Return to Learn

As we prepare for the return to learning in September, our priority is the safety and well-being of students and staff at the Thames Valley District School Board. We have involved our local Health Units as key partners in our planning, while also following the guidance and direction of the Ministry of Education to ensure that our schools and workplaces are prepared, and staff and students experience a successful return.

We recognize the importance of the ‘school life experience’ prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and we remain committed to providing as robust an educational program as possible, given health and safety regulations. We are looking forward to welcoming students and staff back to in-person learning and continuing to support learners who require virtual instruction. 

This website outlines important information about what a school day will look like, our continued and revised health and safety practices, well-being resources, and more. Ongoing contact with the community will occur throughout the school year to provide further details about specific school-level information and board-wide updates.

Digital Learning Technology
Digital Learning Platforms
All students in TVDSB in both the In-person Learning Model and Virtual Learning Model will be connected to a Digital Learning Platform (Brightspace or Google Classroom). Students will be provided with support, if required, to use these platforms.

Thames Valley asks all parents and guardians to keep in mind that public health officials may require schools to shift to remote learning as a result of the pandemic during the school year. Continuity of learning for our students will be supported if this transition occurs.

To support parents and guardians with understanding how to use these platforms, we have created several resources, which include videos, user guides and FAQs. These resources can be found at https://www.tvdsb.ca/en/parents/supports-for-parents-and-guardians.aspx and are available in multiple languages. Parents and guardians should reach out to their child(ren)’s teachers to learn more about the digital platform used for this school year. 

Technology Devices for Students
Students who are participating in virtual learning may request a loaned TVDSB device, if required. This device request should be made by the family through the student’s home school. Students who are attending in-person classes may access TVDSB computing devices while at school. 

Do you need Technology or Software Support? 

Supporting Our Students
Supporting Our Students with Special Needs

Supporting students with special education needs will continue to be a priority. All staff in the TVDSB Special Education Department will actively support students in all learning models. School-based staff (e.g., Learning Support Teachers and Educational Assistants) will work as a multi-disciplinary team to collaborate with the classroom and Virtual Learning Teachers, students, and their families to ensure students with special education needs receive the support they need to be successful in any learning model.

Plans have been developed at each school to ensure that students with special needs are supported as they transition back to school. Professional Services staff will also work with individual school teams to develop and implement programs and services designed to fit students with special education needs, in support of their transition back to school.

The Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) process will be followed as per the TVDSB’s Special Education Plan 2021-2022. The completion of all Annual IPRC Reviews and new IPRCs will proceed either in person or in a virtual format (as per parent(s)/guardian(s) preference).   

  • Students will have access to their Special Education Assistive (SEA) Technology in the Virtual Learning model. This includes computing devices (iPads, Chromebooks, and laptops) as well as mobility devices, sensory equipment, etc. 

Supporting Student Mental Health and Well-Being

We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on students, their families and staff. We are prioritizing the creation of school community and connection. It is important for the conditions of psychological safety, belonging, inclusivity, and connection to be established as students return to learning in both learning models.

In both in-person and virtual learning, our TVDSB professional staff will continue to support and provide service to students. This may be through in-person, phone or virtual means. Professional Services staff will provide in-person consultation and support for educators on social-emotional and mental health and well-being strategies in the classroom. TVDSB will also support school staff with additional information that is provided in the School Mental Health Ontario learning framework and toolkit. 

See the TVDSB Mental Health and Well-Being website.

Supporting Students with Health Conditions

Some students will not be able to take part in the In-Person Learning model due to health conditions or other reasons. For this group of students, the Virtual Learning model will be provided and TVDSB will support these students in this model of learning. 

School Day Operations
Student Transportation

Our bussing service, Southwestern Transportation Services (STS), will follow recommendations from the local health units for the safe transportation of students. Please note school busses can operate at full capacity but, where possible, will limit capacity. 

Masks are required for all riders (Kindergarten-Grade 12). Seating plans are required and must be adhered to by riders of all ages to support contact tracing. 

STS reminds parents and guardians that bus stops are unsupervised and physical distancing is the responsibility of the students and their caregivers at the bus stop. 

For more information, including STS’s COVID-19 safety protocols, visit www.mybigyellowbus.ca.

Attendance
Attendance will be taken for all students attending both in-person and in our virtual classes. For in-person learners, schedules and records will be maintained when students are in areas of the building other than their classroom. This will assist us with contact tracing should a positive case of COVID-19 be determined. Daily attendance, taken several times throughout the day, will also be taken for any student participating in virtual learning as there is an expectation by the Ministry of Education that student attendance in this learning model be monitored.
Assemblies
To begin our school year, we will continue with virtual or outdoor assembliesIndoor assemblies may occur later in the school year.  
Cafeteria Use and Lunch Protocols

Students may eat together:

  • Outdoors, without distancing
  • Indoors, with a minimum distance of two metres maintained between cohorts and as much distancing as possible within a cohort.

Schools will limit the number of students and cohorts eating lunch in proximity to each other (examples include staggered lunch periods, eating outdoors or in alternative spaces) where necessary.

Capacity limits for cafeterias in secondary schools will be established to enable two metres distancing. At this time, cafeterias and vending machines will not be selling food products. This service is expected to resume in November.

Students are permitted to eat offsite.

Students are encouraged to bring their own drink bottle that is labeled with their name.

Food Programs
TVDSB will engage in a delayed start of food programs and non-instructional food events (such as pizza day). Schools may begin nutritional programs for studentsif facilitated by staff. Hot lunches and other school-wide food programs may begin later this Fall.  
Recess and Outdoor Breaks

Students do not need to stay within their cohort during recess and breaks outdoors, but distancing will be encouraged between cohorts as much as possible. 

Shared materials outdoors are permitted with appropriate hand hygiene. 

Extracurricular Activities

Thames Valley recognizes the importance of extracurricular activities for the mental and physical well-being of students. Extracurricular activities are voluntary activities that occur outside of the instructional day.

Extracurricular Activities for Elementary Students

Over the course of the next few weeks, planning will continue to support extracurricular activities for elementary students (i.e., athletics, clubs, music). Please note these are currently not in place yet in our schools. More information will follow.

Extracurricular Activities for Secondary Students

On the guidance of our local public health units, we have recently revised our protocols to allow students who have received their first COVID-19 vaccination dose to participate in extracurricular activities, such as clubs, music, and athletics. This is outlined below for families and students:

  • Please note: Once a student receives a first dose, they must wait 14 days before participating in extracurricular activities. 

Students who have received their first COVID-19 vaccination and wish to participate in extracurriculars must comply with the following mandatory requirements:

  • Complete and pass the daily COVID-19 School Screening Tool https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/    
  • Undergo COVID-19 rapid testing after receiving a first dose of vaccine.
  • Perform rapid testing on Sundays and Wednesdays.
  • Test results to be confirmed visually (i.e., photo, official receipt by pharmacy, etc.) with school staff on Mondays and Thursdays
  • Families are responsible for obtaining rapid tests, which may be purchased at pharmacies   
  • Once a second dose is received, full participation in extracurriculars may occur. Rapid testing will no longer be required once a second dose is received.

Those students who wish to participate in extracurricular activities during the 2021-2022 school year must be fully vaccinated no later than November 1, 2021. The process outlined above will only be available until November 1, 2021. 

Before and After School Programs
All Child Care Centres and Before/After School Programs are allowed to operate. These services are offered by third-party operators. Please contact the providers directly for more information.
Registration of New Students
Parents/guardians of new students are asked to register their child(ren) as soon as possible through our online pre-registration process.  Once the pre-registration documentation is received, parents/guardians will be provided with an appointment time to come to the school to show the appropriate documentation.  Medical masks are required for all visits to schools. 
Visitors
We anticipate we will have a gradual return to welcoming visitors to our schools. To start the school year, visitors to the school will be limited to those who are essential and who have been approved by the School Administration. More information will follow regarding the requirements for approved visitors. 
Community Use of Schools
Community use of schools is permitted provided activities are aligned with public health guidance and direction and TVDSB requirements.
Academic Programs and Requirements
Health and Physical Education

The use of gymnasiums, change rooms, weight rooms, indoor physical education equipment and shared outdoor equipment are permitted with distancing. Windows should be opened when feasible to increase ventilation. 

Masking is not required when playing high or low contact activities outdoors. Masking is encouraged for high-contact indoor sports where they can be worn safely. 

High-Contact Sports:

  • Basketball 
  • Football 
  • Hockey 
  • Lacrosse 
  • Rugby 
  • Soccer 
  • Wrestling 

Low-Contact Sports:

  • Badminton
  • Cross Country
  • Curling
  • Gymnastics
  • Swimming
  • Track & Field
  • Volleyball
Music

Elementary Music Programming (regular music class)

On the guidance of our local public health units, Thames Valley has recently revised our protocols for music instruction for elementary students. These are as follows:

Indoors:

  • Singing indoors is only permitted within a cohort (class).
  • Masking and physical distancing are required.
  • The use of wind instruments is permitted indoors only in well-ventilated places and ensuring physical distancing of students.

Outdoors:

  • Masking is required if physical distancing is not maintained among individuals within a cohort (class).
  • Singing is permitted outdoors with physical distancing maintained between cohorts; please note, this would be for choirs, when they commence at TVDSB schools.

Elementary Music Extracurriculars 

Over the course of the next few weeks, planning will continue to support extracurricular activities for elementary students (i.e., athletics, clubs, music). Please note these are currently not in place yet in our schools. More information will follow.

 

Secondary Music Programming (students enrolled in music courses) 

On the guidance of our local public health units, we have recently revised our protocols for music instruction for secondary students. These are as follows:  

Indoors:  

  •  
    • Singing indoors is only permitted within a cohort. 
    • Masking and physical distancing are required. 
    • The use of wind instruments is permitted indoors only in well-ventilated places and ensuring physical distancing of at least 2 metres between students. 

Repertoire (instruments and/or vocal): 

  •  
    • All repertoire classes must occur virtually as we have strict direction from the Ministry of Education indicating that only two instructional cohorts may occur daily. 

Secondary Music Extracurriculars  

The following is an update on enhanced measures for extracurricular activities for students participating in bands, choirs, etc.:  

  • Extracurricular singing/choir may only take place outdoors with masking and physical distancing. 
  • Extracurricular music with wind instruments may take place outdoors with physical distancing maintained between cohorts or indoors in well-ventilated spaces and if physical distancing of at least 2 metres is maintained. 
Cooperative Education
For students enrolled in cooperative education courses, in-person community placements may be arranged provided that relevant health and safety requirements can be maintained. If in-person placements are not possible, students may be offered virtual placements. 
Field Trips
Day trips and overnight stays are currently on hold. Field Trips to TVDSB's Environmental Education Centres are permitted provided supervision ratios are met by TVDSB staff only. 
Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO)

This year, regular EQAO assessments for students in Grades 3 and 6 will resume in the new online format for math, reading and writing in the spring of 2022.  The Grade 9 Math Assessment will also occur in online format. Future communication to families with students enrolled in Grade 9 Math will outline if this assessment may count towards a student's final mark.

EQAO assessments are required to be done in-person at the school. Students learning virtually can choose to participate in the EQAO assessments in person if all applicable health and safety measures can be met.  

Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT)
The OSSLT will be administered online this year for all in-person learners. Students who will graduate in 2021-22 are exempt from the literacy graduation requirement. More information will be provided by individual secondary schools. Students learning virtually can choose to participate in the OSSLT in person if all applicable health and safety measures can be met.
Community Involvement Graduation Requirements

The community involvement graduation requirement has been reduced from 40 hours to a minimum of 20 hours for students graduating in the 2021-22 school year. 

Temporary changes to reduce barriers students may face to earn their community involvement hours will continue for the 2021-22 school year. For the 2021-2022 school year eligible activities include: 

  • Activities that take place during the time allotted for the instructional program on a school day (e.g., walking a younger neighbour or sibling to and from school, helping younger siblings with their homework); 

  • Activities that include up to 10 hours of paid work, with the requirement to complete a reflection exercise indicating how their work contributed to service for others (e.g., grocery work during the pandemic); and  

  • Activities that consist of duties normally performed in the home (e.g., students could help an elderly relative with errands, provide after-school care for a sibling). 

The community involvement graduation requirement of 40 hours will be restored in 2022-23. Students are encouraged to take advantage of these more flexible activities and ensure that their hours are properly documented at the school in the upcoming school year. Students and families can connect with their guidance counsellors for additional information.

The health and safety of students, their families and staff are our priority.

We remain committed to the TVDSB community and will provide regular updates on our Return to Learn plans over the next month. As we work together to plan for our return to learn and work, we value the collaboration of our stakeholders and partners.

Our TVDSB priorities are our commitments to relationships, equity and diversity, student achievement and well-being and these will continue to guide our work together as we plan for the safe return to learn at TVDSB.

More Resources

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

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