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Recording of Return to In-Person Learning Session Now Available

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Recording of Return to In-Person Learning Session Now Available

Families who were unable to attend the Parent Involvement Committee’s virtual information session on the Return to In-Person Learning can view the recording below:

See below for answers to questions from the HWDSB community.

General Questions


Questions  Answers 
Will we be notified if there is a positive case of COVID in our child’s class?  Parents will be asked to self-report positive COVID results to schools if their child receives a positive result on a PCR test or rapid antigen test. Information on self-reported, unconfirmed cases reported to schools will be shared on school webpages. 
Will my child’s class be dismissed if there is a positive COVID case?  Under updated Ministry of Health guidance, Hamilton Public Health Services will no longer be using cohort-based dismissals for positive cases. Students and staff in a school setting are generally no longer considered high-risk contacts requiring isolation. We ask families and our staff to monitor for symptoms and complete the daily screening. 
Even though classes are not being dismissed, will parents be able to keep their children at home if there is a positive case in their class?   Families who are concerned about exposure to COVID after a positive test result in their child’s class can contact their school to discuss a temporary absence.  
Is there a mask mandate for students, parents, staff and visitors who are in-person on a school property?   Yes, the Board has a protocol that covers student masks, another for visitors and separately for staff as well. 
When would a student receive a rapid antigen or PCR test from their school?   PCR tests are being provided while supplies last to students and staff experiencing symptoms while at school and needing to isolate. 

Rapid antigen test kits will begin to be distributed at the end of this week. 

If a student has COVID, how long do they have to stay home?   If fully vaccinated or under 12 years old, 5 days after symptom onset or test date (whichever is earlier) and with symptoms improving for at least 24 hours (48 hours if GI symptoms) and no fever. 


If not fully vaccinated or if immunocompromised, 10 days after symptom onset or test date (whichever is earlier) and with symptoms improving for at least 24 hours (48 hours if GI symptoms) and no fever. 


Students who test negative may be able to return earlier. 

Which classes have a HEPA filter and which classes do not?  Schools with Tier 3 ventilation (exhaust only) and kindergarten classrooms in all schools have been supplied with HEPA units. A list of Tier 3 schools can be found on our Ventilation page.
Will parents be permitted to purchase or raise funds for HEPA filters for classrooms that do not have them?   The Ministry of Education requires school boards to use the HEPA air purifiers provided by, or purchase HEPA air purifiers through, the provincial procurement guidance of the Ontario Government. 

From the perspective of fundraising, we are not permitting school councils or individuals to raise funds for HEPA units. In addition to this inventory being under the controlled guidance of procurement practices as well as the enhanced public health efforts, raising funds for these units can create inequity among some school communities. More affluent school communities may be disproportionately advantaged compared to other school communities impacted by lower socio-economic conditions. 

Also, once we receive any HEPA units, they require filters, and the Board would have to include the annual costs of filters in their operating budget moving forward. 

Can parents build Corsi-Rosenthal (CR) boxes for use in classrooms?  CR boxes are not approved for use in classrooms.  
Without testing available to students, how HWDSB inform families of the number of COVID cases in schools?   Schools will not be able to confirm the number of positive cases. However, self-reported cases whose results are not confirmed will be shared on school webpages daily by 6 p.m. 
Will students in short-term virtual learning be considered absent or in attendance?  Families of students registered for in-person learning who choose to temporarily learn from home due to COVID-19 concerns can speak to their child/ren’s principal to complete a Temporary Excusal Form.

By completing this form, a student’s absence from in-person learning will receive a code to show that they are excused from school for a set period of time. Families can reach out to the schools to let them know their child will be coming back when they are ready to return to in-person learning.

If a student is symptomatic and receives a negative COVID test result (PCR or RAT), how long must they remain at home before they can return to school? All students, staff and visitors must pass the provincial COVID-19 School and Child Care screening in order to go to school. Students with symptoms should stay home and not attend school until at least 24 hours since their symptoms started improving (or 48 hours for symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea). Please follow the directions provided in the screening tool. 
Will my student be tested for COVID at school without parental consent?  No. Students will not be tested at school. Symptomatic students will receive a take-home COVID test (PCR or RAT) to use at home. Staff will not be administering COVID tests to students. 
 Will staff or students be allowed to return to school if they had a positive COVID test result and have completed their 5 days of isolation?  Guidelines on returning to school are as follows:

  • If fully vaccinated or under 12 years old, 5 days after symptom onset or test date (whichever is earlier) and with symptoms improving for at least 24 hours (48 hours if GI symptoms) and no fever.
  • If not fully vaccinated or if immunocompromised, 10 days after symptom onset or test date (whichever is earlier) and with symptoms improving for at least 24 hours (48 hours if GI symptoms) and no fever.
  • Students who test negative may be able to return earlier.
  • All students and staff returning to school must pass the provincial COVID-19 School and Child Care screening.


Questions  Answers 
How is lunchtime being managed in the classroom? Will students have seating arrangements?   Protocols used last year will continue into this year.  Students will remain in cohorts indoors and outdoors at lunchtime. 
Can classes be split into smaller groups to reduce exposure during nutrition breaks? Can lunch times be staggered to limit exposure?   Many schools continue to use strategies such as a staggered lunch time to reduce numbers.  
When will full-time remote learning start for elementary students who requested to transition?   The potential transition date will depend on the number of potential students selecting a transition to remote learning. The HWDSB will communicate an update regarding the Elementary Remote Transition the week of January 24 to 28.   
Will grade 8 students have a chance to tour their future secondary schools?  Right now, there are no planned tours of secondary schools for grade 8 students. This may change in the future if public health protocols allow. We encourage grade 8 students and their families to attend the virtual information nights. Dates and other information can be found at https://www.hwdsb.on.ca/secondary/plan-for-high-school/grade-7-8-information-nights-2/  
My child has been in remote learning since the start of the school year. When can they transition to in-person learning?   There will be no additional transition opportunities between remote and in-person learning this school year. Families who are registered in remote learning will not be able to return to in-person classes except in extraordinary circumstances.  
Will children aged 5-11 receive an education session on vaccinations?  Public Health does not currently have education sessions planned for children aged 5-11 .
Will children aged 5-11 be vaccinated at school without parental consent?   Students will require informed consent from their parent or guardian in order to receive the vaccine while at school.  
Will classes move to remote learning as a result of staff shortages?  We are making all efforts to manage absences and keep schools open for in person learning. This includes redeploying staff from other locations, including system staff.

Classes would only shift to remote learning if directed by the Chief Medical Officer of Health or if the school can’t remain open operationally due to lack of staffing.


Secondary Questions 

Questions  Answers 
What will secondary second semester look like? Will students be returning to the four-course model?   The Ministry of Education has permitted school boards to move to a regular timetable for secondary unless otherwise directed by their local public health units. HWDSB will be returning to four courses at the start of Semester Two unless otherwise directed by Hamilton Public Health Services. 
Does the model for semester 2 involve alternating between in-person and remote learning, or will it be all in-person? We are currently planning for an in-person return to the regular four-course semester model for secondary students. There is no plan to alternate between in-person and remote at this time.

Students enrolled in eLearning courses will continue to learn remotely.

Are there plans in place for secondary students who are not doing full-time eLearning in semester 2 to study remotely until community transmission decreases?   There is no short-term virtual learning option for secondary semester 2. Families with concerns about in-person learning should contact their principal to discuss potential options (e.g., temporary excusal). 
What metrics are HPHS using to justify the move from quadmesters to regular four-course semesters?   This decision was made following Ministry of Education guidance and discussed with Hamilton Public Health Services who have not raised concerns. 
There have not been any exams for secondary students thus far. Will they be cancelled for the remainder of the semester to keep courses equal?   HWDSB has Student Success Days instead of Exam Days. Some students may have an exam as a culminating task, in-class, prior to the Student Success Days. 
What courses are available for eLearning and can I register my child?  Students were asked to book an appointment with the guidance counsellors on or before January 19th to explore eLearning courses and make timetable changes. Please contact your guidance office as soon as possible to check for availability of eLearning courses. 



Updated on Friday, January 21, 2022.
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