THE HEALTH, SAFETY, AND WELLBEING OF OUR STUDENTS AND STAFF IS OUR TOP PRIORITY
The Ministry of Education’s COVID 19: Health, safety and operational guidance for schools (2021-2022) is based on advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health and permits schools to open for in-person learning with health and safety measures in place for the 2021-2022 school year. MacLachlan is planning for students to be in class beginning the first day of school on Wednesday, September 8th for daily attendance. As the school implements its reopening plans an important factor in determining all of the policies and procedures in the plan is to maximize health and safety so that we can remain open for the full school year. Current evidence and advice from leading professionals support the concept that children can return to school in a carefully structured manner that protects children’s health and minimizes risks from a public health perspective.
The relationship between MacLachlan College and the local public health unit will be crucial to navigate the complex and evolving COVID-19 environment, including the risks related to variants of concern. Our plans will be re-evaluated regularly, and where required, updated based on public health advice throughout the 2021-2022 school year. Our School Healthcare Coordinator, who is an experienced pediatric emergency and intensive care nurse from the Hospital for Sick Children, will continue to assist us with our infectious disease management.
We are offering full-time, on-campus instruction for students in Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12. If the Ministry or other governing body issues a school closure, students will continue with their full subject course content in an online environment until the school is allowed to reopen.
EduSafe App – DAILY HEALTH CHECK REQUIREMENTS
All students and staff must self-screen every day before attending school. MacLachlan will continue to deploy the EduSafe app for our school community. The app is compatible with all iOS and Android devices. Parents/Guardians will be required to complete this brief daily screening each morning for each of their children attending school before arriving on campus, and ideally prior to 8 a.m. each morning. A report is provided to the school and will be monitored by assigned staff. Students who do not have their daily check completed will not be permitted to enter the school and join their class. All students and staff who are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, as identified in the EduSafe screening tool, must not attend school and should follow the guidance provided, which may include seeking appropriate medical attention as required, and/or getting tested for COVID-19.
Health and safety
To support the reopening of school, MacLachlan College implemented protocols to provide for the health and safety of students, staff and families. Guidance is provided based on the advice of public health and the Ministries of Health and Labour Training and Skills Development.
To maximize safety, MacLachlan College is using a “layered” approach with multiple measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread, including decreasing the number of interactions with others and increasing the safety of interactions. Layering of multiple mitigation measures strengthens the risk mitigation potential overall. Our protocols consider measures related to:
- Modifying behaviours that reduce the spread, including hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, as well as use of personal protective equipment (PPE) where recommended. Hand sanitizers are installed in every classroom and every school entrance, and also in common areas throughout the school. Students are also welcome to bring their own personal hand sanitizer to keep with their belongings at their desk.
- Maintaining healthy environments, including environmental cleaning, grade cohorting, physical distancing, and use of plexiglass shields/guards where necessary.
- Continued use of medical grade Intellipure air purifiers for every classroom and learning space.
- Maintaining healthy operations, including mitigating risks for students at higher risk of infection, protecting staff and at-risk persons or families, screening and management of individuals with suspected COVID-19, cases and outbreaks.
Non-Medical Masks, Cloth Masks and Face Coverings
Students in Grades PK-Gr.12 are required to wear a properly fitted non-medical or cloth mask indoors in school, including in hallways and during classes, as well as on school busses.
Teachers will provide instruction to students on how to put on, remove and store their masks safely.
Students are not required to wear their masks outdoors within their grade cohorts at scheduled recess times but distancing should be maintained between different grade cohorts by maintaining a 2 metre distance as much as possible.
Teachers and school staff have also been provided with required PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) per occupational health and safety requirements.
Mental health and wellbeing
Student mental health and wellbeing is a core element of the re-entry to school plan. It is foundational in ensuring a return to a welcoming environment that supports learning.
Supports for student mental health and wellbeing include the following components:
- Professional learning for administration and educators to support the approach to school re-entry, as well as throughout the school year;
- Our Student Services department and Health Care Coordinator will be available for students, parents and staff;
- A tiered approach for mental health supports that will capture all students and target intensive help to those who have been most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak; and
- Collaboration with child and youth mental health agencies to support stronger connections and make the best use of mental health resources and supports across the integrated system of care.
School Building Controls
- Enhanced cleaning protocols have been implemented including heightened cleaning and disinfecting routines for frequently touched surfaces and shared resources such as doorknobs, light switches, toilet and faucet handles, electronic devices, students’ chairs and desks/tabletops;
- Increased maintenance and replacement of HEPA filters for all HVAC systems
- All classrooms equipped with Intellipure Air Purifiers
- No-touch faucets and water filling stations have been installed;
- Weekly school-wide fogging disinfectant procedures;
- Following public health advice regarding the type of cleaning and disinfectant products to use; and
- Following the manufacturer’s instructions including use of PPE.
- With a focus on regular hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette the use of shared spaces, such as learning commons and music/art rooms, and materials is permitted. Regular cleaning of shared equipment and spaces will be emphasized. Use of lockers and cubby lockers is permitted.
Daily COVID-19 self-assessment for Students, Staff and Families
In addition to full compliance expectations of our daily EduSafe App submissions for staff and students arriving at school, in order to keep our school community healthy, ongoing self-assessment is also expected by all family members. Some parents may begin to return to their workplaces or families may have additional children who attend other schools. We expect that families monitor the health of all household family members. If members of the same family develop possible symptoms of COVID-19 the following procedures should be followed:
- students must remain at home;
- report the absence to the school indicating possible COVID related reasons;
- Seek a COVID-19 test and/or follow directives from Public Health;
- Wait for the results of the COVID-19 test for the ill family member and follow orders by Public Health;
- In the absence of a COVID-19 test for the ill family member, students will be expected to isolate for 14 days even if symptom-free;
- Parents/Guardians can also provide documentation from a primary care provider confirming that the illness is not COVID-19 and the student may return to class.
Testing and contact tracing
Although the vaccination of individuals 12 years old and older is widely available throughout the province, MacLachlan College is prepared for the possibility of a student or staff member having a positive test for COVID-19. We have a protocol based on local public health advice that includes:
- A clear notification protocol to public health in the event of a suspected case and positive test result — public health and/or family will know positive results and communicate them to the school;
- Readiness to provide contact information for other students, siblings or staff who would be considered close contacts – we will be able to quickly provide contact information to public health for grade cohorts of a student or staff member who receives a positive test result. MacLachlan College will pay enhanced attention to collecting contact information for students and have adapted student and staff information systems, so that contact information is readily available; and
- A close relationship with our local public health unit so that the testing centre that contacts would be directed to is easily identifiable.
Public health will provide guidance on the range of contacts who should be advised to seek testing after a positive test result from a student or staff member is received or contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, and will determine any additional steps required, including but not limited to the declaration of an outbreak and closure of cohorts, classes and/or schools. Non-vaccinated students/staff may have to follow different procedures than vaccinated students/staff.
MacLachlan has implemented the following measures in accordance with suggested guidelines and best practices by the Ministry of Education:
- modified our bell schedules during the school day by division to ensure that there is safe staggered movement within the building and to provide minimal contact with students from other divisions in the hallways and on playgrounds;
- employed grade cohorts, which provides for collaborations and greater flexibility in activity/assignment groupings;
- employed classroom configurations to encourage physical distancing within cohorts;
- the Upper School will use a semester timetable to reduce student contacts in each semester;
- maximized the use of all possible entrances and exits, along with staggered pick-up routines to support physical distancing;
- preparedness to transition to ongoing program (full timetable remote delivery) for all students if required during the school year.
To the greatest extent possible, MacLachlan College is assigning students, teachers and educational assistants to grade groupings (cohorts) as they would in a conventional school year. Specialist teachers (i.e. French, Music, Art and PSPE) are permitted to go into classrooms or have students enter common use spaces, to provide the full breadth of programming for our students.
There are several timetable and bell schedules developed for groups of cohorts that will allow staggered classes, recess and lunch breaks, and pick-up times.
Labs, technical education,
MacLachlan College provides a wide range of educational experiences, and many classes and programs are offered in specialized classrooms. MacLachlan College will make use of large space or common access rooms, or conduct outdoor classes, that will allow these programs to continue to occur while respecting distancing and cohorting approaches. In all cases, cleaning protocols will be aligned with the use of specialized classrooms and equipment.
the school environment
Other preparations that MacLachlan College has undertaken include:
- Procedures that support general physical distancing, such as dividing students into different areas of the campus; scheduling recess in grade cohorts and holding physical education or other classes outdoors when weather permits.
- Grade 9, 10, 11 and 12 students will be attending school full time at our Argus Road Campus location close to our main campus to prioritize health and safety requirements for all.
- The school is closed to visitors inside the school. Meetings with parents and other school staff occur over the phone or through video conference. Protocols do allow for registered health professionals, including rehabilitation service providers, to deliver services in-person in school when clinically appropriate, subject to public health guidance.
- To begin the year all school volunteer programs are suspended until further notice.
- Minimize the number of personal belongings each student brings to school. Any items brought to school must be labeled and kept in the child’s designated area.
- Developed cohort guidance for lunch periods, as well as guidance on using shared areas of schools, such as large space rooms and outdoor areas.
- Our optional Lunch Box program will continue. Parents’ Association run Pizza Days and Cupcake Days will not be run to begin the school year but will be reassessed based on regional COVID-19 cases and vaccination rates during the 2021-2022 school year.
before and after school
Before and After school care programs will be offered during the 2021-2022 school year. This multiple cohort program will be run with strict protocols, including masking, attendance tracking, and specific drop-off/pick-up procedures. More details will be provided to families involved in these programs.
with remote delivery
Although a full-time remote learning program is not being offered by MacLachlan College during the 2021-2022 school year, the school is prepared to pivot our on-campus students a full remote learning education if there is a campus closure and will follow regular timetables. Some grade and age level modifications will be established during periods of remote learning, however expectations for students to have direct synchronous contact with their teacher on a regular basis will be established. Synchronous learning can be used as part of whole class instruction, in smaller groups of students, and/or in a one-on-one context.
MacLachlan College will make use of grade and age-appropriate Learning Management Systems (LMS) through the school year and provide training to all staff and students, to ensure their familiarity and fluency with the LMS, and with school policies on appropriate use, from the start of the school year, so these tools can be used during on-campus lessons and in a time of remote learning. The primary focus of instruction during periods of remote learning will be on the achievement of overall expectations across subjects and grades.
To the greatest extent possible, assessment, evaluation and reporting activities during periods of remote learning will proceed as usual, with a focus on the achievement of overall expectations and the primary purpose of assessment and evaluation being to improve student learning. Where assessment approaches have relied on exams, culminating activities, such as performance tasks, demonstrations, projects, and essays can be used instead to determine students’ grades or marks.
Remote learning can also be employed for students who have to self-isolate for an extended period of time due to COVID-19 protocols during the 2021-2022 school year. However, this system will not be used for students who are away from school for other reasons or opted not to attend in-person lessons for personal reasons.
MacLachlan College will continue doing everything we can to support students’ learning, growth and development.
To that end, we will review what students have learned from their experience during the school closure period and to ensure students are well supported for their ongoing learning in the next year or course. We will achieve this by providing content review for students integrated throughout the school year at key instructional times to ensure students have fundamental building blocks before each new unit.
To the greatest extent possible, assessment, evaluation and reporting activities will proceed as usual, with a focus on the achievement of overall expectations and the primary purpose of assessment and evaluation being to improve student learning. Where assessment approaches need to be modified to suit a particular type of learning environment, the teachers will design tasks appropriate to the age and grade level of the students and the use of available technology and resources.
Report cards will continue to be provided for all students throughout the school year.
MacLachlan College will ensure that course options for Grade 12 students will allow them to earn compulsory credits required for the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), as well as providing access to types of elective courses that support all postsecondary pathway destinations. To that end, the Ministry of Education has confirmed the following:
The literacy graduation requirement is waived for students graduating in the 2021-2022 school year. The literacy graduation requirement will be restored for students graduating in the 2022-2023 school year. Students in grades 10 and 11 and non-graduating grade 12 students, are required to work towards the literacy graduation requirement, through participation in the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT). Two opportunities to take this test are planned for the 2021-2022 school year.
The community involvement graduation requirement has been reduced from 40 hours to a minimum of 20 hours of community involvement activities for students graduating in the 2021-2022 school year. Temporary changes to reduce barriers students may face to earn their community involvement hours will continue for the 2021-2022 school year. (These temporary changes can be found in MacLachlan’s Community Involvement document on MPAC). The community involvement graduation requirement of 40 hours will be restored in 2022-2023.
COVID-19 has resulted in the cancellation or delay of milestone events to recognize student achievement, such as proms and graduation ceremonies, and impacted the kinds of sports and extracurricular activities that can safely be offered. Recognizing that these events and activities are an integral part of the school experience for many students, MacLachlan College will resume music, sports and extracurricular activities that can safely continue based on input from our member organizations (Private School Athletic Association – PSAA) and local medical officers of health.
In physical education courses, the use of gymnasiums, change rooms, indoor physical equipment and shared outdoor equipment is permitted with distancing. High-contact activities are only permitted outdoors and masking is not required. Low contact activities are permitted indoors. Masking may be required if minimum distances of two-metres cannot be maintained.
Field trips may be permitted if the field trip provider follows relevant provincial requirements under the Reopening Ontario Act and follows cohorting, daily attendance tracking and other operational procedures.
Certain clubs, activities, sport teams, and extra-curriculars are permitted and multiple cohorts may interact in these activities outdoors with physical distancing and/or indoors with masking and appropriate physical distancing. Inter-school activities will be determined in consultation with public health and our member organizations.
Music programs are permitted, with singing and use of wind instruments, following specific protocols and appropriate physical distancing.
School assemblies and other student/school gatherings will remain virtual to start the school year. However, these activities are permitted in the provincial guidelines if they follow relevant provincial requirements under the Reopening Ontario Act. This can include multiple cohorts in alignment with provincial capacity limits and includes allowances for in-school student to student peer support programs and reading buddies. MacLachlan College will reassess how we conduct these activities based on regional COVID-19 cases and vaccination rates during the 2021-2022 school year.
Online capacity and technology readiness
To meet the needs of students during this time, MacLachlan College is prepared to fluidly transition between online and on-campus modes of learning.
To increase our preparedness for remote learning, we have:
- Provided additional technology and professional development for our staff;
- Ensured platforms are accessible for persons with disabilities;
- Standardized the choice a grade and age-appropriate Learning Management Systems (LMS) and providing training to all students and educators, to ensure their familiarity and fluency with the LMS, and with school policies on appropriate use, including issues related to cyber security and privacy;
- Ensured teachers in Upper and Lower Schools are prepared with subject/course specific content, lessons, activities and assignments in the LMS should there be a need to transition at any time from on-campus instruction to remote learning; and
- Ensured that teachers and other educators are prepared to offer age and grade appropriate synchronous learning opportunities to students as a consistent and regular part of their remote learning plan.
Communications to parents
The success of MacLachlan College’s reopening plan depends in part on parents being informed about new protocols and confident that the approach will keep their children safe. To that end, we clearly communicate expectations and provide guidelines to parents and students well before in-class instruction resumes, and ongoing throughout the year. Communication strategies include:
- Prioritizing digital communications, such as fact sheets explaining new protocols and links to helpful information, as well as detailed instructions regarding screening and pickup/drop-off procedures and protocols if a child or staff person becomes ill;
- Considering alternative delivery models for activities such as parent-teacher conferences and school assemblies;
- Providing clear guidelines and procedures for drop-off and pickup to support physical distancing; and
- Providing information for students related to school hours, physical distancing, hand hygiene, remote learning, and resources to support learning and wellbeing at home.
MacLachlan College will be offering a reduced bus transportation program during the 2021-2022 school year. Families interested in participating in this program should contact the school office.
The seat directly behind the school bus driver should remain empty to maintain physical distancing between the driver and the students. Students will be required to wear a non-medical mask at all times on the school bus. Students will be seated in a manner that maximizes physical distancing and given assigned seats with a record of the seating plan kept to assist with contact tracing in the case of a student or driver contracting COVID-19. Students who live in the same household or are in the same grade cohort should be seated together where possible. School buses will follow enhanced cleaning protocols, including the disinfecting of high-touch surfaces.
COVID-19 VACCINATION POLICY
At MacLachlan College we are committed to providing and maintaining a safe school environment for all. Consistent with this commitment, the School has established this COVID-19 Vaccination Policy. The Policy strongly encourages all staff and students at the School that are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, to be vaccinated as soon as it becomes available to them. MacLachlan College staff have received a more comprehensive and detailed policy. The province is considering mandatory vaccinations in several sectors, including education, which may override this policy. If these measures are established by the province, MacLachlan College will follow Ministry and Public Health directions.
The School has prepared this Policy considering reliable scientific evidence, government guidance and protocols and relevant human rights legislation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an evolving public health issue in Canada. The School is monitoring guidance from all applicable public health authorities and reserves the right to revise this Policy as determined to be necessary or appropriate. It is recommended that staff, students and parents/guardians consult with their healthcare provider regarding whether to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination.
The objective underlying this Policy is to provide a healthy and safe school environment for students and staff and safeguard the broader communities in which they live.
With regard to student vaccination, the province has currently approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals born anytime on or before December 31, 2009.
Safe and reliable vaccines are an important tool to help stop the spread of COVID-19, build immunity in Ontario and protect our communities. As a school, we have a heightened responsibility to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect our students, staff, and their families.
As many situations at the School involve close contact with other students and staff members, the School strongly recommends that all staff and students be vaccinated as soon as they become eligible.
All staff and eligible students of the MAC community are strongly encouraged to be fully vaccinated prior to commencing in-person learning in September 2021. “Fully vaccinated” includes having received both doses of the vaccine.
If a staff member or eligible student of the MAC community is not currently vaccinated, they are strongly encouraged to receive their first dose as soon as possible and become fully vaccinated as soon as it is available to them. Non-eligible students should receive the vaccine as soon as it is available to them.
PROOF OF VACCINATION
Staff and parents/guardians of eligible students of the MAC community that have been vaccinated, are asked to provide proof of vaccination to the School’s Nurse and Health Coordinator, Tawnya Clarkson by September 13, as part of the school forms checklist. Proof can be in the form of a copy of the proof of vaccination given at the time of receiving vaccination, or a letter from a medical practitioner, confirming the individual has been vaccinated.
MacLachlan Staff COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Screening-Asymptomatic
The Ministry of Education requires all private schools to implement a Staff COVID-19 immunization disclosure policy as an additional tool to advance safety and support local public health units in working with private schools to follow COVID-19 Guidance: School Case, Contact, and Outbreak Management.
The policy will require that MacLachlan College staff undertake one of the following:
- Provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19; or
- Provide a formal/official documented medical reason for not being vaccinated against COVID-19; or
- Participate in an educational program approved by the Ministry of Education.
This approach will also apply to student placements and other professionals who deliver services in the school.
Individuals who are not immunized, including those with medical reasons, will be required to complete regular COVID-19 testing as directed in provincial guidance. This program will be supervised by the School Nurse and Health Coordinator.