School's About to Start!

posted Sep 24, 2020, 10:37 AM by Michelle McGarry

Sept 4th

Good Afternoon,

We are ready and so excited to welcome students into our building or “see” you virtually next week! It has been a long time and we miss you and hope everyone is well.  Apologies that this has taken me longer than expected to send all of this information to you. We have been working diligently to ensure we have a safe and smooth return for students and staff and I wanted to ensure this communication is comprehensive.  Please watch this important FRA  - Welcome Back Message that will also give you some new information on how our Kiss N’Ride will be running this year. 

Understanding that this year will look different, we wanted to ensure everyone continues to receive the most up-to-date information. Here are great links for your reference:

-Our  Return to School Plan,  Back to School Frequently Asked Questions  and our  School Year Calendar

-Ontario School Transportation Authority (OSTA)’s return to school transportation information

Ottawa Public Health routinely updates its website regarding school-related topics. You can find detailed information on everything from ventilation to screening practices to how to contain community spread. 

-Ottawa Public Health’s Responses to FAQ from Schools and School Boards.


Teaching Assignments, Student Schedules:

Today, or at some point this weekend, you will be receiving a “Welcoming Communication” directly from your child’s teacher whether they are attending school in-person or virtually. This is to help you get to know a bit about them and the new expectations, as well as to help your child have less anxiety coming back to school.

First Day of School:

Let’s all collectively pray that it will not rain on the morning of your child’s first day!  We have created this Welcome Back to St. Francis book that explains in student friendly language what school will look like when they return. We encourage you to read the book with your children as it may answer some of the questions they may have about their return to school this year. Our focus during the first week will be to build community, focus on following the new routines and hygiene lessons.

Tuesday, Sept 8th & Wed, Sept 9th all kinders and grade 1 - 3 will attend school: Educators will all be on the Primary Yard with class lists. Parents will drop off their child at the side gate  and they will walk to their teacher. Kinder parents can walk their child directly to the appropriate door.  There will be extra staff to help your child find their teacher. On the first day, staff will put a colour tag on each child’s backpack to help remind them which door to walk through each time they enter or exit the yard.  At 9:15 the classes will begin to walk into the school. The typical daily routine will be for the students to go directly to their designated door, sanitize their hands (staff will be there and we will have sanitizer), staff will check to ensure they have their mask on properly if they are wearing one and then they will walk directly to their classes. Teachers will be in their rooms each day to greet the students. 

Wednesday, September 9th - all students: Primary teachers will be out again and Junior teachers will be on the junior yard to welcome all students. Same procedures as Tuesday.

Previously I stated that families could accompany their children on the yard, but I have subsequently learned that is not allowed. Kinder and Primary aged children will need to be dropped off at the side gate and junior students on the junior yard. Beginning Thursday the Primary & Junior children will need to walk directly into their assigned door and to class between 9:00 and 9:15.  Beginning Monday, Sept 14th Kinder children will enter the yard through the side door.

New Daily Morning Routines for In-Person Learning:

1.In order to ensure the safety of everyone, we ask you to complete the OPH Screening Tool for Students daily and follow the resulting directions. You are responsible for screening your child. We will not be screening students before they enter our building but instead will be relying on families.  When in doubt, please keep your child at home. During the first week of school, educators will provide them and families with directions on how to access some of the learning from home. If your child is missing school but is well enough to do work, you will be able to access some of the classroom assignments virtually.

2. Please be sure to pack lunches that students can unpack themselves as there will not be any grade 6 lunch helpers for the grade 1 - 6 students. Kinder students will continue to have help from an educator but will still need to manage their lunches independently to help support social distancing. Remember that your children will be bringing home all of their lunch garbage and recycling. We apologize in advance for the mess but we don’t want students up and walking around the classroom.

3. If you have purchased a device for your child to use, this is fantastic because it will not be shared with other students! It will travel back and forth between school and home each day so please ensure that it is charged. During recesses, the doors to our classrooms will be locked so the device will be safe. Please ensure that your child returns their borrowed device and cord to school on the first day. If your child will be using one of our devices, they will be cleaned with Oxivir before being shared.

4. Please ensure your child has dressed appropriately for the weather. We will be spending increased time outside for physical activity and learning time. You will learn below about our staggered pick-up which will result in your children being outside everyday rain or shine. 

5. Please leave extra time to bring your child to school so you can park your car and walk onto school property. Here is your link to our St Francis Walk-A-Block Map.  Although the Kiss N’Ride will be open at the beginning of the day, we anticipate there will be a lot more cars since buses aren’t in operation until Sept 14th and most likely with decreased ridership. Currently, we do not have staff to monitor the crosswalk so PLEASE WATCH OUT FOR CHILDREN IN THIS AREA.  

6. Please pack at least two masks. One for indoors and one to wear as they transition onto and off of the yard. Please have a system in place so that your child knows where to place his/her mask while on the yard. If it gets dirty outside they will have their clean one inside. As for students in Kindergarten to grade 3, the OCSB strongly recommends that all students wear a mask both on the bus and in the school. Please see the latest update from Ottawa Public Health related to questions about face masks.

Late Drop-Offs: OPH has been very clear that we can’t allow anyone in the school but essential workers. When you come to the main entrance, Ms Kerry (our wonderful OA) will speak to you through the intercom. She will enter the information about the late in our attendance system and then buzz your child into the school. They will need to wait by the main office until they can be accompanied to class.

Early PIck-Ups: For appointments, please arrive at the school with have enough time for Ms. Kerry to buzz the classroom and your child to come to the main entrance. We do not have a large enough entrance to have children waiting for parents and be properly supervised to maintain appropriate social distancing. Keep in mind, there will be many times that your child will be on the yard and teachers won’t be able to escort them back to class to get their items thus it is crucial that you communicate in advance with the teacher the time that you would like to pick up your child up, as in past years. Each teacher will inform you of how to best communicate this information.

Meetings with Staff Including Myself: Due to OPH guidelines, we will need to have these meetings virtually through Google Meet or by phone. If you would like to meet with me, please email me directly at  

Keeping our Cohorts Small: Your child will remain with their class for the entire day including recess and lunch. French teachers will come into their class. Recess will take place on the yard with their teacher.  During snack and lunch times, there will be a teacher that supervises between three classes. At all times in the day (except dismissal) there will be no more than 3 classes at a time on the yard. Students will be expected to follow the markings on the yard to stay in a certain area and play with only members of their class. Bathroom trips will be recorded for the entire school so as to ensure we can have appropriate contact tracing completed should the need occur. Floor stickers will support students to physically distance. 

What if my child becomes sick at school?

A great suggestion from OPH is “Students should be made aware, in age-appropriate and non-stigmatizing language, how to identify symptoms of COVID-19 and should be instructed to speak to a staff member immediately if they feel ill.”  If students identify they are not feeling well or an educator notices they are not well, they will come to have a rest in our Health Room. An educator, wearing full PPE, will monitor them and I will call you to come and pick your child up. Thus, It is strongly recommended that guardians/parents develop a plan now for prompt pick-up at the school should the unfortunate happen. We have one health room and may need to place suspected ill students in the same room while awaiting parent’s arrival. We can provide a mask if they don’t have one and will ensure physical distancing.  A reminder that if your child has seasonal allergies to please get a letter from their doctor.

What are the pick up procedures?

 As a parent myself, I know these changes will affect the flow of your day but safety is our main concern. We really appreciate your flexibility.

  1. We will be staggering the end of day. Here is a chart to explain:

 Grade Pick Up Time PIck Up Location
 Kinders 3:15 - 3:25 KA & KB from the class door. Only adults of these students will be allowed on the yard.

KC at the side gate. They will wait in the gazebo.

 Gr 1 - 3 

3:25 - 3:40

 At the side gate. Please ensure you are physically distancing yourself. You can stand along the Kiss N’Ride. All adults are asked to ensure there is enough space for the child to exit the gate and walk to their parent.
 Gr 4-6 3:40 - 3:45 Same as above

Note: for Grade 5 or 6 students who have written permission to walk home by themselves, they will be dismissed from the junior yard at 3:45.

  1. Thus we can not use the Kiss N’Ride at the end of the day due to our staggered departure. We have closed the parking lot & Kiss N' Ride at the end of the day. The cars would not move fast enough and we would have a big line up of students waiting together. Thank you for  parking your car and walking onto our yard.  Remember our parking lot will be closed to ensure a safe departure of all students.

We are in this together! We will be called on to seek innovative solutions to challenges we never imagined a year ago. This is a time to “Be Community” in words and actions. We need your continued patience and support as we develop our new school policies and practices to ensure the safety and success for all of our students and staff. As we put these procedures in place we may have to make changes.  We have planned as much as we can and are ready to see our plan in action. Our students are very dear to us and, with your collaboration, we will have a wonderful school year!  One thing that has not changed and that will remain a constant is our focus on student well-being and learning.


Take care and stay safe.


Kind regards,

Michelle McGarry (Principal) & Ms. Kerry (OA)