Preparing for the 2020/2021 School Year

posted Sep 24, 2020, 10:14 AM by Michelle McGarry

Good Morning

As you are aware, there are many items that we are continuing to work on addressing as we prepare for the 2020/2021 school year. Understanding there is a lot for families to do, here is what we know so far and I will follow up next week with additional information. We appreciate your patience with this year’s unique start up and are having many conversations about what will work best for our school community.

What supplies will my child need if we have chosen in person learning?

Please note that children will not have access to cubbies. All bags will be kept in the student’s personal space. Please label everything to the extent possible.

Here are our suggestions:

  • Individual hand sanitizer bottles that can be independently refilled with our school supply if needed

  • 1 or 2 cloth or disposable masks (please wash frequently) for gr 4 and up (spare kept in a paper bag or envelope). We suggest looking into something that will keep the mask around their neck  safely when they aren’t wearing it (when they are eating and out on the yard) so that the mask will stay clean and they will always have it handy to put on as they finish recess and enter the building. A reminder that students in kinder to gr 3 will be encouraged but not required to wear a mask.

  • Healthy and nut free food: Students will need to be able to manage all containers. All garbage will be placed back in the lunch bag and sent home so that they will not need to walk to the garbage can or recycling bin. Water bottles will be able to be filled at hallway drinking fountains or in the classrooms.

  • If possible items to support individual calming methods at their spot  (colouring pencils and colouring pages, favourite books to read, knitting, pictures of their favourite places of pets to look at while deep breathing…)

  • Any individual items that they may want to use during  recess

  • Headphones 

  • A Touchscreen Chromebook that has a camera is suggested but definitely not a must. Please ensure it is fully charged daily as we don’t have many outlets in our classrooms and we need to limit students walking around. 

  • Students will not require a change of shoes. This will be revisited in the winter months.

  • Appropriate clothing for the weather as we plan to have many outdoor classrooms available during the fall. If your child is unable to independently zipper or button clothing please choose alternative clothing. This will be revisited in the winter months

  • We would also highly suggest that you purchase pens, pencils, erasers, markers/ pencil crayons, appropriate scissors and a glue stick for your child and have it organized in a pencil case. We do have supplies that we can give out but we did not purchase an amount last year to provide for each student. A pencil sharpener will be a necessity for every student.

  • Kinder students will be asked to provide a few more items (most likely a yoga mat) and this will be communicated shortly.

In the meantime please prepare your children for school in the following ways

- putting on, taking their mask off  and storing it safely (here is a video and another to help with mask wearing)

- wearing a mask for long periods of time

- proper handwashing as part of their daily routine (Advice from WHO)

- appropriate distancing strategies that work for your child

- being able to manage keeping their items organized in their backpack

- being able to manage their lunch and dressing  independently

- practicing individual calming or taking a break methods that can take place in their area

What if my child has a persistent runny nose or cough?

If your child has known seasonal allergies or a cough related to asthma or other known conditions, please send a medical note to the school (attention your classroom teacher) indicating these symptoms can be expected for the child during attendance at school. Without proper documentation, you may be asked to come and pick up your child and keep them at home until symptoms subside. More specific details will be shared with you regarding the new protocols for illness once we receive them from Ottawa Public Health however, I wanted to give families some time to get this letter prepared in advance of school beginning.

Does your child have an epi-pen, inhaler, need to take medication during the school day or have any other life threatening condition that the school needs to be aware of?

Here is the link to all forms necessary should your child have any of the following: Asthma, Concussion/ Head Injury, Diabetes, Epilepsy & Seizures, Life Threatening Allergies or any other Life Threatening  Condition. 

As this is the first year that parents have access to these forms, I have endeavoured to answer all of the questions here. If there is an area of the plan of care form that you require educator’s to fill in, please leave it blank, we will fill it in and send it back to you to initial that portion of the form.

  • Your child’s Ontario Education # can be found on any report card. 

  • Designated eating area inside the school building: All children will only eat in their classrooms

  • Location of auto injectors one should be worn on the student and one in the office

  • Safety measures are steps families do to ensure the child does not need the medication that can be replicated in a school setting

  • Individuals with whom this plan of care if to be shared: We would like you to indicate all educators who work with the student (teachers, EAs ECEs), principal, principal designate, OA, supply teachers

  • It is highly encouraged that students keep an inhaler located in the office in addition to the one in their bag

  • Any OSTA forms will be filled in by the school using the information you provide on the other forms. 

  • We will continue the practice of discussing the plan of care with the families of children with complex medical needs as we have done in past years.

Medication and the appropriate accompanying forms can be dropped off at the school beginning Monday August 24th up to the day before your child begins school. Inhalers and epipens can accompany the child to school on the first day if parents chose this option. Please remember to get your doctor to sign the Request and Concent to Administer Medication forms. All Plan of Care forms will need to be completed this year with Plan of Care Annual Review Sheet being started next year.

Any other assessments your child has received?

If you have any new assessments for your child (educational, occupational therapy, speech) please hand them in to your educator team who will then consult with our resource staff.

What are the drop off procedures?

Please note will not be screening students before they enter our building but instead will be relying on families to screen each child each morning to ensure that sick children do not enter our building. More specific guidelines will be coming from OPH before school begins.

When students arrive at school they will go directly inside by their designated door between 9:00 and 9:15. They will be required to use hand sanitizer and ensure their mask is on properly before entering the building. My email next week will clearly indicate the designated door.

Walkers/ Bikers: are asked to come onto our school yard as close as possible to their designated entrance door. For the first week, family members are welcome to walk their children to the designated door, support them with our new entrance protocol and say goodbye there. We will monitor the amount of people that will gather safely in these areas and may continue this procedure throughout the year as an incentive for families to park off of school property and walk their children to the school. 

Arriving by car: The Kiss N’ Ride will be operating each morning however, staff will no longer be able to help with unbuckling or putting on backpacks. We will happily open their door for students and ask that parents unbuckle students from inside their car. We have made some adjustments to our parking lot entrances and exits to improve traffic flow. These will be communicated next week. 

Busers: Students in grades 4 and up will be required to wear a mask while riding the bus. There will be assigned seats and siblings will have to sit together. For more important information please continue to check their website or sign up to receive their updates. Currently, I am unsure if all of our buses will be arriving at the school at the same time and departing at the same time. 

What are the pick up procedures?

We are in discussion concerning this. We may have to stagger the pick up times and the location for pick up in order to follow OPH guidelines. This may result in pick up times beginning at 3:30 for some students. Currently the Kiss N ’Ride will continue to be open at the end of the day. This will be revisited on a continual basis and may need to be closed if it is taking too long or proper physical distance can’t be maintained. Again , staff will only be able to open and close vehicle doors. Everyone is highly encouraged to develop a routine of parking on the nearby streets and walking to pick up their child at the designated spot.

Visitors, Volunteers and Parent Access: Currently visitors and volunteers  will not be permitted on school property unless you have an appointment approved by a staff member. Parent access for lates and early pick up will be addressed in an upcoming email.  If you are coming  into our school, you must self-screen prior to entry, and wear a mask. 

When will my child start school?

Grade Level

Start Date

Junior Kindergarten

Thursday, Sept 3rd & Friday, Sept 4th

We will contact each family through email to schedule a time to meet prior to each student starting. This will provide time for us to get to know you and your child better to help ease their transition. Please note their first day may not be for the full day.

Senior Kindergarten & Gr 1 - 3

Tuesday, Sept. 8th

Gr 4 - 6

Wednesday, Sept 9th

School Cash Online

School Cash Online is the method that we use for all payments at St Francis (i.e. Spirit wear). It is also a notification system to tell you when the deadline for purchasing items. You will need to register by  going to Please note that we do not have a student fee.                                                           

The OFFICE will open  Monday, August 24 @ 9:30 am.

Many thanks for your patience, flexibility and kind words during this unusual start up! If you have any questions/ suggestions please do not hesitate to contact me ( )or the school office ( )

Warm regards,

Michelle McGarry (Principal), Ms Kerry (OA)