Friday, Dec. 3, 2021
Dear Parents and Guardians,
This monthly Letter to Families is intended to keep you apprised of news that affects all students and families of Near North District School Board (NNDSB). The Letter to Families is distributed on the first Friday of the month.
Child vaccine clinics: The North Bay Parry Sound Health Unit is hosting COVID-19 vaccination clinics for 5- to 11-year-old children in the coming weeks. You can find out more information about clinic dates and times here.
Some of these clinics are being held at area schools. The school clinics are not during school hours and the expectation is that children will attend with an adult who will consent on their behalf. According to our local health unit, there is no age of consent for vaccinations, but nurses determine if a child can make that decision and understand the consequences prior to vaccination. For more information about Child Vaccination Clinics please call the health unit at 1-844-478-1400.
Travel at December Break: With the holiday season approaching, it is anticipated that many staff, students and families will choose to make travel plans for the December break. Ahead of the break, we would like to share some information about directives related to international travel and quarantine requirements.
Individuals must follow federal testing and quarantine requirements upon return from any international travel. This includes not attending school or childcare for the 14 days following a return from international travel for individuals advised to quarantine or not attend school/childcare upon their return.
While unvaccinated children under the age of 12 who travelled internationally with a fully vaccinated companion are exempt from federal quarantine, they are not permitted to attend school or childcare for 14 days following their return. Generally, individuals who are fully vaccinated are exempt from federal quarantine and may continue to attend school or childcare. Individuals with all other federal quarantine exemptions (e.g., travelling for cross-border custody arrangements; travelling for medical treatment) may also continue to attend school or childcare. For more detailed information, please contact our local health unit.
Rapid Antigen Testing during December Break: On Nov. 18, 2021, the Minister of Education announced a program for rapid antigen testing for all Ontario students during the December break. Before the break, every student in Ontario will be sent home with a rapid antigen screening kit that contains five tests. These kits will support all students to complete voluntary screening at home prior to their return to the classroom in January.
If a student tests positive using the rapid antigen screening, they must follow local health unit guidance which includes isolating and getting a confirmatory test at a local testing site. More information about this program will be shared once it is received from the Ministry of Education.
Winter Timetabling for Secondary Schools: For the winter semester starting in February 2022, the Ministry of Education has announced that all secondary schools may resume a regular timetabling model of four courses per day, unless not supported by the local Medical Officer of Health.
We are currently working with our local health unit to finalize how timetabling will look in our NNDSB secondary schools and will share further information once it is available to us.
Time-limited Health and Safety Measures in Schools: To mitigate risks associated with the colder weather and gatherings/travel over the winter holidays and to limit the number of contacts for unvaccinated populations especially in elementary schools, the Ministry of Education is implementing enhanced health and safety measures for schools. These measures will remain in place until the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health recommends they be lifted, and include:
- virtual-only parent teacher conferences/interviews in elementary and secondary schools;
- starting in January, virtual-only assemblies in elementary schools.
- restricting lunches/breaks to classroom cohort when indoors, where distancing between cohorts cannot be maintained in elementary schools.
In addition, all elementary and secondary schools will be required to implement daily onsite confirmation of screening prior to/upon arrival at school for at least two weeks following winter break. Please ensure your child completes their COVID-19 school screening before attending school each day. Starting on Jan. 5, teachers will confirm completion of this screening each morning during daily attendance. The screening tool can be found here.
More COVID-19 information may be found in this memo from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Thank you to all parents, guardians, community members, staff and students who took the time between Nov. 15 – Dec. 3, 2021 to complete the School Climate Survey. This survey is important because a safe, inclusive, and accepting school environment is essential for student success and well-being.
The data collected from the School Climate Survey is used to inform the development of Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plans and to build strategies into School Improvement Plans to improve school climate. We appreciate your participation!
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P) provided an informative parent session on Nov. 17, 2021, that was well attended by parents/guardians from throughout our district. Feedback from the session was very positive; parents/guardians were highly encouraged by the number of resources C3P provided. One area of focus was how to have positive conversations with kids so that they feel supported and safe while online. More information can be found on a variety of C3P’s platforms, including:
Protectchildren.ca – the Canadian Centre for Child Protection’s main website with resources for families to help keep kids safe;
Protectkidsonline.ca – a one-stop shop for all things about internet safety;
DontGetSextorted.ca – a website with information about sextortion – including a video, lesson plan, tips to stay safe, and information about reporting;
NeedNelpNow.ca – a website designed to help teens stop the spread of sexual pictures or videos and provides support such as information about how to involve a safe adult, helping a friend, and the laws in Canada/how to report;
Cybertip.ca – Canada’s tip line to report the online sexual exploitation of children;
Cybertip.ca Alerts – notifications sent out to inform the public of concerning technology trends and new resources designed to increase children’s personal safety.
MLI HOMESTAY, one of NNDSB’s partners, is seeking families to host international students coming to North Bay in late January 2022.
Students are coming for long- and short-term studies. They will live as a member of the family, and compensation is provided to assist with expenses.
Director of Education Craig Myles sends his best wishes to all students, staff and families for a most joyous holiday break.
COVID-19 has affected all over us over the past two years and as immunization has reduced the morbidity of the virus, we are seeing the return of some pre-pandemic activities at schools and in the community.
The Director is grateful for the board’s COVID-19 team for its leadership, and all staff and families for their diligence in adhering to the COVID-19 protocols that have kept NNDSB schools free from outbreak. We must balance the importance of friends and family, with awareness of the risks of gathering over the holidays.
Season’s greetings to all NNDSB staff and families.
NNDSB follows the direction of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health and the public health unit when devising COVID-19 plans.
Near North District School Board