Updates COVID-19 guidance at schools, message to families
February 24, 2022—Updated COVID-19 guidance for schools has been reviewed by HPE Public Health. These changes result in the following changes at schools.
All students, with the exception of Kindergarten students, are required to wear properly fitted non-medical or cloth masks indoors in school, including in hallways and during classes, as well as on student transportation. Masks for Kindergarten students are strongly encouraged, but not required in school or on the bus.
Music programs are permitted in areas with adequate ventilation. Singing and the use of wind instruments are permitted.
All staff must follow and comply with Procedure 230: Out of School Learning, ensuring all proper processes, timelines, consent, forms, and supervision ratios are followed prior to considering a field trip. Vulnerable sector checks must be current as per the procedure.
Day field trips are permitted where COVID-19 safety protocols that are in place at the school, such as masking, social distancing, hand hygiene, etc., can also be met and maintained at the trip destination. Trip organizers must understand any additional protocols required by the venue and ensure that all participants can adhere to these. Overnight trips continue to be on pause.
Cohorts may interact outdoors, with physical distancing encouraged, and indoors, with masking and physical distancing.
Buses must be used where transportation is required for class trips, and up to 2 cohorts may be on the bus, with masking protocols followed and as much distance maintained as possible (e.g., one student per seat where possible).
Day-of-trip communication plans and cancellation arrangements with the venue, transportation company, and families should be in place in the event of unforeseen staffing/supervision shortages.
Parent volunteers are approved, at the discretion of the principal, and may be limited to the number of adults required to meet supervision ratios. This should be clearly communicated with families. All volunteers are required to complete screening and adhere to masking protocols.
Visitors are permitted at the discretion of the principal/designate. All visitors must pre-schedule an appointment with the principal/designate. If a visitor has any COVID-19 signs or symptoms, they may not enter the school.
Any visitors to a school are required to self-screen and to wear a medical mask (for example, surgical/procedural) while on school premises. A medical mask will be provided by the school, if needed.
Clubs, activities, sport teams, bands and extra-curriculars are permitted. Cohorts may interact outdoors, with physical distancing encouraged, and indoors with masking and physical distancing.
High- and low-contact sports are permitted indoors and outdoors. The following guidance is subject to change based on provincial directives.
For all sports, teams must ensure that all participants (athletes, coaches, volunteers) have successfully completed the COVID-19 self assessment and be symptom-free prior to attending the practice and/or games.
- Masking is not required when playing high- or low-contact activities outdoors.
- Masking is encouraged for indoor sports, where they can be worn safely based on the activity.
- Windows should be opened, when feasible, to increase ventilation.
- Hand hygiene processes should be followed after equipment has been used.
- Masking is required for all coaches, volunteers, and referees.
- Pre-game and post-game handshakes are not permitted.
- No spectators/ parents allowed at indoor school venues.
- Spectators are permitted outdoors and in public arenas, following the protocols of these venues.
Indoor curriculum-based programs (e.g., Health and Physical Education, and music) will continue, with the following requirements in place for students and staff:
- Wearing a mask while singing and maintaining as much distancing as possible. Elementary students will also be required to stay within their cohort.
- Wearing a mask while participating in indoor sports where they can be worn safely. Masks may be removed during active participation but must be worn when not actively engaged.
Note: All guidance provided below is subject to change depending on evolving public health circumstances.
All student athletes must:
- Complete and pass COVID-19 Self Screening daily and before participating.
- Report if they did not pass the screener and will not be participating.
- Have their own, clearly labelled, water bottle for personal use only.
- Follow the direction provided by coaching staff regarding physical distancing, respiratory etiquette, hand hygiene, safe use of a non-medical/cloth mask, staying home when feeling ill, and monitoring symptoms.
All coaches must:
- Remain informed with updates and communication as changes occur.
- Complete and pass the COVID-19 Self Screening before participating.
- Ensure that each participant/student has successfully completed the COVID-19 Screening, and is symptom free, prior to participating.
- Ensure equipment has been properly sanitized before each use.
- Wear a mask.
- Follow the specific OPASSE Safety Standard activity pages for the sport.
- Volunteer coaches are considered visitors and must follow all HPEDSB visitor requirements regarding COVID safety. They must also have a current vulnerable sector check, as per Procedure 498: Volunteers in Schools.
- Follow the HPEDSB Return to Learning Plan direction regarding physical distancing, respiratory etiquette, hand hygiene, safe use of a non-medical/cloth mask, staying home when feeling ill and monitoring symptoms.
For future reference, these updates are included in the Return to Learning Plan. If you have any questions, please contact your child’s teacher or principal.
Thank you for your support as we continue working with local health partners to keep schools safe.