Mark Clairmont |

MUSKOKA — Putting up your hand to go the washroom will be a big deal when some elementary students return to classes starting tomorrow.

Teachers will only allow a few at a time — to go.

That’s just part of the new school year that begins Tuesday, Sept. 8, with a steep learning curve for everyone at home and inside classrooms due to the COVID-19 and growing fears of a second wave of the pandemic this fall that has some students studying at home rather than in class.

And across the Trillium Lakelands District School Board new protocols including lots of social distancing have been issued in a 17-page rules and guidelines document online for parents and kids to study up on.

Here’s a brief summary of what to expect:

While high school students don’t return to in-class teaching till next week on Sept. 15, kids in kindergarten to grade 8 start staggering in this week — alphabetically.

Based on your last name — A to F etc. — students attending in-school will attend one day during the week of Sept. 8 to 11.

They will attend three days the second week Sept. 14-18.

Schools will work to ensure siblings attend school together during a staggered start. There will be no in-school classes scheduled for secondary students this week when they will receive new timetables.

Grade 9 students will attend on Monday, Sept. 14.

All grade 9 to 12 students will attend every day beginning the following day.


Sept. 8 to 11, elementary students in at home remote learning will participate in brief training and orientation activities as scheduled by the teacher.

Teachers will begin to engage students in online learning sessions Sept. 14 to 17.

Full at-home remote learning will begin on Sept. 18.

For secondary students participating in at-home remote learning, there will no classes scheduled Sept. 8 to 11. Students will receive new timetables during this time.

Grade 9 students will attend at-home classes on Monday, Sept. 14.

All at-home remote learning grade 9 to 12 students will attend every day beginning Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Cloth masks are mandatory and should include more than one. Exceptions to the rule are possible for health reasons.


They are mandatory for all students (cloth only, no medical masks) on buses and going into school.

And they must be provided by the student and their family (several per day are recommended to allow for cleaning and losses).

For outdoor classes, masks will be put in named paper bags provided by school board.

And students, teachers, staff must hand wash before going into school and leaving — in the classroom or with hand sanitizer.

Everyone is expected to follow face-covering/ mask requirements and all health and safety protocols.

Failure to follow facecovering/masking requirements or intentionally ignoring health and safety guidelines related to COVID-19 Return to School Protocols may be subject to discipline under the schools code of conduct policy.

Some exceptions are possible for health reasons; ask your principal.


All schools will follow a COVID-19 outbreak protocol still in development, awaiting direction from the Ministry of Education and review from local public health units.


Students will be assigned designated seating to keep them within their cohort bubble.

School buses will be cleaned twice daily, which includes spraying of seats and high touch points between runs.


Parents and guardians can’t enter school, but if they are late they must wait in their vehicle and call the school office for how to meet the student.


Visitor access to schools Parents/guardians will not be permitted to enter school building during the day or after school hours unless there is an emergency.

Parents who need to speak to a member of the school staff or require access to their child’s belongings, must first contact the school office or their child’s teacher by email or telephone.

No leaving school grounds for elementary students.


Custodial staff in each school will clean classroom areas twice daily at a minimum.

This work will occur either before or after school and once during nutrition breaks. Frequent sanitizing of other high touch areas of the school including washrooms, door handles, and bottle refilling stations will take place throughout the day.


Breaks will still place in elementary schools, but no playground equipment use will be allowed.


Cafeterias and lunch rooms will be open, but no hot lunches will be available. So bring your own brown bag or lunch box — and remember to take home all your waste or recyclables.

Handwashing and sanitizing are mandatory first.


Music (vocal and instrumental) will continue, but there is to be no singing or vocal music and no playing of wind/brass instruments in schools.

Music teachers will provide music curriculum options with lower-risk creative performance opportunities.


Wherever possible, physical education will take place outdoors. If an indoor space is necessary, physical distancing must be in place.

Close contact sports (e.g. wrestling, rugby, football), as well as indoor team sports (e.g. basketball) will not be permitted. Individual practices rather than team activities will be encouraged. Equipment-free activities will take place wherever possible. Equipment will be assigned
to individuals. Any shared equipment will be sanitized between use.


In elementary schools, libraries will be closed for students and for circulation. In secondary schools, library circulation will be closed, however the space may be used for students on spares.


It will be a 300-minute learning day, which will include a blend of synchronous and independent learning.

High school students will adopt a block schedule to concentrate on one credit at a time.

Students are expected to be available and in attendance for all synchronous learning activities,

Synchronous learning is 180 minutes per day for Kindergarten students, 225 minutes per day for Grades 1 to 8, and 225 minutes per day for Grades 9 to 12 taking a full course schedule (up to 60 minutes for each class).

Parents may choose to have their child be exempt from the required synchronous minutes by making a request in writing to the teacher and/or school administrator.

Alternative learning formats such as paper packages and regular check-ins from the teacher will be put in place for these students.

(Synchronous learning includes: • whole group instruction • live opportunities to interact and discuss materials • recorded lessons with live follow up (which also may be recorded) • live small group instruction or support • telephone conversations with one or multiple students and/or parents when developmentally appropriate • students working independently and in small groups while engaged in a virtual classroom with the teacher overseeing their learning and available for questions.

Families who are fully remote and do not have access to technology, or do not want to use technology, will be provided with paper packages of learning materials and regular check-ins from an assigned educator.

For the full TLDSB document and more on school’s return (which most families should have received by now) go to:

A 17-page TLDSB online documents spells out most of what students and parents can expect in class and at home when school begins tomorrow, Sept. 8, after six months off.



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