School Re-opening Update

Posted On Friday July 31, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians, 

Yesterday afternoon, we learned of the Government of Ontario’s plan for the return to school in September. The plan outlined that Thames Valley District School Board elementary students will be returning full-time in-person and secondary students will return in an adapted model (combination of in-person and remote learning).  

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, during classes and while on school transportation. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be encouraged to wear masks in indoor spaces. Students can wear their own non-medical masks, and non-medical masks will be made available for students.  

There are still many details that we need to work through based on yesterday’s announcement from the Ministry of Education. We are providing you with the information that we know to be accurate at this time. We understand that families will have additional questions and we developed Frequently Asked Questions and answers that will continue to be updated. Information will continue to be posted on our website.  

More information:

Ministry of Education Guide to Re-opening Schools

Ministry of Education Technical Briefing

The Ministry of Education has a scheduled meeting with Thames Valley staff next week to discuss our board’s plan for the return to school. It is our goal after the meeting, to continue our work with our public health units to confirm details of our return to school plan and will share that information with you, as soon as possible. Your patience and understanding are appreciated. 

Elementary Schools (Kindergarten to Grade 8) 

Elementary school students will attend school in-person five (5) days per week, with students grouped together in one designated cohort for the full day, including recess and lunch. Enhanced health and safety protocols will be in place and the full elementary curriculum will be provided. 

Secondary Schools (Grades 9 to 12) 

Secondary schools will open with an adapted (cohort) model that combines in-person and remote learning. Students will be placed in groups of approximately 15 students, attending on an alternating schedule. Students with special education needs in our developmental education classes will attend full- time (five days per week).  

Specific details about our adapted model and cohort assignments will be provided once our plan has been reviewed and approved by the Ministry of Education. 

Details on Opting-Out of In-Person Learning 

As outlined by the Ministry of Education, in-person school attendance is optional for the 2020/21 school year.  Therefore, families are required 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 full remote learning and in-person learning on-demand, and families should anticipate specific dates to provide the Board advanced notice to re-enter school for face-to-face learning. Families should also anticipate the possibility to be waitlisted if they request a change from full remote online learning to in-person.  

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

It is important to understand that full remote learning will be far more structured than the end of the last school year. The expectation of students engaging in remote learning will be that they are online, engaged and present.  

Families will be receiving an email on Wednesday, August 5 asking if they will opt-out of in-person learning (for each child). If families do not opt-out by the deadline of Friday, August 14, it is assumed that their child(ren) will be attending school in-person on the first day of school Tuesday, September 8, 2020. 

New Student Registration 

For students who are not yet registered for school, registration is required by September 1. After September 1, you will need to book an appointment at your school to register. We are not able to take walk-in registrations this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. Parents/guardians should anticipate that late registrations may be enrolled in full remote learning.  

Bus Registration 

An online sign-up for bus transportation is required this year. Families who qualify for bus transportation have received notice from STS ( to register for transportation. This registration is required for each child in order to support planning for busing for the 2020-2021 school year. 

If you have recently changed your address and have children eligible for transportation, please send your contact information to and we will be in contact with you.  

Return to School Website 

We are in the process of launching our Return to School area on our website and have posted our FAQ where families can find updated information in the coming days and weeks.

Health and Safety 

We are developing a comprehensive return to school protocol based on the direction of the Government of Ontario and in consultation with public health units 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 case 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 public health recommendations. Please stay safe. 

Mark Fisher 

Director of Education