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COVID-19 Update – November 2021

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COVID-19 Update – November 2021

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In this update, families can read about:

Keep up to date on the latest COVID updates. Questions or comments? Please email [email protected] 

Access the COVID-19 Advisory Dashboard for the most current confirmed case data. 

Mental health supports – please see supports as the pandemic’s challenges continue.

Chair and Director Message   

With each publication of our COVID-19 Update for Families, we reflect on the current state of the pandemic and the impact on student learning, well-being and school operations. We feel more and more optimistic that we are moving closer towards recovery and healing from this pandemic.

As we await Health Canada’s approval of the pediatric vaccine, we are hopeful that this layer of protection will be the most significant advantage for our elementary population. We look forward to our schools returning to their optimal conditions without the need for public health restrictions.

In the meantime, there are several measures that are in place, or available to us. For example, Hamilton Public Health Services can deploy Rapid Antigen Testing for students in the event of high-risk situations. We are pleased to see that October COVID-19 case numbers are trending downward.

We eagerly await the decision from the Ministry of Education about the return to regular semester model in secondary schools for February 2022. Students would like to be prepared for second semester and they have shared that transitions and changes in routines are disruptive to their learning.

The pandemic continues to grow weary on us. These are difficult times. Our school leaders, especially principals, vice-principals and school staff, are being commended for their efforts. They are managing COVID-19 safety protocols while increasing regular school operations.

We remind our communities about the importance of kindness. We have unfortunately experienced some unacceptable behaviour directed towards our school administrators from parents and caregivers who oppose safety protocols. We ask everyone to be respectful, to be kind, and to adhere to HWDSB’s Code of Conduct.

We have every confidence in our school leaders’ ability to support families and problem-solve issues of concern. We will get through this together. Thank you for putting the health, safety and well-being of our students first.


Dawn Danko, Chair of the Board  
Manny Figueiredo, Director of Education

Public Health Measures  

School validation of the provincial screening tool 

With COVID-19 cases and key trends remaining low in our community, Hamilton Public Health Services is cautiously lifting the requirement to confirm the completion of daily screening in schools. Students must continue to self-screen before the start of the school day, but schools are no longer required to verify screening for students. 

This decision does not change other public health measures that continue to be important in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our schools. Students, staff and visitors must continue to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms every day before going to school. Other important measures include getting vaccinated if eligible, masking, physical distancing, and staying home when sick. 

Public Health will monitor local trends and adjust enhanced public health measures accordingly. Thank you for helping us keep schools open and safe. 

Staff Immunization Disclosure and Testing 

We are encouraged by data being tracked through the Ministry Immunization Disclosure Policy that applies to staff. Of those school board employees and trustees who have submitted an attestation, 94% of individuals have attested to being fully vaccinated.

As of Thursday, November 4, 2021, 4 p.m.: School Board Employees and Trustees
# %
Total number of individuals to which the policy will apply. 7,057 100
Total number of individuals who have attested to being fully vaccinated (with and without supporting documentation). 6,578 92.89
Total number of individuals who have attested to being unvaccinated. 376 5.31
Total number of individuals who have attested to a documented medical reason for not being fully vaccinated. 25 0.35
The number of individuals who have not yet submitted an attestation form, if known. 96 1.36

Community Use of Schools 

We are excited that community groups can now apply to rent school facilities during the 2021-2022 school year outside of school hours. 

HWDSB is committed to the health and safety of students, staff, partners, community users and visitors to our schools. Municipal, Provincial or Federal Health regulations should always be adhered to when using any of the Board’s facilities. 

Rental guidelines are fluid due to the dynamic nature of the pandemic. Permit holders should make every effort to stay apprised of those guidelines for their participant’s safety. Please keep in mind that as the Province or Public Health lifts or imposes restrictions, we may have to adjust plans, as required. We also encourage you to work with Hamilton’s Public Health officials for the most recent safety protocols. 

Please note that anyone age 12 and over using a rented gym must be vaccinated, and no one other than those using the space are allowed in the schools during a rental.

Last Friday we welcomed back our first community group to our facilities. Staff continue to approve requests that align with our focus on safe, youth programming.

To guide users, we have added a COVID-19 section on the Rentals web page. We have also addressed common questions about rentals during the pandemic in our Frequently Asked Questions, which covers proof of vaccination, screening, spectators and more.  


On October 28, the province announced that the Government Takes Further Action to Protect Schools. Board chair Dawn Danko noted that HWDSB welcomes the news, and will continue to work closely with Hamilton Public Health Services to maintain a layered approach to COVID-19 prevention.  

We will share local details of expanded testing options when they are available for our school communities. We know that access to COVID-19 testing can be a challenge for families, and we welcome measures that will help students continue to learn in person with their peers, while keeping our students and staff healthy and safe.  

Indoor Athletics Spectator Protocol for 2021-22 Season 

HWDSB Athletics continues to focus on a safe return to sport for all students while minimizing the operational impact on school staff and resources. While spectators are an important part of normal sports culture, the Ministry of Education and Local Public Health Unit require schools and school boards to follow additional guidelines not required by community sport. 

Outdoor spectators have been operationalized and implemented. Indoor spectators will ONLY be allowed at secondary playoff and championship events. No spectators will be permitted for secondary regular season games. Championship events for indoor games generally occur from November 15 to 22. SOSSA indoor events will occur on November 23. 

Due to the nature of the facilities, spectators at elementary gymnasiums for indoor sports events will NOT be permitted. Learn more.

International Travel

While unvaccinated children under the age of 12 are exempt from federal quarantine if they travelled in the company of someone who qualified for an exemption from quarantine based on vaccination status, they may not attend school or child care for 14 days upon their return. The Federal Government has included this direction on this web page for returning travelers. Individuals with all other quarantine exemptions (e.g., travelling for cross-border custody arrangements; travelling for medical treatment) may continue to attend school or childcare. 

Learning at HWDSB 

The Minister confirmed that the government is reviewing the structure for secondary schools in semester 2 with the chief medical officer of health.  A decision will likely not be made immediately as most current data is required but the Minister did confirm that he understands that the decision is time sensitive. 

Progress Reports and Parent-Teacher Conferences for Elementary Students  

Elementary Progress Reports will be shared with all families on Friday, November 19.    

In-person learners will receive a paper copy from their school. Families of students in Remote Learning will receive their Progress Reports via Digital Document Delivery.   

Parents and caregivers who wish to discuss their child/ren’s progress should contact their child’s educator. Please note that there is no scheduled P.A. Day for parent-teacher conferences this term.

Secondary Quadmester Dates, Exams and Student Success Days 

Today, November 9, marks the last day of Secondary Quadmester One. Student Success Days will be held from November 10 to 12, and the first day of classes for Quadmester Two will take place on Monday, November 15. 

Quadmester One Reports for Secondary Students will be shared via Digital Document Delivery on Monday, November 22.  

Secondary Student Volunteer Hours 

For students graduating in the 2021-2022 school year, the Ministry of Education has temporarily revised the 40-hour community involvement graduation requirement so that students will not be adversely impacted by the ongoing challenges related to COVID-19. Graduating students will be asked to complete a minimum of 20 hours of community involvement activities.  

Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) 

The OSSLT measures whether students are meeting the minimum standard for literacy across all subjects up to the end of Grade 9. While successful completion of the test is one of the requirements to earn an Ontario Secondary School Diploma, this requirement has been waived for students graduating during the 2021-22 school year. Graduating students do not need to take the OSSLT in 2021-22. Learn more here: https://www.eqao.com/the-assessments/osslt/. 

Getting Ready for High School – Virtual Information Session

This event will provide students with the information they need as they transition from elementary to secondary school. Students and their families will learn more about what to expect in Grade 9, including timelines, processes and more. Participants will be able to ask questions at the end of the session. 

When: November 16, 2021, from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. 
Where: Join via MS Teams at https://hwdsb.info/HSinfonight

Individual school information nights will take place in January 2022.  

French Immersion – Virtual Information Night 

Families of Senior Kindergarten students interested in applying for French Immersion are invited to join a virtual information session on MS Teams. 

When: Thursday, November 18, 2021, from 7:00-8:00 p.m. 
Where: Join via MS Teams at https://hwdsb.info/FI-infonight  

A copy of the presentation will be made on the French Immersion site at www.hwdsb.on.ca/fi. For more information, visit the French Immersion site or talk to your school principal.  

Program of the Arts at Glendale – Virtual Information Night  

HWDSB Audition-Based Program of the Arts trains students in all aspects of the Arts. Students major in one of eight disciplines: Dance, Drama (Performance and Production), Music (Instrumental including Guitar, Strings, Vocal), Visual or Media Arts. In addition to academic credit, students will have the opportunity for experiential learning beyond the classroom.  

When: November 18, 2021 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Where: Join via MS Teams at https://hwdsb.info/program-arts  

Westmount High School – Virtual Information Night

Students, Parents and Caregivers are welcome to Westmount Secondary School on November 25th at 7 pm to learn more about Westmount Secondary School’s self-directed and self-paced program delivery.  

When: November 25, 2021 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. 
Where: Join via MS Teams at https://hwdsb.info/westmount-infonight   

International Baccalaureate (IB) Night at HWDSB – Virtual Information Session

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program is a challenging two-year curriculum for Grade 11 and 12 students which leads to a qualification recognized by the world’s top universities. Learn more about IB at HWDSB at this session. 

When: December 1, 2021, from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. 
Where: Join via MS Teams at https://hwdsb.info/IB-infonight 

What is De-Streaming? Virtual Information Night

This session will explain what de-streaming is, detail what’s new and what has changed in the current curriculum, show how a de-streamed math course provides entry points for all students, and explore how teaching and learning is approached in a de-streamed classroom so that all students reach their full potential.

When: Wednesday, December 8, 2021 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. 
Where: Join via MS Teams at https://hwdsb.info/de-streaming   

Updated on Friday, November 12, 2021.
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