Niagara Catholic Pandemic Transition Information
As we enter a new stage of the global pandemic, Niagara Catholic remains committed to the health, safety, and well-being of all students and staff.
Following the guidelines of the provincial government’s reopening plan, Niagara Catholic provides families with information on what to expect in our schools, hopefully for the remainder of the school year.
The provincial government is lifting the mask/eye protection mandate in Ontario effective Monday, March 21. This includes the requirement for students and staff to wear masks in schools. Niagara Catholic will follow this Ministry of Education guidance, and masks will no longer be required in our schools when we return from the March Break.
As a result, Niagara Catholic is no longer required to implement the Request for Exemption: Face Mask Requirement Administrative Operational Procedure (100.17), and this AOP will be repealed effective that date.
Masks continue to be recommended for those who are vulnerable to serious illness as a result of a COVID-19 infection. We recognize that as a result of this guidance, and of personal preference, there will be parents who will send their children to school with a mask to wear at school, and that staff may also continue to wear masks for the short-term, or for the duration of the year. All students and staff will be supported in whichever personal decision they make, and encourage you to continue to show kindness, compassion, and respect for whatever decision co-workers or students may make in the days and weeks ahead.
The Ministry of Education will continue to supply masks through the end of the year for those who wish to use one. Cloth masks are permitted for those who prefer to use them.
Please note that N95 masks will continue to be required for any staff who are engaging in an aerosol-generating medical procedure.
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and our local Acting Medical Officer of Health continue to support vaccination to prevent severe effects of COVID-19 illness in our community. We will continue to offer vaccination clinics in schools as requested by Niagara Region Public Health and the Ministry of Education.
Effective March 14, employers are no longer required have a mandatory vaccination policy. This extends to school boards. As a result, Niagara Catholic will repeal our COVID-19 Disclosure AOP (100.16), effective March 14. We will no longer disclose vaccination status online and unvaccinated staff will no longer be required to submit to testing three times a week.
We will also no longer require vaccination information regarding frequent visitors to our schools.
The government will lift its requirement for daily, active screening on March 21, in favour of passive screening. Staff and families will no longer receive the daily active screener through email. For those who wish to use a screening tool, you can access the provincial government school and childcare screener here.
Anyone who is sick should stay at home until their symptoms have resolved for 24 hours (48 hours for gastrointestinal symptoms). Schools will continue to have an area for anyone who falls ill while at school to wait while they are picked up by a parent or guardian.
In response to changing self-isolation requirements, please note the following:
- A person returning back to school or child care on day 6 post infection must continue masking until day 11
- If someone is a contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19 (household or non-household), that person must wear a mask for the self-monitoring period of 10 days post exposure
- Please click Niagara Region Public Health's Community Guidance on Self-Isolation page for detailed information
The provincial government has provided updated guidance on how to manage known or suspected cases of COVID-19.
Asymptomatic individuals who are close contacts of a case or a symptomatic individual in the community are no longer required to isolate but must self-monitor for 10 days after their last exposure. During the self-monitoring period, close contacts must wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings and avoid activities where they need to take off their mask (for example, playing a wind instrument in music class or playing high-contact sports).
Asymptomatic household contacts of a case or a symptomatic individual are also not required to isolate if they are 17 or younger and fully vaccinated; 18 and older and have already received their COVID-19 booster; or tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days and have completed their isolation period. Asymptomatic household contacts who are not required to isolate are also required to self-monitor for 10 days following last exposure, as outlined above. Children under 5 who are asymptomatic household contacts are required to isolate for 5 days.
If you have questions about this, please contact Niagara Region Public Health for guidance.
Students and staff returning to school or work following an illness will be provided with a five-pack of COVID-19 testing kits. Parents are asked to please let the school know how you wish to receive the kits, either by picking them up or sending them home with your child.
UPDATED: Schools will continue daily absence reporting to the Ministry of Education through June 30. Principals will also continue to report absences above 30 percent of student/staff population to Niagara Region Public Health until that time. This information will continue to be made available on the government website, accessed here.
Effective March 21, we will be permitted to fully mix cohorts indoors and outdoors in elementary and secondary schools without physical distancing, effectively returning to pre-pandemic activities.
Assemblies, sports, and activities are now permitted at the elementary level, and music at the elementary and secondary level no longer have mask/distancing restrictions in place. Shared spaces such as libraries, technology rooms, music rooms, and cafeterias may be used under normal conditions. Students are no longer required to sit in assigned seats on student transportation, and zones are no longer required for outdoor recesses and lunch periods.
We will continue with enhanced cleaning in all schools and sites for the remainder of the school year.
Water fountains are now permitted to be used. However, Public Health recommends continued use of refillable bottles through either the fountain or hydration station over drinking directly from the fountain.
Niagara Catholic will continue to follow provincial guidance with regards to the use of stand-alone HEPA filter units. UPDATED: This includes ensuring one unit is in each occupied classroom, as well as in school libraries, gymnasiums, and cafeterias, as well as in all occupied learning spaces without mechanical ventilation systems.
NOTE: Federal travel requirements changed on Monday, April 25. Recognizing that many staff and families will travel during the March Break, we remind both our staff and our families of the current federal travel requirements, which require individuals to wear a mask at all times when in public spaces (including schools and child care) upon return from international travel.
The Ministry of Education has instructed school boards accommodate requests to transition to online learning as it is possible without causing disruption to the system. Requests to transition your child into remote learning will be considered on a case-by-case basis and must be made through your school principal.