Thursday, August 27, 2020
Good Morning! I have not had too many messages from families but the ones I have received have indicated where concerns lie for families. I decided that it may be helpful to share the questions and responses as I think the more information you have, the somewhat easier it is to envision what school will look like this September.
First Day – On Friday, Sept 4th - each student's parent will get an email letter from their homeroom teacher for this year. This welcoming letter from each child's teacher will obviously tell you who their teacher is and the location of that classroom. The letter may also have any other information the teacher would want you to know. Some of us will have clipboards of all the class lists to guide any who forget the details that were sent.
Due to privacy issues - we don't share class lists. There will NOT be any students switching teachers/classrooms. I already gave an opportunity for placement requests in the spring. I trust fully in the thought process our staff put into the best placements for your child.
In order to reduce the number of people on the schoolyard and encourage social distancing, we are requesting that you "drop and go". There is supervision on the yard starting at 8:40 but we encourage families to arrive as close to 8:55 as possible to reduce wait time and the urge to hug friends that have not been seen in a long time. We will be helping students to disembark from buses and guiding them to their meeting places on the first day as well. It will be a busy day and attendance will not be completed until 9:15 so please do not worry about being late.
Bubbling – I have received some messages from families asking me to put certain students together because they are already bubbled. I cannot accommodate these requests because the logistics are innumerable. Class lists are created in the spring and, at that time, we made sure that if there were family members in the same grade, they were put together (i.e. twins).
Staggered Entry – As you saw in the email from the SCDSB last week, there is a staggered entry for students so our first day plans outlined above will apply for Sept 8, 9 and 10 in order to set up the new routine for entering the school yard from now on:
- Students with surnames A-G will attend Tuesday, Sept. 8
- Students with surnames H-O will join A-G in attending Wednesday, Sept. 9
- All elementary students will attend Thursday, Sept. 10
- Junior Kindergarten students will begin attendance on Thursday, Sept. 10 as previously planned and communicated with parents
Masks – As you have likely heard in the news and elsewhere, students in grades 4-8 must wear a mask. We are asking students to wear their own masks as they will be more comfortable. If you are having some made, consider one a day in order to account for washing. Labelling the mask is also something to think about. More information is coming to you next week about where students will keep their mask when they take it off to eat. If you have a child with sensitivity issues or just want them to get used to wearing it, try by starting to ask them to wear it during their screen time or while watching Youtube or a movie. Grade 3 and below mask wearing is not mandatory but we are asking you to strongly consider wearing one as we know (right now) that this is a good way of preventing or limiting spread.
Face Shields - Your child is welcome to wear one but this does not replace a mask. If they are wearing a shield, they also have to wear a mask. The shield is protecting the eyes and a mask is for the nose and throat. A great link to caps and hats with shields that you can buy online if you are interested (http://https://www.manoplus.com/collections/caps-hats)
A Child Presents Symptoms at School - We are waiting for Simcoe Muskoka Public Health to send us specific protocols to follow. I would think they would include notifying parents for a pick up, isolating the student with a staff member and informing contacts. But, honestly, that is my best guess until we get the protocol from the SMDHU.
Classroom Seating Arrangements - All of our classrooms will have set seating plans and there is no grouping of students in those desks. Kindergarten and younger grades do need to move about in the classroom far more than older students and specific information on how to manage those grades is still to come. With every class, they are "cohorted", meaning they are to remain with that group for learning time, eating time and playing time outside.
All Weather Gear - Please know that we are going to be moving to a lot of outdoor time and we would suggest that you get splash pants, rain coat, etc. for the fall as we will go outside in the rain. Obviously, we will not go out in a thunderstorm and downpour but light showers are going to be outside.
What will the kids need? - Apart from layers and good outdoor gear, they will need a lunch kit. Some families have requested a list of school supplies to ensure there is no sharing with others. A list is forthcoming next week if your choice is to purchase your own items but please rest assured that the plan is to reduce sharing of items that are difficult to clean. No pencil or pen sharing, etc.
Lunch – Students will eat in their class and are not permitted to leave school grounds. No food or drink will be sold. There is no breakfast program. There will be some "grab and go" items in a "Feed a Friend" bucket in each class but a staff member will be handing it out if a child says they are hungry (ie. It won't be a communal grab).
Do some packed lunches - For those younger students perhaps pack their lunches in their lunch kits and have them independently get it out and open things. You will then be able to see what works and what doesn't and they will get to practice doing it all by themselves. We want to be reducing how much we touch anything of other people's but this isn't a bad thing as I really do feel like it is the perfect opportunity to gain confidence.
Separation Anxiety and Drop off - We know that many kids have been solely with yourselves for months and months and drop off may be a challenge. Since no parents are on the yard you are going to have to drop and go. We are working on a plan that will hopefully make this easier for kids but these plans are going to take time and the collaboration of staff and they are still on holidays. General things that can help your child with anxiety -
1) Do not include them in the conversations about back to school (you are the adult and know your child better than they know themselves). If you are worried, the message to the child is that there is something to worry about and they will be scared. Instead, share your calm not your chaos. We realize that there is a leap of faith happening right now and please know that we are going to make Admiral Collingwood as safe as we can. We cannot eliminate risk but we can mitigate it.
2) Be confident and positive about school and share nothing of your worries or anxieties. Remind them of the things they love and discuss all the things that they will enjoy about returning to school
3) Get them off social media as much as possible. It is filled with misinformation, people voicing opinions they wouldn't if they weren't behind a screen and is filling their heads with worries.
4) Get them into a sleep routine now. Start this week by getting them into bed a bit earlier and ensuring that this routine in another two weeks time is the same as what the school routine will be. Sleep is one of the biggest healers we have.
5) Find ways to give them increased independence. Independence brings confidence and confidence battles anxiety. Get them to make a meal, pack a lunch, open their own snacks and over the next couple of weeks. Actively point out when they have managed without you. They need to feel confidence that they can tackle things without you and this truly will help with anxiety.
6) Get them active - I truly believe that anxiety is a physical response to fear. If you can reset the body, you can reduce the anxiety. Perhaps do the drive, walk, run or bike ride up to the school a few times a week.
7) If you are worried about this being an issue please consider buying a copy of 'The Kissing Hand' and start this routine now. It works and does help. There is another great one called 'The Invisible String' and I got a soft piece of string to go into their pocket which helped too.
Outline of plans for drop off:
For kindergarten: Students will be greeted by a staff member outside who you will be able to transition specifically to. We are asking for you to prepare your kids for this by walking or driving to school and showing them where they will be dropped off and talking about what that will look like with a confidence and positivity (even if you don't really feel like it). There will be tears but we are prepared. Regardless of a pandemic, there are always some temporary tears and the kinder team has always been fantastic when working to turn a day around. Please know that once parents leave, the tears almost always stop so making the goodbye longer is actually more difficult. All kindergarten students will be dropped off at the kindergarten yard. We recognize that parents will want to park their car and walk their child to the gate (photo opportunity). The parking lot is busy so we prefer it if you could walk or roll to school but we know that there are individual situations. We are considering a specific time for drop off for students in JK who are not on the bus – more information on that will be in next week's message.
Drop off for Grades 1-8: Bus/bike/scooter/skateboard/walking – are all the most preferred methods of getting to school. Buses will be disembarked one at a time when they arrive at the school. We will help guide those students to their meeting spot (more information coming in next week's email). If you are dropping your child off by car, please plan for the process to take 5-10 minutes. Cars can pull in to the queue to be off-loaded by a staff member. Drivers are asked to remain in their vehicle so please make sure your child is ready for this process ahead of time. That is, make sure their backpack is handy for them or the staff member to get. Parking your car and walking your child to the yard cannot occur during these times. No animals other than service animals wearing a vest are allowed on school property between the hours of 8:30 am and 3:30 pm.
Back Gate: If you are arriving at the school via the back gate, please plan on saying goodbye at the gate as no parents are to be on the yard.
Safety Protocols - On the "first day" all cohorts/classes will be going on a tour of the school with their teachers to learn about hallway directions, protocols for washroom use, use of water bottle filling stations (no water fountains), etc. A staff member may do this a few times for classes that are younger so that they become comfortable and familiar.
Labelling – I'm a fan of the permanent black marker on labels to indicate last name on items but we still have an account with Mabel's Labels if you would prefer. I would highly recommend labelling absolutely everything as there will be no way for you to come into the school and check bins. There will not be a lost and found. https://mabelslabels.ca/en_CA/fundraising/support/ - search Admiral Collingwood.
Travelling - If you have left the country or someone who resides in your home has been out of the country there is a mandatory 2 week isolation period in which students cannot attend school. Please inform the school if you are going to be in that situation as public health is tracking this and we want to be safe and in compliance.
Bussing – The Simcoe County Transportation Consortium is developing seating plans for each bus. Families will be sitting together on the bus. If your child rides the bus, please expect a message in the week of August 31.
Belongings – The coat racks will not be used. Backpacks will go on the back of each child's chair.