Confirming Attendance At School - September 2020

Confirming Attendance At School - September 2020
Posted on 08/10/2020
Confirming Attendance At School - September 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians & Students,

We are looking forward to welcoming students and staff safely back to school beginning on September 3rd.

Families must decide whether students will attend school In Person or will attend school via Remote Learning.

Attending School In Person
The Ministry of Education has determined that in person attendance at school will be as follows:

  • Elementary students will attend school five days per week, with enhanced health and safety protocols in place. Students will remain in one classroom with the same group of students all day, including lunch and recess.
  • Secondary students (grades 9-12) will have an adapted schedule using a quadmester model (4 semesters instead of 2).
    • Secondary students will take 2 courses at a time with approximately 15 students per course.
    • Courses will be divided into Cohorts A and B. Students in Cohort A will attend school 2 days one week and 3 days the next week.
    • Students in Cohort B will do the opposite.
    • All students will have in person attendance for 5 days in a 10 day period.
    • The school day will have 2 periods per day; dismissal time will be earlier than usual.

Remote Learning
Students who participate in Remote Learning will be assigned to a class, and will receive instruction at home using technology. This will be a combination of live online instruction (synchronous) and posted instruction/learning activities and materials (asynchronous). Remote learning will cover required curriculum expectations. Student learning will involve a similar amount of time to what students would usually spend in the classroom learning and doing independent work. The expectation of students engaging in remote learning will be that they are online and present for scheduled instructional times.


Families must decide if their child(ren) will attend school In Person or by Remote Learning. This is necessary to plan for September. All parents must complete the Confirmation of Attendance form using the link below by August 14, 2020. 

We recognize the challenges of making this decision. Please take a few minutes to watch our Return to School video in English or Arabic and read the Frequently Asked Questions below. We also encourage you to visit our website to learn more about our comprehensive Return to School Plan. This week, we will provide additional information to support your decision making. Watch for updates from OCDSB and/or your child’s school.

To help you with this important decision, we have developed a series of FAQs (listed below) related to remote learning. 

What safety precautions will be in place for In Person learning?
A number of safety measures will be in place to support student safety including, but not limited to self-screening before school, cohorting of students, restricted access to school buildings, hand hygiene, physical distancing, respiratory etiquette, designated desk/workspaces, mandatory masks for students in grades 4-12, mandatory masks and face shields for all school staff, reduced number of student/teacher contacts, optimizing outdoor learning, and use of virtual assemblies, virtual field trips and where possible, virtual clubs or activities.

How many students will be in my child’s classroom?
In elementary school (Kindergarten to Grade 8) students will be with their class in one classroom all day. The majority of OCDSB elementary classes are below 30 students. Class sizes are capped as follows:

  • Kindergarten: OCDSB average class size is 25; the maximum class size is 29 students per class, wherever possible the class may be divided into 2 groups;
  • Grades 1, 2, 3: OCDSB average class size is 19; 90% of classes have 20 or fewer students; 10% of classes have up to 23 students;
  • Grades 4, 5, 6: OCDSB average class size is 24.5; there is no maximum class size, but most are below 30;
  • Grades 7, 8: OCDSB average class size is 24.5; there is no maximum class size, but most are below 30;

In secondary schools, classes will be divided into two cohorts. Each cohort will have approximately 15 students. Students will take 2 courses at a time, which means that every student will belong to 2 cohorts of 15 (i.e. a cohort of 15 for math class and a cohort of 15 for science class).

COVID-19 Monitoring
Staff and students are asked to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and stay home if they are feeling unwell. Anyone who tests positive may not return to school until they are cleared according to public health guidance. Schools must ensure records of classes, including seating charts, bus cohorts, and daily records of any approved visitors to the school, including occasional teachers, itinerant staff and custodians are maintained and readily available to be provided to public health authorities for contact tracing purposes.

What if my child attends school In Person and someone tests positive for Covid-19?
Provincial guidance is being provided on case management and contact tracing, as well as outbreak protocols. In the situation where there is a positive case in a school, we will be working with Ottawa Public Health. They will investigate the specific situation, identifying close contacts. Ottawa Public Health could then direct some or all students in a class or in a school to stay at home. In this situation, we would transition to remote learning for that group of students until they can return to school. 

Will Remote Learning be like a regular school day?
Remote learning will not be the same as in-person learning, but it will be scheduled in a predictable manner and involve daily learning. Using technology, students will learn from home through a combination of live online instruction (synchronous) and posted instruction/learning activities and materials (asynchronous).

  • Remote Learning will involve a similar amount of time to what students would usually spend in the classroom learning and doing independent work.
  • Student assessment and evaluation will be ongoing and student attendance/participation will be tracked.
  • The expectation of students engaging in remote learning will be that they are online and present.

Will my child be able to participate in learning with students and teachers from their home school if they do Remote Learning?
Based on the information currently available, we know that students engaging in remote learning will be able to engage with other students online at certain times. We are planning for this to involve students and teachers from their own school. Subject to further Ministry direction, or if the number of students participating in Remote Learning is very high, we may be required to create virtual classrooms. If so, students across the District in similar grades could form a “class” and be assigned to a teacher who will deliver online instruction.

Will students be able to switch between In Person and Remote Learning?
We understand that family realities can change and will do our best to support students and families in the best way possible. Based on the direction from the Ministry, we think there may be designated points where a requested change can be implemented. The timing of requests for change will have to be considered relative to assessment periods, semesters, class size, and available staff. We are working with the Ministry to better understand how to support change requests.

Why do I need to decide by August 14th if my child is going to be learning remotely from home?
To plan for the successful return to school on September 3rd, we need to know how many students will be opting for Remote Learning. This could require adjustments to class assignments, staffing, and if necessary, some teachers could be assigned to provide remote learning for students at home.  

  • The opportunity for switching between In Person and Remote learning will be dependent on an appropriate class placement being available. This may be at the end of an instructional period (i.e. each term at the elementary level and each quadmester at the secondary level). Exceptions may be made on a case by case basis for students that have special circumstances.

     Will technology be provided for my child?

  • If students do not have access to technology, it can be provided for students who are learning remotely.
  • Families will receive more information in the coming weeks on how to request technology.

How will the unique needs of my child be addressed?
Staff in every school will spend time preparing for differentiated supports for vulnerable students. A school-wide approach will be taken to identifying, understanding and addressing the disproportionate impact of remote learning on underserved and/or vulnerable students. These students will be prioritized for higher access to daily schooling and interventions etc. When differentiating support, staff will consider special education needs, including individual education plans and placement in specialized program classes, mental health and well-being, impact of poverty, Indigenous, Black and racialized students, International students and English as a second language and English Literacy Development.

For more information please visit Return to School Plan 2020 webpage.



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