September 10, 2021
Dear Niagara Catholic families:
We have come to the end of the first week of the new school year, and I sincerely hope that it’s been a happy one for both students and parents.
While I have not had time this week to go to many schools this week, I was fortunate to spend Tuesday morning visiting schools, and I know our Superintendents of Education have been in schools this week visiting classrooms and seeing schools come back to life. We are all happy to see so many smiling faces and hearing the sounds of laughter and learning in the halls.
This is what school is all about.
As we wind down the first week, I’d like to thank you all again for entrusting your children into our care. Our schools are safe and clean, and they are joyful places filled with the Holy Spirit, and we want to assure that you that we are doing everything we can to keep your children and all staff healthy.
We appreciate all you are doing, too, including wearing a mask when you are outdoors at your child’s school and you are unable to maintain a safe distance from others, and encouraging your children to keep their masks clean, wash their hands often and to maintain a safe distance from others as much as possible while at school.
While we may still continue to have challenges this year, we are focused on the positives – the children are happy and safe, and are learning in a comfortable, familiar environment – and look forward to a bright year ahead for everyone.
September 3, 2021
Dear Students, Parents and Guardians:
It hardly seems like a moment has passed since the summer began, and here we are, gearing up for a new school year. I hope everyone took the opportunity this summer to enjoy some much-deserved time off with family and friends and to rest, decompress, and have fun.
As we begin the new school year, we do it with more challenges than we had anticipated when we broke for the summer in June. The Delta variant has proven to be a tough opponent to everyone working to fight COVID-19, and the school year might not be quite as normal as we had hoped. We can’t guarantee a smooth course to the end of the year, but I can guarantee you that every single member of our Niagara Catholic staff is committed to creating a safe, clean, and joyful learning environment for your children. We are happy to see so many students return to school and will ensure that students learning remotely will feel connected as a community this year.
As we have all grown to expect in the past 19 months, there will likely be changes throughout the coming year, and we will make sure that parents and students are aware of the changes as quickly as possible to help your family adjust, if necessary. Sports, music and other extracurriculars will return more quickly to secondary school than elementary, where we will take a slow and steady approach to bringing back activities to school. We will do all we can to make sure this year is an enriching experience for all students, within the guidelines put in place by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, and Niagara Region Public Health.
Students will begin the school year with mandatory active self-screening, which is required from September 7-17. Our IT Services team are finalizing a program which will allow families to complete self-screening online and report the results to their child’s school electronically. Those who have issues with access to technology or reliable internet should contact your school’s principal for an alternate option.
Public Health strongly recommends active screening in all schools, and we will continue this for all students and staff again this year. Based on Public Health’s guidance, we will continue to limit the number of visitors to schools as we begin this year. Any essential visitors to our schools will also be required to complete an active screening assessment before entry. It is another layer of protection to ensure that we know who has been in our schools should we have cases of COVID-19.
Public Health guidelines remain much the same for COVID-19 this year as it was last. If your child has any symptoms of COVID-19, they are required to stay at home and follow the guidance of Niagara Region Public Health. Families of elementary students born before 2009 (and 2010, in the latter part of the year) who are too young to be vaccinated should be prepared for a possible temporary transition to virtual learning if a case is discovered in their classroom. Intermediate and secondary students who are fully vaccinated and without symptoms will be permitted to return to school, even if they are exposed to the virus.
At the guidance of the Ministry of Education, we expect to host more COVID-19 vaccination clinics in our secondary schools this year, outside of the school day. We remind parents that the age of informed consent for medical treatment, including vaccinations, in Ontario is 12, meaning parental permission is not required if a child wishes to be vaccinated. Niagara Catholic staff vaccination statistics will be posted on our website for parents to review and will be updated as new information is provided from staff. We will also continue to report active cases in our schools on our website, as a matter of transparency to our community.
We will provide more information about COVID-19 in schools to families throughout the school year and encourage you to check our School Reopening and Safety Guide, accessed through the main page of niagaracatholic.ca, often to learn about changes to the regulations for our schools. We will always make it clear when an update has been added, so you can easily find the information you need.
We are so excited to start bringing our students and staff together again. Another great year of learning is only a few days away. Spend this last weekend together doing things you enjoy with the people you love, and we look forward to welcoming your children back to school on Tuesday.
May the strength of God continue to watch over us and protect us all.
God bless and stay well,
Director of Education