March 11th, 2022
On Wednesday, March 9, the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health announced the lifting of a number of COVID-19 restrictions. As of March 21, certain COVID-19 protocols such as masking, cohorting and confirmation of daily COVID-19 screening will no longer be required.
The Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) looks forward to providing a more normal school experience for students and staff. We also understand that not all staff and families feel comfortable with these changes. Please know that we will continue to put the health and safety of our students and staff first. The WRDSB expects everyone in our school communities to respect and understand our individual choices when it comes to our health.
What you need to know about the return to school on Monday, March 21:
- Students, staff and visitors will no longer be required to wear a mask as of Monday, March 21.
- We respect and support students and staff who choose to continue to wear masks because they feel more comfortable doing so.
- The Board will continue to provide free masks and eye protection to staff and students who wish to use them.
COVID-19 Symptom Screening
- Students and staff should continue to use the COVID-19 school and child care screening tool to self-screen each day before attending school.
- The WRDSB will no longer be verifying that students and staff have completed the COVID-19 school and child care screening tool.
- Please stay home if you are feeling ill.
- Students and staff who develop COVID-19 symptoms at school will continue to be able to obtain a free Rapid Antigen Test kit. You are not required to take a test.
- Staff and students can also obtain free Rapid Antigen Test kits via participating community locations. Please see https://covid-19.ontario.ca/rapid-test-locator to find a location near you.
- Cohorting and distancing will no longer be required in school or on student transportation.
- Assigned seats and cohorting will no longer be required in student transportation.
- Elementary students can play and learn together across cohorts, classes and grades, both indoors and outdoors and during lunch and recess.
- Shared spaces, such as libraries, tech labs, theatre and music rooms can be
fully utilized without distancing.
- Programs across grades, such as reading buddies, can return.
Case and Contact Management
- The WRDSB will continue to report school absenteeism rates to Region of Waterloo Public Health should they reach a defined level (approximately 30% above their baseline).
- We will also continue to report daily on absenteeism and closures through the absence reporting tool (ART) for posting on Ontario.ca until April 14, 2022. At that time, the Government of Ontario will decide whether or not to continue reporting absenteeism data.
- We will continue to report any school closures due to COVID-19 on our website.
Elementary Year-End Celebrations and Secondary Graduation Ceremonies
- In-person graduation ceremonies and proms are now allowed to take place. More information on graduations and year-end celebrations will be shared via each school community.
Returning from International Travel
- Under current federal travel requirements, if you travel internationally, when you return to Canada you must wear a mask at all times when in public spaces (including schools and child care) for your first 14 days in Canada. You must also maintain a list of all close contacts, and monitor yourself for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
- In addition, as announced earlier, children under 12 who are unvaccinated or only have one dose of the vaccine, who travel with adults who are unvaccinated or only have one dose of the vaccine, must quarantine for 14 days.
- Individuals 12 and older who are unvaccinated or only have one dose of the vaccine must quarantine for 14 days, even if they have travelled with fully vaccinated adults.
Extracurricular Activities and Athletics
- We look forward to resuming athletics and extracurricular activities in our schools. Thank you to our staff and parent volunteers who make these activities possible.
- The WRDSB will no longer require staff to disclose their vaccination status, and regular rapid testing of unvaccinated staff will no longer be required.
- For anyone seeking to receive a first, second or booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit regionofwaterloo.ca/GetaVaccine
- All 303 full-day Kindergarten classrooms and all 93 Alternative Continuum of Education (ACE) classrooms have been equipped with a portable HEPA filtration unit in addition to another 668 units deployed to other classrooms/school spaces based on requirements.
- WRDSB heating ventilation and air conditioning units use MERV 11 of greater rated filters and many have been upgraded to MERV 13 rated filters. For schools or parts of schools without mechanical ventilation, standalone high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter units are being used.
- Given the lifting of some of the current health and safety measures, we recognize there may be some families who are not comfortable sending their children to school immediately following March Break. If you have concerns about your child(ren) returning to In-Person learning immediately after March Break, please reach out to your school administrator.
Please note that, during a Special Board Meeting on Friday, March 11, WRDSB Trustees voted to write a letter to Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and Minister of Education to request a delay in lifting the mask restriction by two weeks after the return from March Break. If this request is approved, the timelines for lifting masking referenced above may change. Should that happen, we will update the WRDSB Community as soon as possible.