Many Bluewater students going back to the classroom

The provincial government has announced that students in certain parts of Southern Ontario will return to in-person learning next week.

Due to this provincial decision, we can now confirm that both elementary and secondary students in Bluewater District School Board will return to in-person learning at school on Monday, January 25, 2021.

Student transportation services, as well as before and after school programs will also resume on Monday, January 25, 2021.

For those whose children are already enrolled in the Remote School, there will be no change as these classes will continue as usual.

With our return to in-person learning, all health and safety protocols that were in place prior to the holiday break still apply. However, please note the following, which includes a few important changes as directed by our provincial and local public health officials:

· All students are still required to complete the provincial daily COVID-19 self-screening questionnaire before coming to school. The questionnaire can be found at https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening, or click here for the paper version.

· Grades 1-3 students are now required to wear masks at school and on the bus. This is in addition to the existing requirement for students in Grades 4-12 to wear masks. Masking requirements will also be in place for specified outdoor activities where physical distancing is not possible. Kindergarten students are encouraged, but not required to wear masks.

· To support provincial efforts to prevent further spread of COVID-19, students are asked not to congregate before school starts, and to return directly home after school.

· Targeted voluntary COVID-19 testing is being expanded for students, staff, and their respective households. Schools will be identified by public health, with a focus on those experiencing outbreaks, with high case counts, or in high priority communities.

I realize that there may be some questions related to health and safety as students and staff return to in-person learning while the provincial stay-at-home order remains in place. With this regional approach, and through consultation with public health, it has been determined that our relatively low local COVID-19 case numbers place us in a favourable position for students to physically attend school as many were doing before the holidays. As always, the health and safety of our students and staff remain our top priority. We will continue to follow the guidance of public health and provincial direction.

I would like to take a moment to extend my deepest thanks to all of you for your resilience and patience in supporting your children and our students through remote learning over these past few weeks.

Please continue to reach out to your child(ren)’s school(s) with any questions you have regarding our return to school. I look forward to seeing our students return to in-person learning.