Message from the OCS Leadership Team about school reopening. See also guidelines below videos for important information.
Dear Families of OCS Students, Welcome to the 55th year of teaching and learning at Ottawa Christian School. To those who are new to the OCS community, a special welcome to you. We hope that you and your children experience a welcoming and supportive environment. We have been looking forward to having the students back in their classrooms for a long time now and we are thankful and excited that they will be starting on September 8. It will be an unusual year for all of us and this document outlines steps that we are taking and that all of us will need to take to keep school open and healthy. One thing that will not change is our commitment to working with you to educate our students and equip them for a life of faithful Christian discipleship and service.
As we have drawn up our back to school plan and worked on the details of the plan we have been guided by a couple of key principles. First, we acknowledge that the world is the Lord’s and we are in his capable and loving hands. Fear is not a Christian habit of mind. Nevertheless, we seek to be prudent in the face of a very contagious virus. We also want to be responsible citizens and neighbours. Lastly we are working on the well established understanding that it is better to start off fairly rigid and be willing to ease off on restrictions once we know more or once the virus declines or is defeated. It is important to remember that your diligence within your own social bubble is critical if we are to keep the virus out of the school.
The following list will hopefully give you all the information you need to appreciate the measures that we are taking and to navigate how to do things in this year. Please read this entire information carefully.
Paul Triemstra (on behalf of the staff)
On the first day the teachers will be on the playground in zones where students can go. Feel free to walk your child to the gate of the playground and I will be there to direct your children to places on the playground they can go. We will be ringing the bell in two stages. At the first bell at 8:20 students in grades 8, 6, 4, 2 and kindergarten will go into their lines. The teacher will direct them to this place. At the second bell @ 8:25 the rest of the students will go into line and then be let in when the first round of students have cleared out of the entranceways.
Screening of Students
Daily Please monitor your children’s health on a daily basis. The monitoring form accompanies this document. You will likely be aware if the child’s runny eyes are due to hay fever or another allergy, but if you think your child has cold symptoms they need to stay home. Here is the self assessment tool from the province of Ontario: Self Assessment Tool.
We are recommending that all students wear masks unless they have a medical exception. However, only students in grades 4-8 are required to wear masks, barring a medical exception. Students should come to school with at least two masks that they find comfortable. Students in grades 4-8 will also need some kind of pouch that they can keep them in. Plastic bags are not recommended as they are not breathable. Consider a small cloth pouch that can be clipped onto clothing with a carabineer or other device. A fanny pack might also be a good option. We will have a supply of disposable masks on hand if needed. If students have not had an opportunity to wear masks over the last few months it would be good for them to practice wearing them at home. School staff and visitors are expected to wear masks unless there is a medical exception. Staff members and teachers who are meeting together in the absence of students and are distanced can opt to not wear masks as long as all involved are comfortable with this. Generally masks will not be required for recess and for PE outside.
Please help us to foster in your child a healthy respect for physical distancing. While we will have yard duty beginning at 8:00 in the morning, we ask that where possible you aim to drop your children off at 8:15. When students arrive at school they can move to their line-ups and place their book bags on the distanced markings appropriate for their grade. They may stay there or move to the playground zone set aside for their cohort before school. Different zones will be available to students at recesses. At the end of the school day please attempt to pick your child up as close to 3:15 as possible. Please remind your young children that even though their teachers will miss their awesome hugs, we need to avoid hugging at this time. Markings for physical distancing are in the hallways as well.
Screening, seating and cleaning policies have been prescribed to the bus company by their governing authorities. They will be following those carefully. Complete information on these policies and procedures will be sent to all families with children on the bus.
At recess we will have half the students on the playground at a time. Cohorts will be in large zone where they can play and which will rotate regularly. So, all students will be able to be in all parts of the playground during the course of a school day.
Staggered Entrances and Exits
At the beginning of the day we will have two bells. One will go at 8:20 at which time Kindergarten, grade 2, 4, 6 and 8 will enter the school. Students will go in single file and keep distance from each other. At 8:25 the other half of the students will go in. This will take time and we will need to be
patient. Those at the west end of the school we will be using the fire exit for students to allow quicker movement into the school without cohorts getting mixed up with each other. At the end of the day we will time the dismissals so that students will not overlap in the hallways. The bus students will move to the front of the school and can be in the area in front of the library. They will have supervision there. The bus will then pick them up at the front entrance of the school. All the other students will go to their zones with their homeroom teachers. Parents can come on to the playground to pick up their children. They will need to wear a mask and keep distance from others. The parking lot may be full so parents may need to park on the street in front of the school or at the park. We will start off the school year this way and we may need to adjust as we go along.
While the library will be closed teachers and students will be able to order books from their classrooms. Mrs. MacFie will assemble the books in a container that the teacher can pick up. When the books are returned they will be “quarantined” for 72 hours before they are re-shelved.
The computer lab will also be closed for student and staff use. The computers will be redistributed to the classrooms. A sanitizing procedure will be in place for these. We are also in the midst of purchasing Chrome Books for students to use. They will be sanitized after each use
Music and Art
Music and art will move to the various classrooms. The students will still have their excellent specialty teachers, but the programs will be modified to ensure that shared supplies and spaces will not be used.
Physical education (PE) will be outside for as long as possible. Students will be outside when it gets cool or even cold and in light rain. Students will need to come dressed for the weather. Change rooms will not be used so students will not be changing clothes for PE for the foreseeable future.
Washrooms will be assigned to different grades so that no more than two grades will be assigned to a washroom and there will be a limit of four people in the washroom at any one time. The kindergarten students will only use the washrooms in their classes.
The water fountains cannot be used for drinking directly. Students will need to have water bottles that they fill up at home and then throughout the day as needed.
The janitor will clean and disinfect thoroughly on a daily basis. We will need volunteers to be trained who will disinfect commonly touched surfaces and washrooms on a daily basis. Please let us know if you can commit to doing this on a regular basis. Students will be directed to wash or disinfect their hands frequently. Walking through the school you will notice hand sanitization stations in classes and outside of the classroom doors.
No field trips will occur or be planned for the foreseeable future.
School supplies will not be shared with the entire class. Where students have desks, supplies will be kept in their desks and not be shared with classmates. Backpacks will be put on the backs of chairs so that students do not need to get up to get supplies, snacks or lunches.
Food and Birthday Treats
Unfortunately we will not able to share food at all for the time-being, nor will we be able to hand out birthday cards or small gifts to classmates.
A Sick Child during the School Day
We have a protocol for dealing with sick children and sick staff members during the school day. We will bring them out of their classrooms and isolate them in a comfortable location where we can keep an eye on them. We will call home and request that you pick up your child immediately. If you are working at a job that does not allow you to drop everything and pick up your children you will need to arrange for someone else to pick them up.
Notification of Probable and/or Confirmed Cases within the School Community
We need to notify Ottawa Public Health and the ministry of education every time we have a probable or confirmed case of Covid 19. We have been given definitions of probable and confirmed cases from the provincial government. We will be creating a notice on the website to communicate to the community the status of our school. We will be following the reporting protocols that have been given to us by the province and Ottawa Public Health. They will assist us in reporting to classes and the school community. We will keep logs of staff, volunteers and visitors who are in the school to assist with contact tracing and testing.
Remote Learning Plan
By the time school begins the teachers will have a remote learning plan in the event the school needs to shut down for a period of time. We will be prepared to have a structured learning plan for all children.
Providing Your Own Hand Sanitizers
Parents may provide their children with their own hand sanitizer as long as it is non-scented. As the weather cools, students’ hands may dry out. Feel free to provide hand cream provided that the product is non-scented.