August 30th, 2021
Welcome to the 2021 – 2022 school year! We warmly welcome all of our new and returning Westvale Voyageurs. This year is a unique one in many ways. We will have Voyageurs learning in-person and those who will be learning through a distance model. Our students not with us in-person will still be with us in our hearts!
This is going to be a lengthy communication for in-person families, and I thank you in advance for reading it all as it contains valuable information about many things which will be different from past practice. Every decision that has been made is grounded in keeping everyone as safe as possible and in keeping with direction from the Ministry of Education, Public Health and the WRDSB.
When Does School Start?
The first day of school is Tuesday, September 7th. It will be a full day of school for all students at Westvale. Our day begins at 9:00 a.m. and ends at 3:20 p.m.
Daily Screening of Students by Families
It is imperative that all parents do a daily screening of their child(ren) each day before sending them to school. The screening tool can be found on the Westvale website at wsv.wrdsb.ca or the WRDSB website at wrdsb.ca. Parents must not send their sick child to school under any circumstances.
Who is my Child’s Teacher?
Families should be able to log into School Day over the Labour Day Weekend to see their child’s teacher. The information is not available any earlier as we are still registering new students and organizing our classes. For anyone who is unable to find out classroom assignments in advance, our staff will all be outside on the first two of days at the beginning of the day to welcome and direct students to their line-up locations.
Entrance and Dismissal Routines
To ensure physical distancing, we will be continue to follow dramatically different morning and end-of-day routines as we did last year. We encourage all parents who bring their children to school (or those students who arrive on their own) to arrive at school as close to the 9 a.m. bell as possible. Our creative playgrounds and gaga ball pit will be closed for the half hour preceding the start of the day and for the half hour following dismissal. When students arrive at school just before 9 a.m., they are to report to their line-up location and stand in line, maintaining 2 metres of distance between them and their classmates. There should be no free play occurring when students arrive on the property in the morning and when they are dismissed in the afternoon. Our entire staff will be outside on the first two days of school to help everyone get to the right spot. Entry into and exit out of the school will happen in a planned and purposeful way utilizing many different doors and on a schedule that staff will be implementing. All students and parents that are on school property for the beginning and end of the day are required to have their masks on. Students will have mask-free play time outside during the day with their classroom cohort, but due to the number of people on the yard at the beginning and end of the day, we would ask for everyone’s cooperation in wearing a mask. Dismissal of students will also occur in a staggered fashion and from the same line-up location used in the morning. We would ask that if you are dropping your child off or picking them up, that you minimize the number of people that come to do so (e.g., one parent comes instead of both). We want to keep the number of people on school property as low as possible. To maintain physical distancing at all times, we will be unable to have early admittance to the school if the weather is inclement (e.g., rain). Please ensure that your child arrives dressed for the weather and as close to bell time as possible.
Line Up Locations
A map of line-up spots indicating class locations by teacher last name can be found on our Westvale website by clicking here. Our line ups will all be on the tarmac area and will be marked with white spray paint. Please talk to any of our staff on the yard if you are having trouble locating your line-up location – we will be there to help you!
Parents in the School
No parents will be permitted in the school during school hours except under extenuating circumstances. We would ask that all families ensure that students arrive to school by 9 a.m. sharp and report to their staging area. If a child arrives to school late, they must be brought to the front entrance. Upon ringing the doorbell, our office staff will make note of the student arriving late, enter it into our attendance system electronically and “buzz” the student into the school. If the child needs to be escorted to class, this will be done by school staff. Parents of late students are not be permitted to enter the school. All communication with office staff will be through the doorbell intercom system or by phone/email. If your child has an appointment and is being picked up from school, the child will be brought to and exit through the front door and into the care of the parent waiting outside the door.
What to Send to School With Your Child
Please ensure that your child is sent to school with everything they need for the day (e.g. lunch, coat, water bottle, completed homework, etc). Please do not drop off forgotten items to students during the day.
Every effort must be made to minimize the items that travel with students back and forth from home to school. Please send your child with “the essentials” only (e.g., lunch bag, coat, labelled and filled water bottle, extra set of clothes for younger students). Students may bring a pencil case if they wish. This year, classroom materials will be allowed to be shared within cohorts. In addition, students are permitted to bring a ball or other play item to school to play with during outside time with their cohort. All water fountains in the school are closed for use and we will be using two bottle filling stations. It is very important that you send a filled water bottle (labelled with your child’s name) to school every day. It is imperative that your child has a healthy lunch with them in a labelled lunch bag every day.
We will not be providing student planners again this year. Each classroom teacher will establish a method of communication between school and home. If you wish your child to have an organizational tool, please consider the purchase of a planner for them (e.g., at Walmart, Staples)
We would ask that all students have indoor and outdoor shoes. Indoor shoes may remain at school. Please ensure that all shoes are labelled with your child’s name.
All students must wear a cloth mask (or medical mask if you wish) at all times in the school. Families are asked to ensure that their child has several clean masks each day as soiled or wet masks should be changed to a clean one during the day. Students are also permitted to bring their own hand sanitizer to the school for their personal use during the day, though we ask for your cooperation in NOT sending highly scented products (e.g., the ones from Bath and Body Works) as there are staff and students on site with severe scent sensitivities and allergies. Hand sanitizer will also be provided throughout the school and hand hygiene (i.e., washing with soap and water, using sanitizer) will be practiced frequently throughout the day.
Services provided by Lunch Lady or Panago Pizza will be “phased in” during the year, so all students will require lunches five days a week at this point. We will still be operating our Nutrition for Learning program within the school, though distribution of snacks to students will be overseen by a staff member instead of having students help themselves.
Volunteering at Westvale
We usually invite and welcome the support of our parent community at Westvale. However, due to the unique circumstances we find ourselves in this year, we are not able to permit any volunteers in the school at this point in time. Our understanding is that volunteers will be permitted later on and the WRDSB will be taking a “phased in approach.”
Parking Lot Reminders
Please do not use our parking lot to drop off and pick up students. This is particularly important from 8:45 – 9:00 a.m. and 3:15 – 3:30 p.m. when there are many student pedestrians on school property. Parking is available on side streets adjacent to the school to use for drop-off and pick-up purposes. Thank you for your partnership in keeping our students safe.
Meet the Staff Night
Unfortunately, because we are unable to host any large group events, we will not be having our regular Meet the Staff Night. All communication with staff must be via phone or email.
We are still awaiting information about whether we will be having a photo day this year. Further information will be communicated when more is known.
School Council meetings will continue to be held virtually this year. Our first meeting will be September 22nd from 6:30 – 8 p.m. Stay tuned to School Day for more information to come.
Students Who Are Sick or Become Sick During the Day
It is imperative that we have parental cooperation in keeping sick children at home. No child should be sent to school sick in any way. If a child becomes sick during the day, we will call parents and the child must be picked up immediately. The child will be kept in a safe location under supervision until they are picked up. A child may not return to school until the screening tool indicates that they may. We’d ask that all parents have a plan in place should a child develop an illness or COVID symptom during the school day and need to be picked up.
Communication with our Families
Communication with our families is of utmost importance to us at Westvale. We are proud of our efforts to try to reduce the amount of paper we use and we are pleased to continue to use School-Day and our Westvale website (wsv.wrdsb.ca) to communicate school announcements, reminders, and newsletter items. School-Day will also continue to be used for the collection of money if needed during the year.
Over 95% of our families are registered with School-Day and we’d like to increase this to as close to 100% as can get this year. Please go to school-day.com to register. Families already registered on School-Day do not need to register again as all 2021-2022 information (class, teacher) will automatically be updated. All new Westvale families will receive a personalized letter during the first week of school containing a “secure key match code” with which to register their child(ren) on School-Day. Families can also register their child by using the unique 9-digit Ontario Education Number found at the top of their child’s report card.
School “Start Up” Packages
School “start up” packages will be sent home during the first week of school. Your child’s start up package contains some important paperwork which must be completed, signed and returned to the school. We’d ask for your cooperation in returning items as promptly as possible. More important start up information is accessible online through the “School Year Information” button on our Westvale website at wsv.wrdsb.ca. Most communication during the year will be sent to you electronically via School-Day. Interested families can also access information about purchasing student insurance packages in School Year Information on our website.
Westvale is a Peanut-Free and Scent-Free School
To ensure the safety of all of our Voyageurs, we’d kindly ask for your cooperation in refraining from wearing strongly scented body sprays and perfumes in the school and ensuring that your child(ren)’s lunches and snacks are peanut/nut-free. In addition, all WRDSB schools also ask that parents refrain from sending peanut butter substitute products (e.g. Wow Butter) in lunch bags as it is very difficult to distinguish from real peanut butter. We really appreciate you working with us to keep our school environment as risk-free as possible for our anaphylactic students and staff.
We have a number new of staff on the Westvale team! We give a warm welcome to teachers Mme Kanoun and Ms. Hambleton. We welcome back Educational Assistant Miss Ecsedi. Also, welcome to our new Child and Youth Worker Mrs. Burt (congratulations to Mrs. Heier on her retirement). We are lucky to have these awesome folks joining our staff!
I am truly honoured to be Principal at Westvale Public School – may the 2021-2022 school year be a safe one and one that is also filled with much learning and adventure – whether you are with us in person or doing distance learning! We are all in this together!