this continue?
A: The gifted program will continue to be offered in a remote online environment only. A student can stay home on their regular withdrawal day to attend via synchronous online learning or if this is not possible, they will be accommodated at BSCS.
Q: Will there be extra mental health support within the school to support the students?
A: Yes. Parents are asked to contact the school administration if services are required.
Q: How will religious education be delivered in lieu of school-wide masses at the church?
A: Father Larry, Joanna and the newly appointed parish Deacon will work closely with the school staff. Zoom/Video Conferencing may be used in some grades. Religion will continue to be taught daily. More information regarding sacraments will be forthcoming.
Q: Will kids still be expected to have separate indoor shoes?
A: Yes, students need indoor shoes.
Q: Has anything been announced about how highschool tours will be handled for grade 8 students?
A: We are waiting on direction on this from our high school partners. At this stage, highschool tours will likely be done via Zoom.
Q: How will teaching be managed in the first staggered entry week to ensure students starting later in the week are not missing out. Are there tests/ assignments the first week of school?
A: The first week of school will be used to reinforce new routines.
Q: What is the school’s current plan for air ventilation?
A: Teachers will be encouraged to keep doors and windows open to ensure natural airflow ventilation. All of the classrooms and washroom windows open.
Q: Can I donate a tent or air purifier to the school?
A: We are very grateful to the BSCS community for their generosity! Donations must abide by a number of criteria established by the Board. Any facilities-related donation must be coordinated through the Board central facilities department to ensure there is necessary health and safety and mechanical compliance. At this time if parents wish to make a financial donation, they are welcome to do so. Tax receipts are issued for cash donations. The Parent Council, in consultation with the parent community and the school principal, determine how best to allocate the funds on an equitable basis for the school. For more information, see https://www.blessedsacramentcs.com/cspc. Air purifiers and tents are beyond the school’s purview and fall under Board facilities. The Board will determine what is able to occur based on the footprint and mechanical systems of the school.