The District School Board of Niagara is working closely with Niagara Public Health on Coronavirus (COVID-19) communication to ensure students and their families receive relevant and timely information to keep them healthy.
March 31, 2020
Students will not be heading back to class until at least Monday, May 4, 2020, the Premier of Ontario announced today. This decision was made to maintain the safety of students and staff in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this extended closure, we remain committed to ensuring that DSBN students can access education from home. Here’s what we are doing to support our students and families:
- Connecting with your student. Your child’s teacher contacted your child on Monday, March 30, to interact with students and get them started on their learning. If you did not receive a message, you are asked to contact the school principal.
- Access to technology for all. Not everyone has access to technology or the internet. Schools will be providing devices to those families who need technology so their child can keep learning. Where internet access is a difficulty, we will be providing families with WiFi access.
- Expanding Learn from Home. As you know, on Friday, March 27, we released online learning resources so students can continue learning at home. Resources will be added to this website over the next few weeks, and we are continuing with implementing virtual teacher-led instruction. DSBN Learn From Home website
- Focusing on graduating students. We know that graduating students have particular concerns. The Ministry of Education is ensuring that they support this year’s graduates. The required 40 hours of community involvement hours has been waived for graduating students. The Ministry of Education is working with colleges and universities on admissions and timelines. This has been our first priority, and we have contacted all graduating students at this time.
Our goal during this extended school closure is to ensure all students can continue to learn. If you have questions please contact your child’s school principal.
March 27, 2020
Dear DSBN Community:
Usually the week after March Break is an exciting time to return to school and prepare for the rest of the year. As you know, due to school closures to protect the community from COVID-19, this week, and those ahead, are quite different than what any of us were anticipating. The Premier recently commented that the closure period may extend beyond April 6 and we are preparing for that likelihood.
One thing that hasn’t changed however, is our commitment to student learning, and putting processes in place to ensure all DSBN students can be successful.
As you know, on March 20, the Ministry of Education launched their Learn at Home website. This has been an important first step in providing a continuity of learning for students. The DSBN has launched the first phase of a Learn from Home website and we are working on a plan to enable students to remain connected to their teachers and school while at home. All students and families can expect communication from their teachers early next week with further information and updates.
Niagara has benefited greatly from the expertise of Niagara Public Health. We would like to extend the appreciation of the Board of Trustees to Public Health and those working in health care and emergency services in Niagara. We are working on ways we can support the efforts to keep Niagara healthy, including providing masks, nitrile gloves, and other personal protective equipment to Public Health to distribute where needed.
As well, we greatly appreciate the work of our custodial staff and their efforts in thoroughly cleaning every school and administrative site during the March Break. This important work is essential in helping to protect staff and students from COVID-19.
Other ways we are supporting families in Niagara include working with our breakfast and lunch club providers to make sure our students have the nutrition they need to keep learning. We are working with agencies to help connect our DSBN families in need with the services that provide food parcels and grocery cards.
We want to reassure the Niagara community that despite these challenging times, we are focusing on a plan for graduating students and providing DSBN based learning resources for parents and families. As always, we will continue to work hard to meet their needs.
We would like to thank the Niagara community for your feedback, comments, and encouragement during this pandemic. Our focus is, and will continue to be, the safety of our community and supporting students in their learning.
Sue Barnett, Chair of the Board
Warren Hoshizaki, Director of Education
March 23, 2020
Premier Ford announced today that students will not be returning to school on April 6. We do not have any additional, official details at this time. We will update our community with information about the return to school as soon as we receive it.
March 23, 2020
All DSBN School Play Structures are CLOSED:
COVID-19 can last on metal and plastic surfaces in both cold and warm temperatures for at least three (3) days.
We have closed our school play structures and ask that children do not play on them until it is safe to do so.
March 22, 2020
A reminder to parents and students that schools are closed for the next two weeks, and are expected to re-open on April 6, To access learning resources, please visit: Learning from Home
A Letter to Parents from the Minister of Education, the Honourable Stephen Leece
Dear Ontario parents,
I am writing to you in unprecedented times. The foremost priority of the government is to keep all Ontarians safe, including our students and educators. Working with our partners and all levels of government, we will do whatever it takes to deliver on this imperative.
Since we first learned of COVID-19, Ontario has been diligently monitoring the developing situation to protect the health and well-being of all Ontarians. We have also taken decisive action to ensure the province is positioned to be ready for any scenario.
That is why on March 12, 2020, based on the advice of Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, I issued a Ministerial Order to close all publicly-funded schools in the province until April 6, 2020. Our government took decisive action — one of the first jurisdictions in the industrialized world to have closed schools — with the aim of preventing the spread of COVID-19. We are also the first province in Canada to declare a state of emergency. This declaration under Ontario’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act enhances the province’s ability to support our heroic frontline workers as they continue to confront this challenge fully. While this period is marked by uncertainty, I hope that this letter can, in some part, provide answers to some of the questions I know many parents have.
Although this virus has been characterized and spoken about largely in terms of physical impacts, I believe we need to acknowledge and respond to the sense of fear and concern that your children may be feeling, especially for our younger learners. We have heard from many of them and their parents directly that these reactions come from a place of uncertainty and heightened media exposure that leads to more questions than answers.
During this time, I encourage you to continue to have open conversations with your children about COVID-19 and acknowledge that their reactions to this period — however emotional — are understandable and normal. There are many resources available to you and your children, notably Kids Help Phone, which is Canada’s only 24/7 national support service. They offer professional counselling, information and referrals and volunteer-led, text-based support to young people in both English and French. Please visit their website: www.kidshelpphone.ca, call: 1-800-668-6868, or text CONNECT to 686868.
While the health and safety of your children is my priority, I also know many of you are wondering how we will ensure students continue their journey of learning while out of the classroom.
As a first step to ensure the continued learning of your children, our government has launched an online portal dedicated to curating and providing access to a wide variety of educational resources, for all students from Kindergarten through to Grade 12.
This online portal, which is available at Ontario.ca/learnathome, enables students at every grade level to continue learning while away from school. These resources are developed by Ontario educators, and resources for all grades are informed by leading instructional guidance. For those students who are in secondary school, we are providing access to online courses directly based on Ontario curricula. Although publicly funded schools are ordered closed until April 6, the fluidity of developments around COVID-19 means we are preparing in the event the closure period is further extended.
Specifically, we are working to ensure that students will be able to continue their coursework and credit accumulation, even when we aren’t able to be in a classroom setting. Ontario is a leading jurisdiction in the availability and richness of online courses, so we will be continuing to leverage these tools and other resources to promote students’ learning and development. We are working with school boards to ensure students that currently do not have access to computers gain the technology needed to participate.
We know for those with children in a graduating year, there may be uncertainty about whether these students will be able to graduate. We want to make this clear: no graduating student will have their ability to graduate impacted by the two-week closure and the COVID-19 developments. For example, I have cancelled EQAO assessments for this school year. I have also approved a change in graduation requirements so the completion of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) is not a barrier for students on track to graduate. We are also working with the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development to ensure students can apply to post-secondary education (including Apprenticeship, College and University), regardless of the situation this semester.
In this time, it is more important than ever that we take every precaution to ensure that, when students return to class, they return to a safe and healthy learning environment.
The Ministry of Education is providing all school boards with access to funding for the deep cleaning of school facilities, childcare centres, and school buses. Following the closure period, we will minimize any risks to students, learners and our educators.
And for those of you who are returning from travel outside of Canada, it is critical that you follow the strong recommendations of Dr. Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and self-isolate for 14 days when you and your family return. This means staying at home and avoiding contact with other people to help prevent the spread of disease to members of your family who may not have travelled with you or to your community. If you think you or a family member have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, in addition to self-isolation, please take the self-assessment test on ontario.ca/coronavirus to help determine how to seek further care. This site will also provide you with all the information you need to keep you and your family healthy and safe.
The Government of Ontario is committed to ensuring all Ontarians remain safe and secure during the challenging time. As the Minister of Education, I assure you I will make decisions based on scientific facts, the best advice of public health professionals, and always with the health and safety of your child at the top of mind.
While our work continues, we will continue to keep you informed along the way.
The Honourable Stephen Lecce
Minister of Education
March 20, 2020
Dear DSBN Parents:
This March Break has been very different for everyone, and we know with your children staying at home for the next two weeks, you likely have many questions.
I will be providing community updates to you every Friday, as a way to provide new information to you, and to answer some of your questions.
Updates: Week of March 16 to 20:
- We know that many families are wondering about the possibility of the school closure being extended past April 5. At this time, we have not heard any information from the Ministry of Education. We attend a teleconference with the Ministry twice per week. If we receive any information about an extension to the closure, we will let parents know immediately.
- Ministry of Education has waived the EQAO assessment for this year. If your child is in grade 3, 6, or taking grade 9 math, they will not be writing it.
- The OSSLT graduation requirement has also been waived for this year. If your child is in grade 12 and supposed to write the OSSLT to graduate this year, this requirement will be waived. All other students required to write will do so during the 2020/21 school year. All students should continue to record community volunteer hours.
- Many parents want to create learning opportunities for their children at home. The Ministry of Education has launched online learning modules for students in K-12. You can access these modules at Learn at Home
We will also be adding to the Ministry’s learning modules with learning activities for elementary, secondary and special needs students. Included in this site will be mental health and well-being information.
- I know parents are wondering what measures will be put into place when students and staff return to school on April 6. We work closely with Public Health and will implement any recommendations they have for protecting our students from illness.
- Many DSBN students rely on breakfast and lunch clubs at their schools. We are working with LunchAngels, Niagara Nutrition Partners, and Food4Kids to make sure that these students are receiving either food packages, or grocery cards for their local stores. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like support or to volunteer.
- I know this is a stressful time for families. On our website, we have posted online resources you can access to support you with helping alleviate this stress. Go to dsbn.org and click on the COVID-19 slide on the front page.
We’ve all noticed that the news is changing moment to moment. If you have questions, please send an email to your child’s homeschool. While schools are closed, principals are working and can assist you.
I would like to say thank you to parents, students, and staff for your support and understanding during this difficult time.
Warren Hoshizaki, Director of Education
March 20, 2020
Ministry has launched their Learn at Home website. https://www.ontario.ca/page/learn-at-home
Find supplementary resources for elementary and secondary students to practice math and literacy skills and learn at home.
While these materials do not replace what students have been learning at school, during this unusual time, these at-home activities offer quick and easy access to some of Ontario’s best online kindergarten to grade 12 learning resources.
March 18, 2020
The Ministry of Education has announced the cancellation of all EQAO Assessments for the 2019-2020 school year. They have also confirmed the OSSLT requirement will be waived for the 2019-2020 graduates who still need to write the test.
Students who are not graduating this school year will have the opportunity to write the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) in the upcoming 2020-21 school year.
The Ministry of Education is also developing a plan to support “Continuity of Learning” for students during the school shutdown. This will consist of online learning for students in every grade level. We will keep you updated as details of this plan are announced.
March 13, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions: School Closures
Will my child be receiving any homework between March 14 - April 5?
Due to inequities in student access to technology, and consistent with school boards across Ontario, teachers will not be providing student work for students. This includes work packages or any online programming. The Ministry may offer supplemental programing; however, details have not been provided at this time.
Will my child’s attendance record be affected?
The school closure will not affect your child’s attendance record. During the two-week shut down, student absences will be reported as general absence, also known as a G-Day.
What will be closed between March 14 - April 5?
Below is a list of all confirmed closures during the school closure period:
- All DSBN Schools
- All School-Based Child Care Centres
- All Community Rental Permits
- Night School/Adult Learning/General classes
- Dual Credit Programs/Coop Placements
- March Break Activities in Schools
- All Trips/Tournaments/Championships/Competitions
- DSBN Education Centre
Will the schools be cleaned between March 14 - April 5?
Yes, all schools and administrative building will receive a deep cleaning during this time. This is a proactive measure we are taking to ensure our facilities are as clean as possible.
What will happen after April 5 2020?
Schools are expected to reopen on Monday, April 6 2020. The Ontario government has not announced any further information at this time. If any new announcements are made by the Ontario government in the coming weeks, we will share an update on our website, Twitter and Facebook.
How can I access mental health support in the community?
Pathstone Mental Health has closed its walk-in clinics until further notice. For immediate support, parents and students may phone the Pathstone Mental Health Crisis and Support Line at 1-800-263-4944.
Support from Kids Help Phone can be accessed by calling 1-800-668-6868, texting CONNECT to 686868, or live chatting at www.kidshelpphone.ca.
How can I support myself and my family in coping during COVID-19?
The National Association of School Psychologists has provided a link with tips for talking to your kids about COVID-19.
March 12, 2020
We have received notice from the Ontario Ministry of Education that all Ontario schools will remain closed for the 2 weeks following March break. This means all Ontario schools will be closed March 16 until April 5, 2020.
Schools are expected to reopen Monday, April 6. We will provide more updates regarding the DSBN tomorrow. Please continue checking our Facebook, Twitter and website for up to date information.
March 12, 2020
It is important that we all work together to keep our students, staff, and community members healthy. To this end, we are following our Pandemic Preparedness and Response Plan. Decisions about closing schools for health reasons will be made in collaboration with Public Health, Niagara Region.
Here are some of the ways we are protecting our schools and worksites:
- Additional cleaning staff have been added, and cleaning routines will be adjusted to ensure that all high use touch points like handrails, door handles, desktops, etc, are cleaned and sanitized with greater frequency
- Custodial staff will take extra care to ensure regular replenishing of foaming hand soap, hand sanitizer, and paper products in our schools
- Cleaning computer equipment, toys, and musical instruments will occur twice a day
- Hand sanitizer is supplied at all schools – continuing to work with vendors to keep supply stocked
- Niagara Student Transportation Services Bus operators will be enhancing cleaning of school buses – handrails between each run, seat backs and seat tops will be done daily
- Cancelling all international DSBN student trips during March Break, including Europe and the United States
- Distributing health information from Niagara Public Health
- Encouraging staff to stay home when they are ill
- Cancelling large gatherings organized by the DSBN such as meetings and events
- Regular contact with Niagara Public Health for updates on new information
What families can do to stay healthy:
- If you are travelling over the March Break, ensure you are aware of any health-related advisories - https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories
- Keep your student home if they are feeling unwell. Monitor for symptoms including fever, cough, difficulty breathing - https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html
- If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please contact Telehealth at 1-888-797-0000 or Niagara Public Health 905-688-8248 ext. 7330
- Wash your hands regularly or use sanitizer where soap and water aren’t available
- Cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow
- Visit reputable websites for COVID-19 information such as Niagara Public Health https://www.niagararegion.ca/health/Novel-Coronavirus.aspx or call 688-8248 ext. 7330
March 6, 2020
On March 6, 2020, DSBN Staff, students, and families received a Coronavirus (COVID-19) update from Niagara Public Health. The risk of infection from this virus continues to be low in Niagara unless you are travelling to an impacted country.
Read Niagara Public Health's update below:
Coronavirus COVID-19 Information from Public Health
January 29, 2020
The health and well-being of DSBN students and staff is important to us. That’s why we are giving you an update on the Wuhan Novel Coronavirus. The Wuhan Novel Coronavirus is a flu-like virus which originated in China; cases have been reported in other parts of the world. There are two confirmed cases in Canada at this time. There are no confirmed cases in Niagara as of the writing of this.
Human Coronaviruses are common throughout the world and can cause mild, moderate or severe respiratory illness. Symptoms of the virus have included fever, cough and difficulty breathing. We continue to monitor this situation closely along with our provincial and federal public health colleagues, and plans are in place to respond as this situation changes.
While there are no reported cases in Niagara, Public Health advises to reduce the risk of any flu type illness with the following:
- Get a yearly flu vaccination, available from clinics and pharmacies
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow
- If your child is sick, keep him or her home
Public Health has asked individuals who return from recent international travel and become ill with respiratory signs and symptoms to voluntarily report their travel history to any health professional, or emergency department staff, when they visit.
Niagara Public Health Fact Sheet
Ontario Ministry of Health
DSBN Hand Washing video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCniD_LHPts&feature=youtu.be
DSBN Hand Sanitizer video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLCI5eNaAeY&feature=youtu.be