Letter from Director of Education, return to in-person learning on January 25
January 21, 2021
Dear Students, Parents/Guardians, Families and Staff:
In this ever-changing time of living through the COVID-19 pandemic, I am writing with an update about students returning to school next week. Late yesterday afternoon, the provincial government announced that students in seven public health regions of Ontario will return to in-person school on January 25, 2021. Schools in Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board are in one of the regions approved to open. This decision is fully supported by Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health for Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.
Please be aware that this is a full return to school on January 25, 2021 for all HPEDSB elementary and secondary students who normally attend in-person school. Our schools will be clean and safe, and staff will be ready to welcome students on Monday. We are working with our busing partner, Tri-Board Student Transportation Services, to ensure that busing will resume, as usual, starting on Monday. Anyone enrolled in virtual school will continue to learn online.
To ensure schools remain as safe as possible, it is important that students and staff self-screen each day using the enhanced provincial COVID-19 School and Child Care Screening. Please follow the directions in the screening tool and self isolate, or seek testing, if necessary.
To support the return to in-person learning, the government also announced additional safety measures to ensure schools remain safe, including mandatory masking for students in Grades 1-3. This will be a new approach at HPEDSB and for that reason, schools will provide masks for these students. Another new measure is the requirement for mandatory masking outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained. I recognize that this will be an adjustment for some younger students and ask that parents/guardians practise putting on and taking off a mask with their child at home. Additional information about how to use a mask properly, as well as other common questions from parents and students, is available at the public health website.
One other topic I want to address is the provincial Stay-at-Home Order announced earlier this month. Under it, all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home. Therefore, we are mandated under the order to have as few people in business offices as possible. That means staff who work in our administrative buildings will continue to work remotely while the order is in place.
I want to assure you that, according to Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and leading medical and scientific experts, including the Hospital for Sick Children, Ontario’s schools are safe places for learning.
We will continue to do our best to communicate as soon as we can. Even though the spread of COVID-19 may still present challenges in the future, our school and central office teams are doing all they can to support students and each other. Thank you for your patience and ongoing support.
Director of Education