Elementary Students Return to In-Person Learning on Monday, January 17

Posted On Wednesday January 12, 2022

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Earlier today, the Ministry of Education officially announced that all schools in Ontario will return to in-person learning on Monday, January 17 and all in-person schools will resume a full-day schedule. We understand that this change may be stressful for some families, and we acknowledge the uncertainty that some of you may be feeling during this period of continued change.

We know how important your child’s educators and school administration are to you in answering questions. With the move back to in-person learning, their first responsibility will be to support the health and safety of students who are in the school building. For that reason, there may be a delay in their communications with individual families. Please be patient as they focus on creating a safe and welcoming school environment.

We are sharing some updates with you below as part of this message to elementary families. Your school principal will be in touch with more updates later this week as they become available. We ask for your patience so that we can prepare up-to-date and accurate information to share with you.


Norah Marsh
Director of Education

Testing and Masks

The Ministry has indicated that they are providing two COVID-19 rapid antigen tests for in-person students and staff, and we will share more information on this as we receive it. They have also provided a supply of high-quality three-ply cloth masks that schools will be distributing to students. In addition, all staff are being offered non-fit tested N95 masks to wear while working in-person.

Sharing COVID-19 Data in Schools

Following a motion from the DDSB Board of Trustees, we are preparing to share data to the extent it is available, on confirmed and presumed cases of COVID-19 in DDSB schools, including self-reporting of COVID-19 test results. We will also be sharing information on school and class closures and unusual rates of absenteeism in schools. Our goal is to be as transparent as possible with families through this public reporting.

In addition, we have received direction from the Chief Medical Officer of Health to report absenteeism that is at or above 30% and the Durham Regional Health Department will then support the school in terms of any key steps families or schools need to take. However, we will be reporting out absenteeism publicly by school when it reaches 15%.

Short-Term Temporary FlexTime Asynchronous Remote Learning

We understand that students will be away from school if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or because students are waiting to transfer to DDSB@Home. Classroom educators will do their best to provide FlexTime learning activities for students through their Google Classroom. In addition, to support student learning, we will also be providing a temporary broadcast remote learning program for families. This option will not be available until mid-week next week and will be accessed through a published website link.

Broadcast learning will be like a television broadcast and involve DDSB educators providing instruction for approximately one hour in the morning and approximately one hour in the afternoon with learning activities and materials on key topics from the Ontario curriculum. These materials will not be graded and will link to Ministry of Education provided videos and activities. This will not be interactive, or two-way learning, and is simply intended to provide a short-term measure to support families while students are learning at home and will end in mid-February. 

Opportunity to Change Learning Mode

Starting on Friday, January 14, 2022 at 12:01 a.m., elementary families wanting to change their child’s learning preference to/from DDSB@Home can visit the Parent Portal to make the change. We will be sending you a separate message on Friday with more instructions on how to do this. 

If you are satisfied with your current selection, you do not need to do anything further. Your child will remain registered in their current mode of learning. We ask that you please consider both options thoroughly before making your final decision, as we will only be offering the option to change your response until Friday, January 21, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. This decision will be considered final for the rest of the school year. If you have decided to switch learning preferences, we are anticipating transfers to take place during the week of February 14.

Please note: Depending upon the number of transfer requests received, there may be an impact on staffing, and this could result in class restructuring where some students may have new teachers. 

Kindergarten Mask Requirements

The DDSB Board of Trustees has mandated that students in kindergarten are now required to wear a mask. Here are a few activities that families can practice with students to help encourage wearing a mask.

Student Technology

We will not be asking students to return technology to schools at this time because there may be the possibility of students needing to learn remotely from home for a variety of reasons. However, there may be certain days where you child’s educator asks that students bring in DDSB provided technology for use on that day in-class. We will share additional updates on student technology as they become available.

Potential Impact on School Staffing

With the spread of the Omicron variant, it is expected that more people will be required to self-isolate due to being in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 and this challenge, like in all employment sectors, will have an impact upon the staffing of schools. We will be taking additional steps to help reduce the possibility of school closures including combining classes or assigning students to different classes to ensure adequate and effective supervision. We will continue to be following class size standards in all scenarios.

While closing a school is our last option, we want to highlight the possibility that individual schools may need to close to ensure that children remain safe and have appropriate levels of supervision. While we will endeavour to provide as much notice as possible to parents/guardians, this may not always be possible and there may be times where parents/guardians are notified of a school closure on short notice.

Rotating Planned School Closures

As a strategy to mitigate the emergency closures of schools, the Ministry of Education has authorized up to one day/week where schools may do planned closures.  At this time, the DDSB will not be implementing this strategy. However, we do anticipate that each elementary school will be closed for one day between now and Family Day Weekend to alleviate staffing shortages. More information will be provided from individual schools with notice. 

Getting Vaccinated

Vaccination continues to be the most effective strategy to reduce COVID-19 transmission and the severity of symptoms. Please get vaccinated if you have not already done so, and if you are eligible for a second or third dose, please consider booking an appointment to help provide yourself with additional protection. Please read the notice below for an update from the Durham Region Health Department.

Increased Number of Vaccination Appointments

The Health Department has increased COVID-19 vaccine appointments at community immunization clinics in Durham Region. Over 10, 0000 appointments have been made available until January 17. This includes appointments for school staff over 30+ and children/youth 5 – 17 years old. The Health Department continues to open 200 - 400 additional appointments daily for those aged 30 and older related to late cancellations and no shows. To book an appointment, visit www.durham.ca/vaccineappointment

Lakeridge Health

Lakeridge Health offers immunization to individuals 5 years of age and older. The clinic is located at 2200 Simcoe Street North, Oshawa and operates from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., 7 days a week. Call 905-571-3344 for more information.

Grandview Kids Clinics

Grandview Kids is offering COVID-19 vaccine appointments for Durham residents 5 – 17 years of age. These clinics provide a child-friendly environment in an accessible building. Children and youth do not need to be a client of Grandview Kids to access this service. To book an appointment for your child or youth, visit Grandview Kids.

Carea Immunization Clinics

The south Oshawa location of Carea Community Health Centre (115 Grassmere Ave., Oshawa) is offering Moderna vaccine to individuals aged 30 and older, by appointment only. First, second and third doses are available between January 10th and January 25th. Call 1-877-227-3217 for more information and to book an appointment.

GO-VAXX Mobile Clinics

COVID-19 vaccines are also available for individuals ages 5 and older through the provincial GO-VAXX program. This program uses GO transit buses as vaccine clinics. These clinics are available by appointment only. Find out when, where and how to book an appointment to get vaccinated at a GO-VAXX bus clinic.

Pharmacies and Health Care Providers

Designated health care providers and pharmacy locations in the community are offering COVID-19 vaccines to individuals 5 years of age and older. Appointments are typically required. Check with the health care provider or pharmacy directly before you go.

For more information, please visit durham.ca/covidvaccines