OTTAWA -- There will be no large indoor assemblies and field trips at Ottawa's Catholic schools when students return to class next month.

Two weeks before students return to class for the start of the school year, the Ottawa Catholic School Board provided a back-to-school update to parents, outlining safety measures in schools, what the school day will look like and isolation policies.

(n.b. the board updated some of its guidelines on Monday, Aug. 30. See here for more details.)

The board says field trips, large group indoor assemblies and non-essential visitors won't be allowed in September. Only essential visitors can visit Catholic schools during the first month of the school year.

"We will also be limiting the mixing of cohorts wherever possible for the first month of the school year," said the board.

CLASSES

Elementary students will attend school five days a week with enhanced health and safety protocols. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 8 will remain cohorted during the same day.

Secondary students will attend school in-person every day, taking two classes a day in September. There will be five instructional hours per day.

Students attending St. Josephine virtual high school will follow the four-course per semester model for the entire school year.

MUSIC

The Ottawa Catholic School Board says while Ministry of Education guidelines state that both singing and the use of wind instruments may occur where students are physically distanced from each other, "most classrooms will not be large enough to separate students by two metres."

Regular singing of O Canada or other songs will not be allowed in most classrooms.

Singing and playing wind instruments outdoors or in large spaces where physical distancing can occur, such as secondary music classrooms, is permitted.

LUNCHES AND RECESS

Elementary students will eat their lunch with their cohort in their classroom, similar to last school year.

When it comes to recess, the board says it will use a "cautious approach" and minimize the mixing of cohorts for Kindergarten to Grade 6.

For high school students, the board says principals will "continue to arrange lunch routines based on the size of the school, scheduling availability and the ability to use different areas of the school for lunch." There may be multiple lunch hours to minimize the number of students gathering at any one time during the day.

SPORTS, HEALTH AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

The Ottawa Catholic School Board will allow the following sports:

  • Indoor sports such as basketball will be allowed for the start of the school year following public health guidelines;
  • Masking is encouraged for indoor sports where they can be worn safely based on the sport; and
  • Interscholastic sports will return this fall, pending public health directives.

ISOLATION

The Ottawa Catholic School Board says if your child is fully vaccinated and is exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID, they do not need to self-isolate as long as they do not have symptoms.

If your child is not vaccinated and is exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 and is considered a high-risk contact, they will be required to isolate for ten days as directed by Ottawa Public Health.