*New* - April 3, 2020
The Regional Municipality of Niagara, in cooperation with the 12 local municipalities, has issued a State of Emergency for Niagara.
March 24, 2020
To continue to stop the spread of COVID-19, Niagara Catholic has closed all school playgrounds, effective immediately. We ask all members of our school communities and our broader communities to stay out of schoolyards and playgrounds until they are reopened.
March 19, 2020 - 3 p.m.
Niagara Catholic is sharing information from all of our community partners during the COVID-19 outbreak.
March 19, 2020 - 1 p.m.
Niagara Region Public Health continues to share information about the transmission of the coronavirus and the disease the virus causes, COVID-19 on its website. Please visit the dedicated COVID-19 page to find out about the number of cases in Niagara, outbreaks and other useful information.
As well, Niagara Regional Police warn members of the community that while times of adversity often bring out the best in people as they rise to the challenge, others see it as an opportunity to take advantage of people.
Police have issued a warning about a phishing scam currently on social media which looks like a text from the Red Cross. However, on closer examination, there are a number of "tells" that it's not legitimate, including poor grammar, punctuation and an unusual URL. Police remind citizens to be vigilant about these scams by checking with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, and Niagara Catholic's IT department also offers advice through the infographic below.
March 17, 2020 - 10 p.m.
This evening, the provincial government announced it will cancel any remaining EQAO standardized assessments for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the move was being made in light of the “immense pressures” students are facing in their academic careers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Over the past days, my Ministry has consulted with parents, students, educators, and administrators, on the future of standardized testing for elementary and secondary students. Following our consultation, and as part of our plan to protect students and staff, all remaining standardized tests for the 2019-2020 school year have been cancelled,” Lecce said in a statement.
Lecce said the cancellation of the EQAO tests will not impede student graduation.
“We will continue to follow the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health to ensure the safety of all students and staff,” he said.
In short - No OSSLT (which was to take place March 31), no Grade 3 or 6 assessments in spring, and no Grade 9 mathematics assessments (including the Semester 1 make-up date, due to the provincal labour situation) for the 2019-2020 school year.
March 17, 2020
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has declared a State of Emergency in Ontario. That means the following:
- All public events of more than 50 people, which includes parades, events and services in places of worship, are banned until March 31. Please note that the Diocese of St. Catharines has already announced all Sunday Masses are cancelled until April 18, which includes during Holy Week and Easter weekend. Bishop Bergie has relieved all Catholics in Niagara of Sunday obligations. We are a people of faith. For those who wish to continue to participate in Masses, and for those who feel overwhelmed by the messaging about COVID-19 and seek comfort in our faith, Salt and Light TV has a daily Mass available online.
- All licensed childcare centres, indoor recreation programs, public libraries, private schools, cinemas, concert venues, and all bars/restaurants are closed, except to provide takeout or delivery of food.
- Essential services, such as banks, grocery stores and gas stations will remain open at this time.
- This is a very fluid situation, and things are changing rapidly. At this time, the April date for schools to re-open remains in effect. We will notify families on our Board website, social media and through School Messenger if anything changes.
The Ontario Catholic Graduate Expectations call for us to be responsible and caring citizens. As such, in these particularly difficult times, we are all encouraged to continue to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 by self-isolating after travelling outside the country in the past 14 days, and to practice social distancing by staying at home as much as is possible or practical, leaving only for essential items and limiting contact with others while outside the house. Isolation can be very difficult for those who struggle with mental health, for our loved ones living in retirement or long-term care facilities closed to all visitors, or for elderly neighbours who cannot get out and do not have family come by. Technology makes it possible for all of us to check in with each other, and even see each other, for those who use FaceTime, Skype or other video messaging, so please help those who are truly confined get through this without feeling cut off from everything. We are all in this together.
March 13, 2020
Yesterday afternoon, Premier Doug Ford announced that all schools in Ontario will be closed for the two weeks after the March Break. What that means is that there will be no classes for the week of the March Break and the two weeks following. As of now, classes are scheduled to resume on Monday, April 6.
The health and safety of the students, staff, visitors to our school and their families are of utmost importance to the Niagara Catholic District School Board. It’s important for our families to know the steps that we have been taking, and will continue to take, to ensure our schools are safe and clean environments. These steps include:
- Providing schools with posters from Niagara Region Public Health, promoting cough and sneeze etiquette (coughing or sneezing into an elbow), the importance of frequent, thorough handwashing or the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available, and reinforcing those messages regularly throughout the day;
- Reminding students about the risks of sharing items like food and water bottles;
- Reminding students and staff to avoid touching their face, and to stay at home when ill;
- Ensuring all schools and sites have a full and ongoing supply of hand soap, hand sanitizer and paper products;
- Providing enhanced cleaning to all schools and sites, with particular focus on touchpoints in all locations;
- Cancelling March Break trips to affected areas; and
- Distributing up-to-date, factual information from Niagara Region Public Health to all schools and families.
Niagara Catholic is currently evaluating a number of planned events, as well as various programs and services for students, and will make decisions about whether to suspend, postpone or cancel them as necessary.
Schools are Closed – What does that Mean?
- All elementary, secondary, continuing education and alternative learning schools and sites will be closed to students.
- Parents will not be required to report absences.
- The Catholic Education Centre, Maintenance Centre and St. Thomas Centre will be closed, with staff performing critical services as determined by their supervisor.
- Niagara Student Transportation Services (NSTS) bus transportation has been cancelled.
- All child care services operated on school sites, which include infant/toddler/pre-school and school-aged child care and camps will be cancelled.
- All Board-operated EarlyON Child and Family Centres will be closed.
- All Community Use of Schools Permits will be cancelled, as of 6 p.m. March 13.
- Al OFSAA events, athletic, co-instructional, cooperative education and dual-credit placements at Brock University and Niagara College are cancelled. Students are not to report to work sites or placements.
- OSSLT will not be conducted on March 31. Further information will be provided.
- The April 1 SEAC Meeting, Catholic School Council Meeting and school events, including student-parent-teacher conferences will be rescheduled with advanced notification
- Confirmations scheduled during this time will be rescheduled.
- Journey Retreats will be modified to a one-day retreat.
- The end date for the Careers and Civics courses will be adjusted.
Planning to Travel? What to do When You Return.
If you do plan to travel during the March Break, please follow the guidelines for travel to countries on the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Affected Areas List, when you return to Canada. Monitor including monitoring health for any respiratory symptoms, new cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing within 14 days of returning from an affected country, and if you experience any of the symptoms of COVID-19, isolate yourself within your home as soon as you can, call TeleHealth Ontario (1.866.797.0000), Niagara Region Public Health (905.688.8248 ext. 7330) or your doctor. Please ensure you call ahead so medical staff can be prepared for a possible COVID-19 case in their office, walk-in clinic, urgent care or emergency room.
We also encourage families always be vigilant about the news they read online. Ensure that you are getting information from a reputable source (a government agency such as Niagara Region Public Health, the Ontario Ministry of Health, Health Canada or the World Health Organization, this website or mainstream media) and double check what you find, especially if it seems unrealistic. Many adults and children can find the constant talk about COVID-19 very unsettling. Youth and adults may wish to take a break from social media to avoid the daily messages about the illness. Parents and guardians should also reassure children that, while the illness can be very serious to those who get it, there are many very dedicated people working very hard to keep everyone safe and that the risk to get it remains relatively low. Families of children and youth with severe anxiety about COVID-19 should call their family doctor. Pathstone Mental Health will be closed until April 6, but support will be available for existing clients. Telephone support is also available at 1.800.263.4944. Learn more about Pathstone Mental Health's COVID-19 plan here.
We’re All in This Together
It is important to note that COVID-19, like any other virus, puts the very young, very old or those with compromised immune systems at greatest risk, it does not discriminate by race, gender or orientation. We remind all families that people can be affected not only by travel, but by doing day-to-day tasks in their communities, if they come into contact with an affected individual. We ask you to join us in praying for all those affected by COVID-19, and for all those tasked with making decisions to help stop the spread of this disease.
Please click the links below for additional information:
March 12, 2020
Earlier today, the provincial government announced all publicly funded schools in Ontario will be closed from March 14 through April 5, 2020, in response to the continued spread of COVID-19 in Ontario. As a result, all Niagara Catholic schools will be closed from March 14 to April 5.
We continue to pray for all those affected by COVID-19, and for all those tasked with making decisions to help stop the spread of this disease. We expect to receive more information from the Province tomorrow, and will provide parents and guardians with more detail as information becomes available. Parents will also receive a letter from the Director and Chair tomorrow via School Messenger.
Please continue to check our Board website and social media for current and accurate information about COVID-19.
Niagara Catholic is committed to ensuring that parents receive accurate, timely information from the Board. As part of our continued priority to protect the health of safety of all students and staff, we are sharing information with parents about the Wuhan novel coronavirus, now known as COVID-19. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
Niagara Catholic has been reassured by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, Director of Communicable Disease Control Dr. Barbara Yaffe, and Deputy Minister of Education Nancy Naylor that Health Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Health are well-positioned to deal with this illness. Many of the safeguards put in place 17 years ago during SARS are now well-established protocols to stop the spread of disease.
For your information, please find below information from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Niagara Region Public Health to address any concerns you may have.
It is important to reinforce the importance of proper cough and sneeze etiquette and frequent and thorough hand washing, and for people to stay home from school and work when they are ill.