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Back to School Update - Keeping You Informed: August 28, 2020

posted Aug 28, 2020, 5:05 PM by Kathryn McCallum   [ updated Aug 29, 2020, 7:44 AM ]
St. Cecilia - SCE.jpg

August 28, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians:

Let me begin by thanking you for being so patient with us.  I do know that the decision about return-to-school, whether by distance learning (Virtual Program) or in-person learning, has been a very difficult one. We have had a large amount, over 40%, of our St Cecilia families select distance learning (VP).  The final deadline has passed and no further changes will be accepted.  What does that mean for the school?  Currently, we are working to collapse classes and reassign teachers and students.  Although students and parents of both in-school and virtual classes may see class schedule information before the school start date, please understand that this information is not accurate and will likely change prior to the start of school.  This unfortunately cannot be avoided due to the many changes accompanying the start of this school year. We ask that parents not contact the school with schedule questions or requests for changes at this time. If your child is a virtual student, please note that French will not be scheduled for up to the first three weeks of school.  

As we reorganize classrooms, we will be making sure, to the best of our ability, that the childrens’ seats are one meter apart.  We will not be using our pod areas for any type of collaborative work.  We are also getting the school ready with signage that will direct students in the hallways, remind them to keep their distance and give them spots they can stand on. We want to make sure our school is as safe as possible.  

Understanding that this year will look different, we wanted to ensure everyone received the most up-to-date information from the Ottawa Catholic School Board. Please reference our Return to School Plan, which includes detailed information for both in-class and virtual learning.

First day of school procedures:

  • Wear your special grade colour! Here is a link to let you know what colour your grade has been assigned.  To make it easier to find your teacher and your classmates, please try to wear this colour on your first day. 

  • There will be no yellow busses running until September 14, therefore parents will need to bring their children to school.  OSTA needs to coordinate the logistics for over 1300 vehicles and close to 5000 different combinations of daily routes. Student and driver safety remains everyone’s number one priority. For more information, visit return to school transportation information (OSTA website).

  • Parents will not be allowed in the yard or in the school.

  • If you are driving your child to school please use the back gate and back Minto parking lot.  This will allow for the safest flow for children and cars (see below for more information)  

We have a few important reminders for our parents:

  • The children will be asked to hang their backpacks on their chairs - we will not be using the cubby or hook areas.   

  • Your child will only need one pair of shoes for the start of the year (do not send indoor shoes at this time).  

  • There will be sanitizer in the classrooms that do not have sinks, and students will be asked and expected to wash their hands or use the sanitizer.  Should you choose to send sanitizer to school with your child, please ensure it is UNSCENTED - for example not smelling like flowers or cinnamon.  We have many sensitivities in the school and we are a scent free school.

  • Students should have their own school supplies, and the sharing of school supplies will not be permitted. 

  • If a device such as a Chromebook is scheduled for alternative use, it will  be wiped down with a sanitizer wipe before changing users. Disinfecting wipes and/or an isopropyl alcohol solution will work on electronic devices. There is little evidence to suggest that the virus is transmitted from paper-based products. Waiting 24 - 72 hours as a precaution is still advised.

Here is a list of suggested items for your child:

  • A lunch and two snacks, a refillable water bottle.  Lunches will be kept at your child's desk and we will be following the guidelines set out by the board with regards to eating breaks.

  • A hat and sunscreen (applied at home before arriving at school) is recommended for the first several weeks of school.

  • Remember to label ALL of your child’s belongings.  

Safety during drop off and pick up:

  • We would like parents to use the back Minto parking lot for drop off and then walk your student to one of the gates.  We have an agreement with Minto for parking and this will alleviate congestion at the kiss-and-ride lane and in the school parking lot.  

  • If your child is late and you need to sign them in, we will have a sign in table in the front foyer of the school.  We would ask that you select a pen from the clean group, sign your child in, then put the pen in the used group for us to sanitize. Your child will then enter the door into the main office, collect a clean playing card to show they have checked in and head off to class.  At this time, parents will not be allowed in the building past the front foyer.  

  • If you have to pick your child up during the school day for an appointment, please write a note in their agenda for the teacher.  Telephone the office once you arrive and the office administrators will call down to class to tell your child it is time to come to the office.  Students will not be permitted to wait in the office in the event you are late arriving for pick up.

  • Students in grades 4-12 are mandated by the Province to wear masks while in school. This has not changed. As for students in Kindergarten to grade 3, the OCSB strongly recommends that all students wear masks both on the bus and in school. Please see the latest update from Ottawa Public Health related to questions about face masks.

On August 13th the Minister of Education indicated that Boards now had permission to begin the school year using a staggered start if that process allows more time to further enhance a safer return for students.  Our staggered approach will be based on grade levels as follows:

  • Kindergarten: New to Kindergarten Orientation visit either Thursday, September 3rd, or Friday September 4th - our new parents will be contacted.

  • Kindergarten (All): Tuesday, September 8th

  • Grades 1-3: Tuesday, September 8th

  • Grades 4-6: Wednesday, September 9th

We will be called on to seek innovative solutions to challenges we never imagined a year ago. This is a time to “Be Community” in words and actions. We need your continued patience and support as we develop our new school policies and practices to ensure the safety and success for all of our students and staff.


We know you may still have unanswered questions, but rest assured, we have staff working around the clock to get you answers. The OCSB website is continually being updated to include the most recent information, including: our Back to School Frequently Asked Questions and our Revised Back to School Plan


We look forward to this school year beginning and to working with our family and community again.  


Jody Prevost