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COVID-19 Update to Families #30 – December 16, 2020

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COVID-19 Update to Families #30 – December 16, 2020

December 16, 2020

Dear Families,

We have come a long way since we reopened schools in September. At that time, the COVID-19 restrictions and the implementation of our new school procedures seemed overwhelming. Thanks to our shared commitment towards health and safety, we continue to support students in their learning.

Enhanced public health measures

As we prepare for a much-needed winter break, we must not lose sight of the public health measures before us. Hamilton Public Health Services has prepared the following reminders to Protect Yourself and Others and to keep our communities safe from COVID-19:

Continue practicing regular habits that help stop the spread of COVID-19

·        Monitor your symptoms and stay home if you are feeling ill. The daily screening can be used as a tool to determine if you are sick. Self-screening will be more important than ever when returning to school in January.

·        Wash your hands regularly with soap and water. Be sure to scrub for at least 20 seconds.

·        Wear a face covering when physical distancing is not possible.

·        Cover your mouth/nose when coughing or sneezing. Be sure to use your sleeve or a tissue.

·        Download the COVID Alert mobile app.

Avoid gathering with people outside your household and travelling during the break 

·        Do not attend any events or social events. A virtual gathering is a great substitute when looking to celebrate with family and friends.

·        Stay at home with your family. It is important to limit your number of close contacts. Only leave the house for essential trips and keep a log of where you go.

·        Do not travel over the winter break unless it is essential. If you do travel, follow local guidelines and use the  screening tool when it comes to monitoring your symptoms and self-isolating when you arrive/return.

·        Learn more about how to celebrate safely during COVID-19.

Mental health and well-being support

Remember to look after your mental health and well-being this holiday season. Practice self-care and reach out to someone. If you are well, you will be in a better position to support the others around you.

Visit the We Help web page for tips and resources that can help improve mental health and well-being, as well as crisis outreach and support details for all ages.

COVID-19 case management communication expectations

From Friday, Dec. 18 to Sunday, Jan. 3, School Messenger notifications will only be used to alert close contacts or to inform the community related to outbreak status. There will be no courtesy School Messenger notifications to school communities informing them about a positive case at a particular school. Parents, guardians and caregivers can continue to find information about confirmed cases via:

Learning at HWDSB

Remote Readiness

A decision to close schools or move from in-person to remote learning would be made by the Ministry of Education or Hamilton Public Health Services. At this time, there has been no direction to close or move to remote after the winter break. We will inform families through a School Messenger notification should a change in our learning models be required. Students should bring home all personal items from school prior to the break.

Should there be a need to pivot schools to remote in the new year, we will engage our Remote Readiness Plan for elementary schools similar to what was done last spring. Our team will be prepared to deploy devices based on identified needs within our current inventory. We are actively increasing the number of devices available for deployment (e.g., reassigned from other areas in the Board, returned devices not being used, and new purchases).

Elementary Transitions

The next formal transition date for changes between remote and in-person learning will be during the week of February 22, 2021. This is after the Term 1 Report Card goes home. The Parent Portal will be open between January 18 and 22, 2021 so that families who want a change in February can complete a survey there.

If a family has extraordinary circumstances and needs to request a change earlier, they should contact their school principal who will consider it and make a record of that request. We will share more information about the survey and the transition during the week of January 11, 2021. See Elementary Transitions for more information.

Secondary school update

An important update is available for our secondary students and families about Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting. The Secondary School Update outlines exam cancellation details, Student Success Days (January 25-29, 2021), and other important strategies to support student achievement. In a recent Student Learning and Achievement Report, we shared that our mid-term marks indicate that students are not having the same success as this time last year. Staff are committed to strategies that will support students in earning their credits, all outlined in our secondary update.


Throughout the fall, we secured new bus drivers and began to see the number of rotating cancelled bus routes gradually decrease. In November, we were able to further reduce the number of routes in the rotating schedule. We are pleased to share that as of Dec. 14, the rotating cancelled route schedule has ended.

Stay well, be safe, and have a restful holiday,

Manny Figueiredo
Director of Education

Updated on Wednesday, December 16, 2020.
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