Sanitizer and mask in school

Return to Learning: Town Hall Transcript

UPDATED AUGUST 24, 2020 – All updates in Red

On August 11th, 2020, our Director of Education and Education Superintendents provided an update on our current Return to Learning plan for September. The community was asked to submit questions through an online form, as well as through our social media platforms. A copy of this video can be viewed here:

Referenced in the video is our Return to Learning Plan. We urge all parents, students and community members to read through the plan carefully, as it contains a detailed list of all procedures in place for a conventional model of return.

Return to Learning Plan [PDF]

Return to Learning: Town Hall Transcript

Below is a list of topics covered in our town hall video. If you have additional questions, you may submit them through our online form, or contact your school directly. School administration will be back in office on August 17, 2020.


Registration Survey

We are surrounded by uncertainty and bombarded in the media with thousands of studies and stories and plans and conflicting information. It is completely understandable that families are worried and maybe a little scared. It’s an uncertain and scary time. Lakehead Public Schools receives direction from the Ministry of Education, and has worked closely with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit on this reopening plan

Our survey was not about parents choosing a model, but rather about choosing to send your child to school for each of the models for reopening. Lakehead Public Schools did not choose the model for return, the Ontario government, specifically the MOE, has deemed how schools will reopen. We are governed by a guidance memo, and the details of that memo are reflected in our Reopening Plan, which you can review on our website.

There are many, many aspects of the reopening plan that come directly from the Ministry of Education. Where Lakehead Public Schools has been granted power to make local decisions about returning to school, we have been guided first and foremost by the health and safety of our students and staff.

If you have not completed the survey, please do so before August 14, 2020. If you wish to change your registration, please contact:

Tracing, Tracking and Outbreak Management

All tracing, tracking and outbreak management falls under the purvey of the TBDHU, who takes their direction the provincial Public Health Command Table. TBDHU is waiting for the provincial guidance memo, but presently the direction is as follows:

  • If a student or staff member has a suspected case, they will be required to contact local assessment centre for testing
  • While awaiting test result, close contacts (cohort or class) would monitor closely for symptoms
  • IF individual tests negative they can return to school 24 hours after symptoms go away
  • IF positive, the TBDHU will follow up with the case and would conduct a risk assessment of their contacts (this is typically those in close contact for longer than 15 minutes) and provide direction on next steps.
  • When someone tests positive for COVID-19, they will be followed/managed by a public health nurse and we use a non-test based approach for guiding our decision on when to discharge someone from self-isolation and consider them resolved. A non-test based approach is recommended by Ontario’s Ministry of Health Testing and Clearance Guidance document and an individual does not need to have a negative test result to be cleared by public health. A case can discontinue isolation 14 days after symptom onset (or 14 days from positive test result, if asymptomatic) as long as the individual is not feverish, and symptoms have been improving for at least 72 hours
  • Confirmed cases of COVID-19 should generally not be re-tested within 90 days of clearance, as positive results after clearance are not uncommon due to persistent shedding of the virus.
  • To assist the Healthy unit in their investigation, schools will be closely tracking attendance in classes, on buses, and in childcare programs

Itinerant Teachers and Occasional Staff

The Ministry has indicated that elementary students will receive the full breadth of curriculum, including specialized teachers like Core French and Native Language. This means schedules will run as they normally do. We do not have enough qualified occasional staff to bubble or cohort supply teachers, SSPs and ECEs, so we will rely on the professionalism of our staff. All staff will be masked, and any teachers or occasional staff will wash their hands upon leaving a classroom, and as soon as they enter another classroom. Distancing measures will be in place and all staff movement, including supervision areas, will be tracked.

What will Kindergarten look like?

The kindergarten program is play-based and inquiry driven, and running an effective program with the current requirements will be challenging. We have a team working right now on creating the guidelines for schools, but there are a few things we know:

  • We will restrict the types of toys and furnishings in Kindergarten rooms to ensure we have only easy-to-clean rooms
  • We will not be able to ensure 1m distance at all times in kindergarten rooms – 4 and 5 year olds will not be able to sit in isolation all day, and that’s not how kids learn
  • Staff will be wearing PPE appropriate for the distances they will encounter in kindergarten
  • Educators will be encouraged to conduct outdoor lessons frequently
  • We are considering cohorting within the classroom to keep students to particular areas or stations for the day, with cleaning between
  • We will endeavour to run the program as normally as possible
  • JKs will begin with a gentle entry program as per usual, but the open house that usually occurs on the PA day to start the school year will not take place
  • Kindergarten students do NOT need to come every day

Remote learning for Elementary and Secondary

Online learning in the Spring was rapidly put in place and was somewhat considered “emergency learning.” This Fall, online learning will look and function very differently. The online tools, such as Edsby, Microsoft Teams and Seesaw, that will be used to connect teachers and students from home will be the same tools used in the classroom to provide for consistency. Every day there will be synchronous learning times, the length of which will be determined by grade level.

Elementary Daily Schedule

  • Attendance will be taken daily
  • 300 minutes of instruction (combination of synchronous and asynchronous)
  • Digital platforms will be SeeSaw and Microsoft Teams
  • Large group, small group and individual instruction
  • Instruction provided by more than one teacher, and the student may or may not be “attached” to their home school Teaching and Learning
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Full breadth of curriculum offered
  • Focus will be on overall expectations
  • Assessment and evaluation of skills and knowledge in all curricular areas
  • Independent study through project-based or inquiry-based learning where possible
  • Specific expectations in terms of synchronous learning, check-ins and small-group learning will be developed by division

Secondary Daily Schedule

  • Students will be timetabled in two classes per quadmester, one in the morning and one in the afternoon
  • 300 minutes of instruction per day split (combination of synchronous and asynchronous)
  • Any synchronous learning will take place during the designated timetabled course (either the morning or the afternoon)
  • Digital platforms will be Edsby, Brightspace and Microsoft Teams
  • Students will have two teachers per quadmester and will remain attached to their home secondary school
  • Students will remain in their course selections as much as possible depending on availability of specialized teachers
  • Focus will be on overall expectations
  • Assessment and evaluation of skills and knowledge throughout the course, which will include a variety of final assessment tasks that could include exams
  • Independent study through project-based or inquiry-based learning where possible

As was the case in during the emergency closure period, students engaging in remote learning will be supported by Lakehead Public Schools with respect to devices and connectivity.

Special Education

Students will continue to receive support from Special Education staff, including teachers and SSPs, based on individual need – whether at home or at school. Kindergarten-12 Summer transition programs supporting students with Special Education needs will run from August 17th-28th. IEPs (Individual Education Plans), including Transition Plans, will be updated. IPRCs will be held appropriately during the school year with the option of holding virtual meetings. SEA equipment will be available to students whether in school or at home. Frequent cleaning will occur of high-touch areas and equipment. The use of shared items or equipment will be discouraged, and the equipment that must be shared should be cleaned and disinfected before and after each use. Students are encouraged to wear a mask; however, if a student is unable to tolerate a mask, those situations will be discussed with the principal on an individual basis.

Paraprofessionals who cannot meet effectively virtually are able to come into the school and provide services to students. All visitors to the school, including paraprofessionals will follow all health and safety guidelines.

Can I change my mind about in-class or remote learning during the year?

If parents choose the Remote Learning option, they may choose to send their child/ren back to school at certain points throughout the year. These dates are outlined in our Return to Learning Plan and are in place to ensure that our classrooms and schools are adequately staffed. If parents choose to send their child/ren back to school and later wish to change to Remote Learning, they may do so at any time. Please be aware that there will be processing delay when changing from in-class to remote, as we will need to place them in the appropriate online classrooms.

Secondary spares in a quadmester system

In our present plan, spares will take place in a designated area within the school, such as a cafeteria or library. Students may choose to leave the school during their spare.

Co-curricular activities (sports, clubs, field trips)

Our goal for September is to take this slow, focus on health and safety, teaching and learning. Co-curriculars, like sports, clubs, drama, field trips, etc. are all on hold for now. Our Athletic Director has been meeting with Athletic Directors across the province, as well as reviewing guidelines from OPHEA, OFSAA, and sport-specific organizations, and has identified low, medium and high-risk sports. A schedule will be developed to roll these sports out when it is safe to do so.

Music Classes

Classes with wind and/or brass instruments, as well as vocal classes at both elementary and secondary levels will not be taught in the first term or semester. We will revisit these classes as we move forward in the school year and come closer to the next semester.

Update: Classes with wind and/or brass instruments will not be cancelled, but rather will be taught without in-class performance. More information will be communicated by the schools.

Cafeterias, Food Support Programs and Foods Classes

Cafeterias will not be offering food and there will be no vending machines. Microwave ovens will not be available for students. Food support programs, like breakfast clubs and snack programs, will run. We will have guidelines available to schools focusing on grab and go foods and ensuring there are no mingling of cohorts to distribute foods. For September, hot lunch programs will not run, though we will be investigating how to safely start these programs up again. At this time, there will be no milk sales at school. However, we will explore how to do this safely with the TBDHU. Foods classes will continue to run in our Secondary schools.

Masking for Students and Staff

Staff PPE

  • All staff required to wear a medical mask
  • All staff provided with face shield they can use
  • Specialized PPE for unique situations, like toileting


  • All students in grades 4-12 required to wear a mask
  • Lakehead Public Schools will provide reusable cloth mask to students
  • Exemptions to be made, parents to discuss with school principal
  • Not required to wear masks while eating and drinking, nor outside
  • Training and recommendations around mask cleaning provided to students and families
  • In grade 3/4 splits, students in grade 3 will wear masks

Cleaning and Sanitizing

Cleaning and sanitizing is covered in our Return to Learning Plan. Sanitizer will be available at each entry to school and classroom. Teachers will implement frequent hand hygiene breaks. Twice daily, high contact surfaces will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. There will be daily cleaning of the full school with approved products only (by the MOE and Public Health), and cleaning of shared materials between cohorts.

What is cohorting?

A cohort is a group of students who spend a regular amount of time together. In elementary, student to student contacts are limited to 50 during the instructional day, which means there will likely be two cohorts for every student – their class, and the students with them on the playground, or perhaps a before / after school program. In secondary, student to student contacts are limited to 100, which means two classes.

Lunch time / snack time / outside time procedures


  • Recess and snacks will be staggered and/or flipped
  • Students will eat in their classrooms with their cohort
  • Outside time and space will be limited so that cohort mingling is reduced
  • Limited number of classes in each space
  • Students will be informed about appropriate games and play that respect distancing
  • Where possible and weather permitting, it will be encouraged that students eat lunch outside


  • Lunch will be eaten in their classrooms with the cohort from the first block
  • Students at secondary may leave at lunch
  • Students are encouraged to eat outside

Transportation (Busing)

Bus routes will continue as per STSTB policy. Buses will be cleaned daily. Seating plans will be made, and siblings will be permitted to sit together. Distance will be maintained as much as possible, and children grades 4-12 will be masked. Parents who would rather drop and pick up their children will hear from their school regarding the protocol to do so.

Mental Health Support

We will continue to work with School Mental Health Ontario to provide us with the tools we need to support the mental health of all students. The Board will continue to implement a tiered approach for mental health, which includes support from the mental health lead and a total of 6 social workers, 3 in elementary and 3 in secondary. Referral Processes will remain the same for student mental health concerns. All mental health services offered by both LPS and the community will continue to be posted on Board and school websites. Summer transition programs supporting students with mental health needs will run from August 17th-28th.

School Calendar

Students begin school on September 3, 2020. Prior to this date, there are 3 PA days for our educators to receive training on:

  • Keeping themselves safe
  • Recognizing symptoms
  • Proper hygiene and cleaning protocols
  • Tracking and tracing
  • Curriculum and communication
  • Training students to adhere to health and safety protocols

How will Secondary quadmesters work?

Normally the secondary schedule allows for 4 courses per semester. All students receive 300 minutes of instruction per day and that will not change. According to the guidelines given to us by the Ministry we must create a timetable that limits student to student contacts to 100 over a 1 to 2 week time period. We are also encouraged to keep secondary school students in a maximum of 2 in person class cohorts. A quadmester helps to achieve these goals – we are able to offer the same school and student timetables as planned, but split the course delivery between two quads in semester one (Sept 3-Nov 5, Nov 11 – Jan 25) and two quads in semester 2 (Feb 1 – April 14, April 20 – June 22).

  • Students will take 2 courses per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon
  • Students will change courses after 44 days – 2 for the first quad, 2 new for the next quad
  • We are in the process of finalizing the schedules and exact times for the classes. However, the start and end times of the school day will not change 9:30 – 3:30. This schedule will include breaks during the instructional time
  • Exams will occur after each quadmester

Student course selections at the secondary level were made last February and timetables will be finalized in the next two weeks. Timetables will be sent home before school begins.


In an effort to safeguard the health and safety of our students, Lakehead Public Schools has made the difficult decision to cancel KICKSTART classes for the 2020-21 school year.

Special supports (i.e. speech, occupational therapy)

Many supports like Speech and Occupational Therapy will continue to be offered in our schools and for those students who are at home. At this time we are supporting the offering of these services virtually so as to limit the number of people who are in our schools. This may change as we work our way through the school year.

School visitors policy

Visitors will be by appointment only, and there will be protocols in place that include masking, hand washing upon entry, and use of specific entries. Parents will not be able to enter the school to drop students off, but instead will be met outside by staff. Schools will develop a protocol for parents to drop off forgotten items (e.g. lunch, books).

IB Programme

The IB Programme will continue as planned. There may be changes to the scheduling (see: Quadmesters), but we are working to ensure the programme continues to run as closely to previous years as possible.


Our Return to Learning Plan outlines the role of the parent in regards to screening. There will be no temperature taking at school entry points. Parents are required to screen for symptoms at home before they put their child on a bus, or drop them off at school. This should be done everyday. We know there are many reasons for symptoms, but we will be very strict requiring students or staff to not be at school if they are sick or symptomatic – even if some symptoms may be from a cold. We are not taking any chances; if a child is sent home with symptoms, you will be required to contact the Assessment Centre or Public Health. The screening tool will be clearly communicated by school, and asks for NEW symptoms, so students who are habitually symptomatic will be ok to be at school (i.e. allergies).

What are tracking sheets?

Tracking sheets are used to track students during the day throughout the school. For example, if a class goes to the library, we will record the names of each student and cohort that have used the library. This is used to maintain records for contact tracing of who was in which space at a certain time on a certain date. Students who use spaces on their own time (i.e. the library during a spare) will be required to sign in and out when using the space.

French Immersion for remote learners

French Immersion will be offered through remote learning. We will have french immersion teachers assigned to online classrooms to ensure that FI programming continues if a parent chooses the remote learning option.

Rural Remote Learning options

Should you experience connectivity issues due to rural remote learning, we will work with you to ensure that the appropriate technology is provided. If this still does not work, paper-based coursework will be provided.

Co-op Programs

Co-op programs, as it stands right now, will be running. While we are exploring the option of virtual co-op placements at the request of the Ministry of Education, more information will come in the next few weeks about the co-op program, and the option for face-to-face co-op placements.

Remote Learning: assessment and evaluation

Both elementary and secondary teachers will perform the required assessment and evaluation, whether it is face-to-face or remote learning. Students will be graded as they would be if they were in the classroom.

What if a positive COVID-19 test occurs at my school?

As per the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, contact tracing will be performed, and all individuals that have come in contact will have to be assessed. This does not mean they will need to be tested, but will have to be monitored for symptoms. The communications process will be developed by TBDHU and we will communicate that once we receive it.

What will remote Kindergarten Look like?

Remote learning for kindergarten will involve synchronous teaching times where educators will connect with students live via Microsoft Teams. These sessions will include activities like read-alouds, virtual sharing circles, and math activities like counting. Children will have the opportunity to interact with the educators and develop social skills. Asynchronous learning opportunities will be provided through SeeSaw, and will include explorations and inquiry activities that caregivers can do with their children. They will have the opportunity to share their learning at synchronous sessions. All activities will follow the Ontario Kindergarten Curriculum guidelines.