Return to School Update

Posted On Thursday July 30, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians,

This afternoon, we learned of the Government of Ontario’s plan for the return to school in September. In that plan, we learned today that the Durham District School Board (DDSB) will see a full return to school at the elementary level and a hybrid return for the secondary level.

The return to school will include enhanced health and safety protocols, based on the recommendations of public health officials. Students in Grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear non-medical or cloth masks indoors in school, including in hallways and during classes. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be encouraged to wear masks in indoor spaces.

There are still several details that we are waiting to receive from the Ministry of Education that we will need to review. In this e-mail, we are providing you with the information that we know to be accurate. We understand that families will have additional questions and we have attached a Frequently Asked Questions document to this message.

The Ministry of Education has scheduled a meeting with DDSB staff next week to discuss planning for the return to school. It is our goal that after the meeting to continue our work with the Durham Region Health Department to confirm details within our return to school plan and will share that information with you.


Elementary Schools (Kindergarten to Grade 8)

Elementary school students will attend school 5 days per week, with students grouped together in a cohort for the full day, including recess and lunch. Enhanced health and safety protocols will be in place and the full range of elementary curriculum will be provided.

Specific details about bell times will be provided once we have more information about school busing.


Secondary Schools (Grades 9 to 12)

Secondary schools in Durham will open with a hybrid model that combines in-person and remote learning. Students will be placed in groups of approximately 15 students, attending on alternate schedules. The DDSB will be reviewing programming for students with a high level of special education needs who may require daily attendance and instruction at the secondary level.

Specific details about when students will attend in-person and bell times will be provided once we receive more information.


Details on Opting-Out of In-Person Learning

Families will be able to decide if their child(ren) will return to in-person learning at a school site or if they will be opting-out of in-person learning.

Direction from the Ministry of Education indicates that students may not necessarily be able to move between remote and in-person learning, and families should anticipate the possibility to be wait-listed if they change their minds.

Students engaging in remote learning may not participate with students and teachers from their own school. We may be required to create virtual classrooms where students across the district in similar grades are attached to a teacher who will deliver online instruction.

Families will be receiving an e-mail on Friday July 31 on how to opt-out their child(ren). If families do not opt-out by the deadline of Wednesday August 12, it is assumed that their child(ren) will be attending school in-person.


Bus Transportation Survey

An online sign-up for bus transportation will be required this year. Families who qualify for bus transportation will receive a separate e-mail next week with the survey link and more information. They will be required to complete the online sign-up for each of their children in order for them to ride the bus.


Return to School Website

We are in the process of launching a Return to School page and Frequently Asked Questions at that will provide updated information on a regular basis. This page will be launched in the coming days.


Health and Safety

The DDSB is developing a comprehensive return to school guide based on the direction of the Government of Ontario and in consultation with the Durham Region Health Department to help make our schools safe for everyone to return in September. Some of the steps that we will be taking include frequent handwashing protocols, COVID-19 protocols, enhanced cleaning and disinfection of schools, daily self-assessment requirements and other measures.

As we work towards the return to school in September, we will continue to prioritize the health, safety and well-being of students and staff. Thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we carefully plan for the return to school, working within government direction and the public health recommendations. Please continue to stay safe.




Norah Marsh

Acting Director of Education