Return to School

The Durham District School Board’s priority is the safety and well-being of our students and staff, particularly as we prepare for the return to school in September. We know that the first day of school will be filled with some excitement and that there may also be some anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the length of time since students have been in school.

We want the return to school to be safe and successful for everyone. We have involved the Durham Region Health Department as part of our planning, while also following the directions of the Ministry of Education to ensure that our schools and workplaces are safe.

We will be focusing on everyday mental health and well-being strategies to support educators and students return to school by encouraging belonging, building trust and creating optimal conditions for learning and development.

This webpage will outline important information for students, parents and guardians about what a school day will look like, our new health and safety protocols, well-being resources and more.  It also outlines information about DDSB@Home, our virtual school that will offer robust and innovative programming for students who have chosen to learn from home. 

Ongoing contact with families will take place throughout the school year to provide further details about specific school level information and board wide updates.

 

Blue banner - The school day

The Ministry of Education released their direction to school boards on Thursday July 30 about what the school day will look like. We have since received more information from the Ministry and our most updated information is posted below.

Elementary Schools 

Elementary students will attend school five days per week, with students grouped together in a cohort for the full day, including recess and lunch. Students will still receive 300 minutes of face-to-face educator instruction. Enhanced health and safety protocols will be in place (i.e. enhanced cleaning, handwashing breaks, students eating lunch in their classroom, etc.) and the full range of the elementary curriculum will be provided. The school day will be very similar to what families and students are used to, with the exception of potential changes around bell times and staggered times for entry, exit and recess. The Board of Trustees passed a motion on August 12 to exceed the Ministry of Education’s guidance on class sizes and physical distancing of students to ensure that all classes allow for the distancing of students, at a minimum of one metre. While the Ministry of Education has made wearing a mask mandatory for students in Grades 4 to 12, the DDSB will be actively encouraging all students to wear a mask, unless they have a medical need. Specific programs will be developed to teach all students the importance of wearing a mask.

Specific details about bell times will be provided once we have more information about school busing.

Sample Timetable for Elementary Schools

Sample Timetable for Elementary Schools

Staggered Starts for Elementary In-person Families During the First Two Weeks of School

  Staggered Starts for Elementary In-person Families During the First Two Weeks of School

 

Secondary Schools 

Secondary schools in Durham will open with a hybrid model that combines in-person and remote learning. Students will be placed in cohorts of approximately 15 students, will attend every other day and on alternate Fridays. This will be delivered in a “quadmester” format which involves a four-semester school year for each quadmester. This limits the number of contacts students have in a day and provides the opportunity to earn two credits at a time. Each quadmester is approximately 45 days of instruction (9.5 weeks). Students will be required to wear masks while in school and the same enhanced health and safety protocols will be implemented. Each day, students will have the opportunity to attend a Study Hall staffed by a teacher to provide additional assistance with independent work.

The DDSB will be reviewing programming for students with a high level of special education needs who may require daily attendance and instruction at the secondary level.

Specific details about bell times will be provided once we have more information about school busing.

Draft Sample Schedule for Secondary Schools

Secondary Schedule Week 1 and Week 2 Hybrid Vertical

 Term Dates and Cohorting Days

 

Transferring Between DDSB@Home and In-Person Learning 

Please visit the Elementary Students or Secondary Students sections below for more information about the process and deadlines to transfer to/from DDSB@Home. 

ELEMENTARY Students

For anyone wishing to transfer to/from DDSB@Home, this will take place on November 16, 2020. This is the time that students receive their Progress Report and is a natural break in the term so that teachers can effectively assess students and assign grades.

How to Request a Transfer:

You can request to be added to the waitlist by logging into the parent portal, clicking the DDSB@Home Waitlist button in the navigation menu and following the instructions on the page. Click here to see an example of the page. You can opt to be added or removed from the waitlist this way and can change your selection there.

Please do not e-mail the school office to request a transfer as the page on the parent portal is the best way to make this request. If you are having trouble logging into your parent portal account, please contact your home school for further assistance.

Deadline to Request a Transfer:

You must inform the Durham District School Board no later than October 5, 2020 if you would like your child(ren) to switch to/from DDSB@Home. Requests received after this date will be placed on a waitlist closing January 7, 2021 for a transfer to take place at the start of Term 2 on February 2, 2021.

The deadline is necessary for us to accurately know how many families would like to switch between in-person learning and DDSB@Home. We then will need to assess the size of the waitlist and undertake a reorganization that will result in staff likely being shifted from in-person classrooms to DDSB@Home. This is a complicated process and some students will have different classmates and will likely have a different classroom teacher. If there are large waitlist numbers, it is possible an earlier transition may occur and/or that this plan may change so it is critical that we know by October 5, 2020 of your intentions.

You can find more information in this flowchart that outlines the process for students to switch.

FAQ for Switching from In-Person Learning to DDSB@Home (elementary)

What will my child(ren) be doing if they are not attending in-person and are on the waitlist?

A temporary transition learning plan will be provided to students who are enrolled but not-attending in person and are on the waitlist for DDSB@Home. This will be done through FlexTime learning with content from classroom lessons through Google Classroom and should be in place during the week of September 28. FlexTime, also referred to as asynchronous learning is learning that is not delivered in real time. FlexTime learning may involve students watching pre-recorded video lessons, completing assigned tasks or contributing to online discussion boards. We are committed to supporting your children as best as we can including some RealTime Learning opportunities until we can accommodate a transfer. 

Why can’t my child(ren) transfer sooner?

We initially set a deadline for families to choose between in-person and virtual on August 12, 2020. In order to respond to many additional requests, we have accommodated all requests up to September 2, 2020. Switching to virtual learning while offering an in-person option requires temporarily transferring teachers currently assigned and teaching in-person to the DDSB@Home virtual school. Many factors need to be considered including class sizes and the number of students wishing to transfer in order to complete this process. We require the time to assess the number of students on the waitlist and to implement a transfer that is as orderly as possible to avoid further disruptions to learning and classroom organization. 

If I choose to continue with in-person learning, will my class be larger or will there still be 1-meter of distancing in the classroom?

We are committed to keeping in-person class sizes as low as possible while also ensuring 1-meter of distancing between students. We need to better understand how many students wish to transfer before we can begin our analysis and make decisions to best support the learning of all students. 

What will happen if schools are required to close again?

In accordance with the direction of the Ministry of Education, we are planning to continue with in-person learning at this point in time. However, if the Ministry of Education directs that schools close, your child(ren)’s learning will continue virtually in the same class that they are in right now until students can to return back to in-person learning. Our schools and educators are preparing for this scenario in the event schools close again.

FAQ for Switching from DDSB@Home to In-Person Learning (elementary)

What will my child(ren) be doing if they are on the waitlist?

Your child(ren) should continue in their DDSB@Home class until we can accommodate a transfer.

 

Why can’t my child(ren) transfer sooner?

We initially set a deadline for families to choose between in-person and virtual on August 12, 2020. In order to respond to many additional requests, we have accommodated all requests up to September 2, 2020. Switching to virtual learning while offering an in-person option requires temporarily transferring teachers currently assigned and teaching in-person to the DDSB@Home virtual school. Many factors need to be considered including class sizes and the number of students wishing to transfer in order to complete this process. We require the time to assess the number of students on the waitlist and to implement a transfer that is as orderly as possible to avoid further disruptions to learning and classroom organization.

 

What will happen if schools are required to close again?

In accordance with the direction of the Ministry of Education, we are planning to continue with in-person and virtual learning at this point in time. However, if the Ministry of Education directs that schools close again, this will not have an impact on students learning in DDSB@Home as classes will continue. Students enrolled in-person will learn virtually in the same class that they are in right now until students can to return back to in-person learning. Our schools and educators are preparing for this scenario in the event schools close again.  
SECONDARY Students 

The waitlist for transfers to/from DDSB@Home Secondary is now closed. We anticipate that timetables will be developed for all transfer requests made up to November 2, 2020 for a transfer in Quadmester 3, which is scheduled to start on February 2, 2021.

Due the current lack of available class placements for students wishing to transfer, those looking for other options should contact your current school’s administration to have a discussion about learning options for your child. Specific requests may be considered on a case-by-case basis with a valid reason and if space is available in the virtual school and/or in-person school. If a transfer is accepted, the courses available to your child will likely be different.

Please note that secondary students are currently learning in-person for approximately 25% of their time in classes of approximately 15 students, with the remainder of class taking place virtually.

Although it may appear simple to be able to transfer students, it is a very complex process as teachers also need to be transferred. This has the potential to impact course selections for students transferring and would likely result in a very different timetable for them. It also has an impact on current classes and could result in significant timetable changes for all students. Courses are determined by enrollment and as enrollments shift, then so do available courses. At the secondary level, with the compulsory requirements, we are ensuring that changes do not impact students being able to access courses required for graduation.

 

FAQ for Transferring to/from DDSB@Home (secondary)

What will my child(ren) be doing if they are enrolled for in-person but not attending?

For students not attending in-person, they should continue to attend their scheduled virtual classes and follow the instructions of the teacher in terms of completing assigned coursework. The virtual component currently represents 75% of the time allocated in a student’s schedule. Teachers will also be providing additional support for those students, where possible.

What will my child(ren) be doing if they are enrolled in DDSB@Home and hoping to transfer to in-person?

Your child(ren) should continue in their DDSB@Home class until we can accommodate a transfer.

Why can’t my child(ren) transfer sooner?

We initially set a deadline for families to choose between in-person and virtual on August 12, 2020. In order to respond to many additional requests, we communicated that we would accommodate all requests up to September 2, 2020. We have now been able to accommodate requests up to November 2, 2020. Having virtual learning while offering an in-person option requires temporarily transferring teachers assigned to the DDSB@Home virtual school. It is critical to implement a transfer that is as orderly as possible to avoid disruptions to learning and courses in progress.

Will there be changes to my timetable?

For students transferring, there may be changes to your timetable and course selection depending on class availability. A guidance counselor will connect with you prior to the transfer to ensure that you are enrolled in courses.

For students remaining at their in-person school, it is possible there may be changes to course selections depending on how many students shift to the virtual school, but we will do our best to limit this as much as possible.

What will happen if schools are required to close again?

In accordance with the direction of the Ministry of Education, we are planning to continue with in-person learning at this point in time. However, if the Ministry of Education directs that schools close, your child(ren)’s learning will continue virtually in the same class that they are in right now until students can to return back to in-person learning. Our schools and educators are preparing for this scenario in the event schools close again. 

 

 

 

DDSB at Home banner

white button - FAQ! elementary           white button - FAQ! secondary           View our Orientation Videos page

Welcome to the DDSB@Home virtual school. As of August 18, there are 13,635 students (2,886 secondary and 10,749 elementary) registered for DDSB@Home. Due to high enrollment, we will be hiring additional school administrators to support the organization of the school. We know that your child being in the same virtual school as their regular classmates is important to you and we will try to keep schools together as much as possible as we shift into a virtual learning environment.

We are currently working on timetabling and staffing DDSB@Home and are planning to have this completed by the end of August. The programming offered by DDSB@Home will be similar to a physical school and they will be prepared to coordinate with your home school to be supportive of the best interests of your child(ren). Students attending DDSB@Home will be given opportunities to maintain a connection with their home school through events such as virtual assemblies, special events and other activities, when possible. Families will continue to receive relevant e-mails from their home school to help maintain this important connection.

Throughout the return to school, educators will be focusing on mental health and well-being to support students learning virtually, understanding that they are adjusting to a different format with different classmates. We are preparing to offer a robust and innovative program and are excited to welcome your child(ren) back.

We received a memo from the Ministry of Education on Friday August 14 that outlined the Ministry’s minimum requirements with respect the setup of virtual schools such as DDSB@Home.

Minimum Requirements for Engaging Students 
Students will receive 300 minutes of learning opportunities, with a combination of both RealTime (synchronous/live) and FlexTime (asynchronous/independent/not live) learning activities. Programming will be based on the full Ontario curriculum and include opportunities for guided instruction, large- and small-group learning, synchronous check-ins, and asynchronous independent work. Teachers will be available to students at all times during the teachers' assigned teaching timetables, as they would be if they were face-to-face in a classroom setting. 
 Minimum Requirements for RealTime Learning

The table below outlines the minimum amount of time per day that students, depending on their grade level, must be provided with synchronous learning as part of their scheduled or timetabled learning.

 

Grade Level of Students

Daily Minimum RealTime Learning Requirement

Kindergarten

180 minutes

Grades 1 to 8

225 minutes

Grades 9 to 12

The higher of 60 minutes for each 75-minute class period or 225 minutes per day for a full course schedule

 

The RealTime learning time requirements outlined in the table above may be divided into shorter periods throughout the school day. For example, a child in Kindergarten may participate in an opening exercise for 10 minutes with their whole class, as well as a combination of whole-group and small-group sessions throughout the school day, and a 10-minute closing exercise with their class at the end of the school day. Educators will use their professional judgement to provide some flexibility to students on an individual basis when students are unable to participate in RealTime learning.

 
DDSB@Home Elementary Draft Sample Schedule 

Draft Sample Schedule for Elementary Remote Learning 

DDSB@Home Elementary RealTime and FlexTime Learning

     DDSB@Home Elementary - Realtime and FlexTime Learning

DDSB@Home Secondary Sample Schedule 
View the Secondary Sample Schedule 
Students with Special Education Needs 

Students with special education needs will continue to be supported. Educators will continue to provide accommodations, modified expectations, and alternative programming to students with special education needs, as detailed in their IEPs. If it is not possible to meet a student's needs through RealTime learning, educators and families will work together to find solutions.

We will be working to provide continued access to assistive technology, including Special Equipment Amount (SEA) equipment, where possible, to support students with special education needs as they participate in remote learning. In situations where access to assistive technology is not feasible, educators are expected to work with students and parents to determine workable solutions on an individual basis. 

Technology Supports 
For students who may require a device or internet access to participate in virtual learning, we will be sharing more information in the coming weeks about the process to request technology supports. 

 

Staying healthy and safe - yellow banner

Staying safe and healthy during the school year is the most important way that we can protect ourselves and each other from COVID-19 when in schools or any public place. All of us have a responsibility to stay safe. The DDSB has developed a Draft Return to School Guide based on the direction of the Government of Ontario and in consultation with the Durham Region Health Department. Here is a summary of some of the steps we will be taking:

Daily Checklists:  Elementary and Secondary
Masks
  • The Ministry has indicated that students in Grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear non-medical or cloth masks indoors in school, including in hallways and during classes.

  • Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be strongly encouraged by the DDSB to wear masks in indoor spaces.

  • Medical masks and eye protection (i.e. face shield) will be provided for all teachers and other staff of school boards.

  • All school-based staff will be required to wear masks, with reasonable exceptions for medical conditions.

  • School-based staff who are regularly in close contact with students will be provided with all appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
Hand Washing 
  • Every class will have a handwashing station or hand sanitizer available to students and teachers.
  • A schedule to regularly clean hands will be incorporated into daily routines (e.g. upon entering the school, before lunch and recess breaks, after using bathroom, returning from playing outside and after sneezing/coughing.
  • Students will be educated on proper cough and sneeze etiquette and to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth. 
Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfection 
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfection practices by custodial staff have been established and reviewed by the Durham Region Health Department.
  • Frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected at least twice a day throughout the school building.
  • Schools will undergo extra cleaning and disinfection at the end of each school day.
  • Soft surfaces that cannot be easily cleaned and disinfected have been removed from classrooms (e.g. plush/absorbent items, upholstered furnishings). 
Self-Assessment 

Every morning parents/guardians must screen their children before they board the school bus, come to school or childcare. DDSB staff and bus drivers will also be performing a self-screening before coming to work.

It is critical that everyone conducts a self-assessment daily to check if they have any of these symptoms and they must stay home if they do.

  • Fever (temperature of 37.8°C or greater)
  • New or worsening cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Changes to sense of taste or smell
  • Nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
  • Runny nose, or nasal congestion (not caused by seasonal allergies)
For more information visit the Durham Region Health Department website 
School Bus Safety 

Durham Student Transportation Services is implementing new procedures to ensure the safety of everyone who requires bus transportation. Bell times may be staggered to avoid crowds at the start and end of the school day. Parents and guardians will be notified of any changes to these times. They can also check with their school for more information. 

  • Students must stay home if they are sick.
  • Each student must clean their hands using soap or hand sanitizer before entering the bus.
  • Students will be assigned seats according to grade level.
  • There will be a maximum of two students per seat.
  • All students will be required to wear a non-medical mask.

 For more information on student transportation, please visit the DSTS COVID-19 Webpage

Physical Distancing Strategies 

The DDSB is developing strategies that will support general physical distancing throughout the school day. Here are a few examples:

Adjustments to Movement Throughout Schools

  • Students will notice visual cues, such as directional arrows through corridors and stairwells and signs/posters on walls, to guide appropriate distances in lines/queues and at other times.

Drop-off/pick-up

  • Student entry into the school may be staggered according to their classroom to provide physical distancing and less congestion in hallways and corridors.
  • At schools with buses, school parking lots and kiss n rides will be closed off with pylons to all non-bus traffic during the arrival and departure of buses.
  • It is strongly recommended that any non-bused students walk to/from school.
  • If there is a need to drive students, vehicles should be parked off site in a safe location and the student should be walked to school.

Use of Outdoor Space When Possible

  • Weather permitting, activities (classes, lunch breaks) may be held outside.

Large gatherings/assemblies

  • Large gatherings/assemblies will be postponed for the immediate future.

Lunch Breaks

  • Cafeterias/auditoriums will not be open for use.
  • It is encouraged that staff and students bring their own lunch from home.
  • Water fountains will be closed but water bottle refill stations will be available.
  • To the greatest extent possible, students will eat their lunch in their classroom. 

 



COVID-19 banner

The implementation of our enhanced health and safety protocols will reduce the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus. If everyone does their part to stay safe and healthy (both inside schools and in any public setting), the likelihood that someone will contract the COVID-19 virus at school will be low. However, until the virus is eliminated around the world, there is still a risk of contracting the virus. As a result, the Ministry of Education has established COVID-19 outbreak protocols that we are supplementing in the event that someone feels sick and/or contracts the virus.

Contact Tracing 
  • Daily records of attendance of all persons within the school building will be kept up to date and available to Durham Region Health Department to facilitate contact tracing in the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case or outbreak.
  • To help facilitate contact tracing for COVID-19, classes will be grouped together to the greatest extent possible. This will involve students remaining in contact with only their classmates, teacher, and other educational support staff assigned to the classroom for as much as the school day as possible.
  • Non-essential visitors to the school will be limited. Wherever possible, telephone meetings with parents/guardians, vendors and outside agencies will be held. 
If a Student Feels Sick at School

A detailed protocol has been established if students become ill during the school day. 

  • Students or staff who develop COVID-19 symptoms will immediately be separated from others

  • Staff and parents will be directed to consult their health provider and should be provided with information about COVID-19 testing locations

  • Staff and/or students who test positive may not return to school until they are cleared by the Durham Region Public Health Department

  • Staff and/or students who test negative can return to school once they are symptom-free for 24 hours

  • DDSB schools will immediately report any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 to the Durham Region Health Department and the Board. 

  • DDSB schools will participate in contact tracing through keeping records of classes, transported students, and visitors to schools.
Students and Staff with Confirmed COVID-19 Cases Protocol 
  • If a COVID-19 positive case is identified in a school, the Durham Region Health Department will provide further instructions on who else in the school may need testing and/or monitoring/isolation at that time. 

  • Staff/children who are being managed by the Durham Region Health Department (e.g. confirmed cases of COVID-19, household contacts of cases, etc.) must follow their instructions on when they can return to school. 

DDSB Updates

The following is a list of updates and resources provided for our school communities during COVID-19:

Updates to the Board of Trustees

DDSB Update on Return to School #1 - June 24, 2020 

DDSB Update on Return to School #2 - July 8, 2020 

DDSB Update on Return to School #3 - August 10, 2020

DDSB Update on Return to School #4 - August 25, 2020

DDSB Update on Return to School #5 - September 8, 2020

DDSB Update on Return to School #6 - September 21, 2020

Press Releases
DDSB Expresses Grave Concern over Ontario’s Plan to Reopen Schools – August 12
Letters/Updates to Families and Guardians from the DDSB

August 24, 2020 - Return to School Update

Parents/Guardians were sent letters on August 24, 2020 with more information on the return to school, with specific letters being sent to families with child(ren) who are enrolled in either secondary or elementary, in-person or virtual learning. You can review the individual letters here:

August 19, 2020 - Update on Staggered Starts for Elementary In-Person Students

Dear Parents/Guardians,

This message is to inform you of an update we received from the Ministry of Education yesterday (Tuesday August 18) in the late-afternoon.

The Ministry has informed us that staggered starts will be allowed for the first two weeks of school for students attending in-person. As a result, we will be implementing a staggered start for elementary in-person students for two weeks, instead of one week as outlined in our update yesterday. We believe that this will help provide flexibility for families and help ease the transition of your child returning to school, along with learning the health and safety protocols that we will have in place.

Your school principal will be in touch with you next week with more details on how the staggered start will work. At that time, you will have an opportunity to let the school principal know if your child(ren) require any special accommodations for the first two weeks of school. We kindly ask that you wait for your principal to outline next steps as their focus this week continues to be on re-timetabling and staffing the school.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work towards a safe and organized return to school, that starts on Tuesday September 8.

With thanks,

Norah Marsh

Acting Director of Education

August 18, 2020 - Return to School Update

Parents/Guardians were sent letters on August 18, 2020 with more information on the return to school, with specific letters being sent to families with child(ren) who are enrolled in either secondary or elementary, in-person or virtual learning. You can review the individual letters here:

August 6, 2020 - Return to School Update

Dear Parents and Guardians

In the week since the Government of Ontario announced their plan for the September return to school, DDSB staff have been working to confirm and finalize plans in order to be ready to welcome students in schools this September. From what the school day will look like, to health and safety protocols and how we are setting up a Virtual School for those choosing to learn from home, we want to make sure that your child(ren) are able to learn in a way that prioritizes their health and well-being, safety, and individual human rights.

Yesterday, DDSB staff met with the Ministry of Education to share our return to school planning. The meeting was helpful in confirming our approach in terms of what the school day will look like with health and safety measures in place, and gave us an opportunity to share the concerns of families with the Ministry. We are now able to share with you the draft school schedules we presented to the Ministry and pending any further information from them, this is what we anticipate will be our plan.

We would like to thank all the families who contacted us with questions about the return to school. Due to the volume of questions received, it is taking us some time to respond to all of you. We apologize for this delay in response times. Since our last communication to you, we have launched the Return to School Website and are continuing to update our Frequently Asked Questions to provide families with important information as quickly as possible. We encourage you to visit the website and the FAQ to see if any questions you may have are there and to receive timely updates on the return to school this September.

On behalf of everyone at the DDSB, we would once again like to thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through a very complex and challenging set of circumstances. Our priority is to ensure that we provide your child(ren) with high quality learning opportunities in the safest way possible during this unusual time.

 

With thanks,
Norah Marsh
Acting Director of Education

 

Draft Return to School Guide – Health and Safety

To support DDSB staff in safely welcoming back students for September, we have developed a Return to School Guide. The Guide is currently in its first edition and will continue to undergo revisions as we receive further direction from the Ministry of Education. We have shared the Guide with the Durham Region Health Department and it contains their feedback. The Guide helps provide a clearer picture of the different measures that we will be taking for a safe return to school. You can access the Guide here: https://www.ddsb.ca/en/whats-happening/resources/Documents/Return-to-School/DRAFT-Return-to-School-Guide-Edition-1-Final.pdf

It is important to know that classes and school will not look the same. Aside from the information in the Return to School Guide, we are working with the provincial association for each subject area (i.e. gym, music, art, etc.) and public health on the safest possible practices. We will be providing updated information on subject-specific areas in the coming weeks.

Elementary Schools

Elementary students will attend school five days per week, with students grouped together in a cohort for the full day, including recess and lunch. Students will still receive 300 minutes of face-to-face educator instruction. Enhanced health and safety protocols will be in place (i.e. enhanced cleaning, handwashing breaks, students eating lunch in their classroom, etc.) and the full range of the elementary curriculum will be provided. The school day will be very similar to what families and students are used to, with the exception of potential changes around bell times and staggered times for entry, exit and recess. While class sizes will remain the same, we will make every effort within available resources to ease any potential pressures on class sizes in order to create physical distancing of students where possible. Students in grades JK to 3 will be encouraged to wear masks and students in grades 4 to 8 will be required to wear a mask.

Here is a sample timetable for elementary schools (please note that some schools may have 40-minute periods):

 Draft Sample Schedule for Elementary Schools

Secondary Schools

Secondary schools in Durham will open with a hybrid model that combines in-person and remote learning. Students will be placed in cohorts of approximately 15 students, will attend every other day and on alternate Fridays. This will be delivered in a “quadmester” format which involves a four-semester school year for each quadmester. This limits the number of contacts students have in a day and provides the opportunity to earn two credits at a time. Each quadmester is approximately 45 days of instruction (9.5 weeks). Students will be required to wear masks while in school and the same enhanced health and safety protocols will be implemented.

Each day, students will have the opportunity to attend a Study Hall staffed by a teacher to provide additional assistance with independent work.

The DDSB will be reviewing programming for students with a high level of special education needs who may require daily attendance and instruction at the secondary level.

Here is a draft sample schedule of what the hybrid quadmester schedule will look like.

Sample Schedule of the Secondary Hybrid Model

Remote Learning

Families can choose whether their child(ren) will learn in-person at school or remotely from home in a Virtual School. To help you with that decision, we are now able to provide additional information to families on what remote learning from home will look like.

  • The DDSB will be creating a separate “Virtual School” with a Principal and Vice Principals to manage this effort.
  • The day will be structured much like a regular class with periods.
  • DDSB educators will be providing instruction.
  • It is expected that students enrolled in the Virtual School attend class and participate in the same way that they would in an in-person school.

Elementary Remote Learning

For elementary families who choose to have their child(ren) learn remotely from home with programming based on the full Ontario curriculum. Educators will provide students with approximately 300 minutes of daily learning opportunities through RealTime (live as a large or small teacher-led group) learning and some FlexTime (independent) learning where they undertake activities that are provided by the teacher. A daily schedule will be followed that is age-appropriate. Students will be expected to attend daily and progress will be assessed on a regular basis as it would be in-person.

Draft Sample Schedule for Elementary Remote Learning

Secondary Remote Learning

Secondary students learning remotely from home will follow a schedule similar to in-person learning, but with students attending a virtual classroom daily. Student instruction will follow the same “quadmester” format as secondary students learning in-person, but without the need for students to be grouped into cohorts. Students will be assessed regularly as they would be in-person with a focus on both demonstrating an understanding of concepts and the collection of student work.

Each day, students will have the opportunity to attend a Study Hall staffed by a teacher to provide additional assistance with independent work.

Here is a draft schedule of what a virtual school day will look like for a secondary student: 

Draft Sample Schedule for Secondary Remote Learning

Choosing Between Remote and In-Person Learning

As mentioned in an earlier communication, families will have until Wednesday August 12 to choose whether their child(ren) will be learning remotely from home or in-person at a school. We will be sending a follow-up e-mail to all families later today with instructions on how to make your selection.

Families will now be able to modify their selection by using the same student specific link prior to the August 12 deadline. There have been a few cases where families who have multiple child(ren) in DDSB schools have only received one link, instead of multiple. For those families, we ask that you first check your “spam/junk mail folder”. If you did not receive the link for your child, please e-mail parentportal@ddsb.ca with the specific details (Name, School, Parent Name, OEN Number, etc.) for your child(ren) and our IT Services Department will look into it and address.

With the need to establish a Virtual School to effectively deliver remote learning across the district for thousands of students, families may not be able to immediately transfer between remote and in-person learning as changes in enrollment will impact staffing and class sizes. As a result, moving between remote and in-person learning may take place at the end of an instructional period (i.e. each term at the elementary level and each quadmester at the secondary level). Individual requests to move between remote and in-person learning will be examined on a case-by-case basis pending class size availability.

We understand that it may not be an easy decision for some families to make. We encourage you to explore the DDSB’s return to school webpage, read the Draft Return to School Guide and visit the FAQ that we have developed before making your decision.

Bus Transportation Survey

Durham Student Transportation Services (DSTS) is the student transportation provider for both the DDSB and the Durham Catholic District School Board. Families who are eligible for student transportation are in the process of receiving a voice message from DSTS asking you to complete a survey to help them prepare for the upcoming school year.

The survey informs your school, your bus driver and DSTS if your child will/or will not be taking the school bus to school. This is necessary information to ensure that they have proper student counts on all bus routes. In order to be assigned to a school bus route, you must complete the survey no later than Tuesday, August 11th. If you have further questions about bus transportation, please contact DSTS by visiting their contact us page.

For families who receive student transportation, please fill out the survey and read their specific FAQ at: https://www.dsts.on.ca/covid-19

July 30, 2020 - Return to School Update

Dear Parents/Guardians,

This afternoon, we learned of the Government of Ontario’s plan for the return to school in September. In that plan, we learned today that the Durham District School Board (DDSB) will see a full return to school at the elementary level and a hybrid return for the secondary level.

The return to school will include enhanced health and safety protocols, based on the recommendations of public health officials. Students in Grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear non-medical or cloth masks indoors in school, including in hallways and during classes. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be encouraged to wear masks in indoor spaces.

There are still several details that we are waiting to receive from the Ministry of Education that we will need to review. In this e-mail, we are providing you with the information that we know to be accurate. We understand that families will have additional questions and we have attached a Frequently Asked Questions document to this message.

The Ministry of Education has scheduled a meeting with DDSB staff next week to discuss planning for the return to school. It is our goal that after the meeting to continue our work with the Durham Region Health Department to confirm details within our return to school plan and will share that information with you.

Elementary Schools (Kindergarten to Grade 8)

Elementary school students will attend school 5 days per week, with students grouped together in a cohort for the full day, including recess and lunch. Enhanced health and safety protocols will be in place and the full range of elementary curriculum will be provided.

Specific details about bell times will be provided once we have more information about school busing.

Secondary Schools (Grades 9 to 12)

Secondary schools in Durham will open with a hybrid model that combines in-person and remote learning. Students will be placed in groups of approximately 15 students, attending on alternate schedules. The DDSB will be reviewing programming for students with a high level of special education needs who may require daily attendance and instruction at the secondary level.

Specific details about when students will attend in-person and bell times will be provided once we receive more information.

Details on Opting-Out of In-Person Learning

Families will be able to decide if their child(ren) will return to in-person learning at a school site or if they will be opting-out of in-person learning.

Direction from the Ministry of Education indicates that students may not necessarily be able to move between remote and in-person learning, and families should anticipate the possibility to be wait-listed if they change their minds.

Students engaging in remote learning may not participate with students and teachers from their own school. We may be required to create virtual classrooms where students across the district in similar grades are attached to a teacher who will deliver online instruction.

Families will be receiving an e-mail on Friday July 31 on how to opt-out their child(ren). If families do not opt-out by the deadline of Wednesday August 12, it is assumed that their child(ren) will be attending school in-person.

Bus Transportation Survey

An online sign-up for bus transportation will be required this year. Families who qualify for bus transportation will receive a separate e-mail next week with the survey link and more information. They will be required to complete the online sign-up for each of their children in order for them to ride the bus.

Return to School Website

We are in the process of launching a Return to School page and Frequently Asked Questions at www.ddsb.ca that will provide updated information on a regular basis. This page will be launched in the coming days.

Health and Safety

The DDSB is developing a comprehensive return to school guide based on the direction of the Government of Ontario and in consultation with the Durham Region Health Department to help make our schools safe for everyone to return in September. Some of the steps that we will be taking include frequent handwashing protocols, COVID-19 protocols, enhanced cleaning and disinfection of schools, daily self-assessment requirements and other measures.

As we work towards the return to school in September, we will continue to prioritize the health, safety and well-being of students and staff. Thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we carefully plan for the return to school, working within government direction and the public health recommendations. Please continue to stay safe.

 

Sincerely, Norah Marsh
Acting Director of Education

 

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