UPDATE: Lifting of COVID Restrictions
March 10, 2022
As we head into the March Break, we want to provide families with two important updates below with respect to the lifting of COVID restrictions in schools and board-funded tutoring opportunities for all families.
Lifting of COVID Restrictions – Masking, Cohorts and Daily Screening Confirmation
Based on direction from the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health (OCMOH), and in alignment with community measures, the province is returning schools to a more normal learning environment, while maintaining protective measures – like rapid tests, ventilation improvements, screening and continued access to free PPE for students and staff.
Effective March 21, 2022:
In alignment with community masking requirements, masks will no longer be required for students, staff and visitors in schools, school board offices and on student transportation.
We know that many students and staff may choose to continue to wear masks at times, or consistently for the remainder of the school year. Peterborough Medical Officer of Health Dr. Thomas Piggott continues to encourage the public, including students, staff and visitors to schools, to wear masks to protect themselves and those more vulnerable around them.
Our schools will remain mask-friendly environments which are safe and inclusive for everyone.
We ask all members of our school communities to respect the personal choices of others, whether a student, staff member or visitor feels comfortable attending school with or without a mask.
Schools will continue to provide free masks for students or staff who choose to wear them.
A reminder that under current federal travel requirements, upon return from international travel, individuals must wear a mask at all times when in public spaces (including schools and child care), maintain a list of all close contacts for your first 14 days in Canada, and monitor yourself for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
Lifting of Cohorting and Distancing
Cohorting and distancing will no longer be required in schools. 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 and music rooms can be fully utilized without distancing. Programs across grades, such as reading buddies, can return.
Limitations on in-person gatherings and assemblies will also be removed; therefore, schools can plan and host in-person events (e.g., proms, graduation ceremonies, and assemblies).
Note: cafeterias will be available for use in secondary schools, however, cafeteria service in secondary schools will remain unavailable for the remainder of the school year due to continued operating difficulties facing cafeteria vendors.
On-site Confirmation of Screening
Daily on-site confirmation of screening for all students and staff will no longer be required. Staff and students should continue to self-screen every day before attending school using the COVID-19 school and child care screening tool, which has been updated with new case and contact management guidance below.
Updated Case and Contact Management Guidance
The Ministry of Health has revised the COVID-19 Integrated Testing & Case, Contact and Outbreak Management Interim Guidance: Omicron Surge, with updated guidance for close contacts in the community and in households:
- Asymptomatic individuals who are close contacts of a case or a symptomatic individual in the community are no longer required to isolate but must self-monitor for 10 days following last exposure. During the self-monitoring period, close contacts must wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings and avoid activities where they need to take off their mask (for example, playing a wind instrument in music class or playing high-contact sports).
- Asymptomatic household contacts of a case or a symptomatic individual are also not required to isolate if they are 17 or younger and fully vaccinated; 18 and older and have already received their COVID-19 booster; or tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days and have completed their isolation period. Asymptomatic household contacts who are not required to isolate are also required to self-monitor for 10 days following last exposure and during the self-monitoring period, close contacts must wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings and avoid activities where they need to take off their mask (for example, playing a wind instrument in music class or playing high-contact sports). Children under 5 who are asymptomatic household contacts are required to isolate for 5 days.
Classroom-based COVID-19 Notifications
Schools will discontinue the practice of notifying families about positive Rapid Antigen Test or PCR test results that are disclosed to schools.
Rapid Antigen Tests
Schools will continue to provide Rapid Antigen Tests to symptomatic students and staff, and on an as needed basis to students and staff who return from an unplanned absence.
Remaining Health and Safety Measures in Schools for the 2021-22 School Year
- Schools will continue to promote and integrate appropriate hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette throughout the school day.
- Schools and school vehicles will continue with enhanced cleaning protocols in place.
- Students, staff, parents and guardians can learn more about our Board’s strategy to optimize air quality through improved ventilation and HEPA filtration in schools here: www.pvnccdsb.on.ca/school-ventilation-hvac-and-air-quality/