Frequently Asked Questions 2021-2022

Limestone Learning Foundation
Please find below frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to the return to school in September 2021. Many of the answers contained below are pulled from the Ministry of Education's COVID-19: Health, safety and operational guidance for schools (2021-2022). Others have been answered with consultation from provincial and local health officials. We will continue to update these questions as new information becomes available and/or circumstances in our local community or district change. This means answers may change over time.

If you have a question you do not see answered, please email it to communications@limestone.on.ca and we will do our best to find answers and include them in the appropriate category below. 

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work as quickly as we can to provide answers.

School Routines/Operations

When does school start?

The first day of school for students is Tuesday, September 7, 2021.

Will Kindergarten be a staggered start?

Added Aug. 19, 2021: Yes. Schools may use a staggered entry to support the teaching of health and safety protocols to the youngest learners and ensure a smooth transition. Staggered entry may occur on Tuesday, Sept. 7, Wednesday, Sept. 8 and Thursday, Sept. 9. By Friday Sept. 10 the full Kindergarten class should be attending school. Schools will determine the best staggered entry plan that meets the needs of students and share that with families.

Will Grade 9 students transitioning to new schools have orientation sessions/school visits before school begins?

Schools may provide these opportunities to families. Schools will contact families directly with information once they reopen in late August.

How early can students arrive at school?

Update Aug. 24, 2021

Elementary:
Students may not be dropped off at the school yard until supervision begins which is 15 minutes before the school's first bell of the day. This will vary from school to school.

Secondary: Classrooms will be open to students 15 minutes before period 1 begins. Students who do not ride the bus to school should not arrive prior to 15 minutes before the start of period 1. Students who drive themselves or are dropped off must use designated parking and drop-off areas and proceed to the appropriate entry designated for their use. Walkers should do the same. Students who ride the bus and may arrive at school with more than 15 minutes before class will proceed to their period 1 class.

What will recess look like?

Students may remove their masks when outdoors. Students do not need to stay within their cohort during recess and breaks outdoors, but distancing will be encouraged between cohorts as much as possible. Students are permitted to use shared materials outdoors with appropriate hand hygiene.  

Update Aug. 19, 2021: 
While the updated guidance indicates students do not need to stay within their cohort during recess and outdoors at this time, as a precaution, elementary cohorts will start the year on the yard in cohorts.


Will lockers/cubbies be available to students?

Yes, lockers and cubbies are permitted. Lockers will be gradually distributed after school starts. Update Aug. 19, 2021: Schools will likely stagger entry and use of these spaces to ensure as much distancing as possible.

Can school assemblies and grade forums (secondary) take place?

Yes. School assemblies or other student/school gatherings are permitted and should follow the relevant provincial requirements. Update Aug. 19, 2021: As a precaution, schools will not be organizing larger gatherings in the school to start the school year. This may be revisited at a later date. If assemblies eventually do occur, students would remain in their class cohort and students would be masked.

Will cafeterias be open?

Students may eat together in school cafeterias providing a minimum distance of two metres (six feet) is maintained between cohorts with as much distancing as possible in a cohort. Schools will make arrangements according to their specific circumstances. Secondary students are permitted to eat off-campus. Update Aug. 19, 2021: Food service will not be available for the beginning of the school year.

Will students have access to the Food Sharing Program at school?

Yes. Nutrition/third party food programs and non-instructional food events (such as hot lunches) are permitted to operate, provided food handlers use adequate food handling and safety practices.

Will field trips be permitted?

Yes, schools may choose to offer field trips as day trips and overnight stays are permitted and should follow the relevant provincial requirements under the Reopening Ontario Act. Everyone must be screened upon arrival. Students will be cohorted throughout the duration of the trip, with the number of students and staff to a cohort varying based on grouping arrangements. Schools may implement different procedures based on its individual circumstances. Schools will share more information about these with students and families directly.

Will there be extra-curricular activities?

Schools may choose to offer extra-curriculars. The Ministry of Education has indicated extra-curricular activities such as sports and clubs may resume in person. There are, however, several safety measures which will vary from activity to activity and school to school based on its individual circumstances. Schools will share more information about these with students and families directly.

Update Sept. 1, 2021: The Kingston and Area Secondary School Athletic Association (KASSAA) has announced that a return to training for fall sports has been approved by the KFL& Public Health and school boards. Coaches and student athletes can begin practices during the first week of school with safety protocols in place. Fall sports include: Cross Country, Football, Golf, Boys Volleyball, Field Hockey, and Girls Basketball.

Are volunteers, families and other visitors allowed inside schools?

Yes. All visitors to a school are required to self-screen in advance and to wear a medical mask (for example, surgical/procedural) while on school premises. A medical mask will be provided by the school if needed. All visitors must sign in and provide contact information for contact tracing purposes should it be required. At the advice of the local public health unit, school boards may be asked to restrict visitor access.

Will schools be permitted to allow school council meetings and fundraisers?

Update Aug. 19, 2021: For now, virtual school council meetings are preferred. In-person meetings may occur when attendance is confirmed in advance to ensure adequate spacing is available in the meeting area. If numbers exceed spacing limitations, in-person meetings will be moved online. Where possible, meetings should occur outdoors. In-person fundraiser may be permitted if gatherings comply with current public health requirements and the school administration has reviewed the safety plan. Advance screening and attendance tracking for contact tracing are required for all in-person meetings/gatherings.

Will child-care facilities in schools be open?

Yes. Child-care operators are permitted to open and will follow provincial and KFL&A Public Health guidance. Please contact providers directly for more information.
Learning Model

What will learning look like?

Students will return to daily in-person learning.

Elementary school students in Kindergarten through Grade 8 will remain in one cohort for the full day.

Secondary students will follow the quadmester model (two courses at a time) at least for the full half of the school year. Update Aug. 19, 2021: The secondary quadmester model is organized as two “quads” during semester 1 (September to January) with students attending two classes per day (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) during the first quad, and then two new classes in the second quad.

LDSB is offering a Virtual School option for September 2021 for students who learn best in the online environment, or require a virtual environment due to underlying medical conditions for themselves or their family members. This is a year-long  decision. Any further potential movement between models will be dependent on space. 

Will in-person students participate in music, arts and physical education classes?

Yes. Subject teachers will implement adjustments to meet health and safety requirements. The delivery of curriculum may look different in some areas based on a school’s individual circumstances. 

Will expanded opportunities programs such as co-operative education, Specialist High Schools Major, apprenticeships, dual credits and technological education programs take place?

Co-operative education community placements and apprenticeships are permitted. Students and placements must follow public health guidelines and requirements under the reopening Ontario Act. If in-person placements are not possible, students may be offered virtual placements where feasible. Students will be provided with PPE for co-op placements as needed, and pre-placement must include a safety component related to COVID-19 precautions. Specialist High Schools Major, dual credits and technological education programs may take place in person according to school safety protocols. These programs will not be offered in the LDSB Virtual School.

Will adult and continuing education take place?

Yes. Programming options may vary. Please contact the Limestone School of Community Education for details.

What mental health supports are available?

Ensuring the mental health and well-being of students and staff remains a priority for Limestone. We will continue to use a tiered approach for mental health supports by providing classroom and whole school level supports to all students and target intensive help to those who have been most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic including referrals to community mental health providers. School-based mental health supports will continue to include access to Student Support Counsellors, Adolescent Care Workers, Attendance Counsellors and Social Workers. School Mental Health Ontario is providing school boards with comprehensive back to school resources which can be customized to address local priorities.

What special education supports are available?

The board is committed to supporting students who require special education supports and services to successfully engage in learning. Staff will continue to work with families to ensure a smooth transition back to in-person learning or virtual school learning if this option has been chosen. The board’s Educational Services staff will continue to work with school staff and community partners to ensure that innovative supports and services are in place to meet a range of special education needs.

Will there be EQAO assessments in the 2021-2022 school year?

The Ministry of Education has announced EQAO may proceed. Grade 3 and 6 math, reading and writing and Grade 9 math testing will proceed. The Grade 10 OSSLT (literacy test) will also proceed in an online format this year, however, the graduation requirement for 2021-2022 has been waived. Accommodations will be made to allow virtual students to attend their home school to write the OSSLT.

EQAO has posted tentative assessment administration dates for the 2021–2022 school year. These dates may vary slightly as the agency continues to respond to Ministry of Education and public health directives. Please visit the EQAO website for additional information and updates.

Do I need to register my student for September?

All students have been automatically moved back to their in-person home school for September 2021. You do not need to register if your student is returning to in-person school unless you are new to the Limestone District School Board. We are currently finalizing plans for the virtual school based on information collected from families in June. If you would like more information on the LDSB Virtual School or changing your student’s model of learning for 2021-2022, please visit the LDSB Virtual School webpage.

Can I change my mind about which learning model my student attends?

In most cases, students for whom virtual learning is best are already part of the LDSB Virtual School. Enrolment in the virtual school is a year-long commitment. Any movement will be dependent on space. Wait lists may exist for some elementary grades or subject areas in secondary. If you would like more information on virtual school or changing your student’s model of learning for 2021-2022, please visit the LDSB Virtual School webpage. 

If my student lives outside of the LDSB, can they attend LDSB Virtual School?

Students need a permanent address within the LDSB catchment areas to attend a LDSB school, in person or virtually. 

How will you address learning gaps that have been worsened by the pandemic and extended school closures?

We know that the pandemic has affected students in different ways. Teachers and support staff will work together to assess the ongoing needs of all students. At the elementary level, educators will spend time doing diagnostic assessments in literacy and math to seek a clear understanding of students’ current strengths and needs. Programming will be tailored to meet the achievement levels of each individual student.  At the secondary level, educators will plan instruction to close achievement gaps, and will tailor their instruction to meet the needs of the student.
Health & Safety Protocols

What safety measures will be in place?

Students and staff attending in-person school will continue to follow direction from the Ministry of Education and KFL&A Public Health, and many of the same measures that were in place in 2020-2021 will remain. Some protocols may vary from site to site based on its unique circumstances. Some of the safety measures currently include:

  • daily screening for staff and students
  • regular hand hygiene
  • masks for students and staff (indoors only)
  • classroom and school routines that optimize physical distancing and outdoor time
  • enhanced daily facility cleaning practices
  • regular ventilation monitoring

Does my student have to wear a mask?

The Ministry of Education requires all students from Grade 1 to 12 and all staff to wear masks while indoors at school (including classrooms and common areas such as hallways) and on the school bus unless there is a necessary exemption (medical conditions or special needs) that would prevent them from wearing a mask.

In Limestone, we are also expecting and encouraging Kindergarten students to wear masks indoors. As was the case last year, staff will work toward compliance with compassion and a focus on education.

Update September 2, 2021: Families must fill out the LDSB Mask Exemption Form for students who cannot wear a mask for a medical or religious exemption.


Families are expected to provide non-medical or cloth masks for their student(s). A supply of non-medical masks will be available at schools for those students who require one. For those students who choose to wear a cloth mask, families will be responsible to ensure that it is appropriately cleaned.

Visitors (including family members) are required to wear a medical mask while on school premises. Medical masks will be provided by the school if needed.

Masks are not required outdoors but physical distancing is encouraged.

What if my student cannot wear a mask?

Update September 2, 2021: Masks are currently mandated for all students in Grades 1 to 12 by the Ministry of Education unless the student has a medical or religious exemption. Kindergarten students are expected and encouraged to wear masks wherever possible. Families must fill out the LDSB Mask Exemption Form for students who cannot wear a mask for a medical or religious exemption.

Students who cannot wear masks due to exemptions will be distanced at all times from students and staff within the classroom and on the yard (with exceptions made for students who require special education supports). Students in Grades 1-12 who will not wear a mask, and do not have a formal exemption, will not be allowed to attend face-to-face learning. These students and families will be directed to virtual school.

Will students and staff be required to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine to attend in-person school?

Update Aug. 19, 2021: The province announced on Aug. 17, 2021 that staff in school boards will be subject to a mandatory vaccination disclosure policy. Staff will be required to provide proof of full vaccination, a medical reason for not being vaccinated or submit to rapid testing. Visit our vaccination disclosure protocol page for more information including current vaccination rates.

The Immunization of Pupils’ Act governs the vaccinations of children and youth in Ontario. The Education Act provides no authority to school boards to make public health or medical decisions for anyone. The Chief Medical Officer of Health did recently indicate the province is reviewing mandatory vaccines required in Ontario schools, and is considering COVID-19 vaccination.

I want to know if my student’s teachers and classmates are vaccinated? How do I find out?

Update Aug. 23, 2021: While the province announced on Aug. 17, 2021 that staff in school boards will be subject to a mandatory vaccination disclosure policy and school boards will have to report board-wide vaccination rates, an individual's status will not be provided. A person’s vaccination status is private health information and cannot be shared. Visit our vaccination disclosure protocol page for more information including current vaccination rates.

How will families be notified of positive cases of COVID-19 in their class or school?

The board is currently reviewing the newly released outbreak management guidance with public health. More information will be shared with families soon.

What happens if there is positive case of COVID-19 in my student’s class or school?

Similar to last year, staff will work with public health to support contact tracing and provide necessary direction and guidance to families. For those classes that are dismissed and required to self-isolate, students may temporarily move to remote learning as required.

What happens if another lockdown/school closure occurs?

School boards have plans in place if schools are directed to close for in-person learning by the Ministry of Education or public health due to COVID-19 concerns.

What ventilation improvements have been made?

Update Aug. 23, 2021: School ventilation systems in all LDSB schools have been inspected and are in good working order. All classrooms will have filtered mechanical ventilation through existing or upgraded HVAC systems or stand-alone HEPA air filtration units. Schools with mechanical units will be closely monitored and filters changed on a frequent basis to ensure classrooms and other learning spaces are changing the air (cleaning through filtering). Classrooms that do not have filtered air will have HEPA unit(s) installed to ensure the air is changed frequently. All Kindergarten classrooms will have HEPA Air Purification units regardless of the type of ventilation in the school. Information on school ventilation systems will be shared on the board website in early September.
Transportation

How will busing work in September?

Busing will be offered in September at full capacity. Operating at full capacity may mean three (primary) students to a seat and the mixing of families. Safety protocols that were in place last year will continue. All riders in Grades 1 to 12 and adults will be required to wear masks unless a medical exemption exists. Kindergarten students are encouraged and expected to wear masks if possible. Riders will be assigned seats to assist with contact tracing should it be required. Buses will be cleaned according to KFL&A Public Health guidelines. 

Will buses be cancelled if a driver tests positive for COVID-19, or has to isolate due to COVID-19 symptoms?

Tri-Board Student Transportation has indicated there may be bus delays and cancellations due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Families should have a backup plan to transport their student(s) to school, and to arrange child care where required, if their bus is cancelled for any reason and they cannot transport their student to school. Families should ensure they are signed up to receive direct notifications, either by email, or Tri-Board’s app. Delays and cancellations are also posted to Tri-Board’s Twitter account.

Can students go on friends' buses?

No. Students will not be permitted on buses other than their own due to assigned seating and contact tracing protocols.

The Limestone District School Board is situated on traditional territories of the Anishinaabe & Haudenosaunee.