Protective Strategies

The safety and wellbeing of our students and staff are paramount in our return to school protocol. Please see below for new procedures and enhanced health and safety precautions.

The Ministry may direct us to perform daily on-site confirmation of self-screening. If this is required, students, staff, and visitors will need to provide proof that they have self-screened.

Please note that any staff, student, or visitor that does not pass the screening procedures should not attend school.

Screening & Potential Outbreak

  • All students and staff must self-screen every day before attending school. Parents must perform a daily screening of their children here.
  • Staff and students feeling sick MUST remain at home while waiting for test results. If a symptomatic individual tests positive for COVID-19, they MUST remain in isolation at home and follow the directions of the TBDHU.
  • Any student or staff member who develops COVID-19 symptoms while in school should be immediately separated from others, in a separate room where possible, until they are able to go home. Isolated students should be supervised per usual school policy, with physical distancing maintained and PPE provided consistent with health guidance.
  • Students and Staff who test negative (after initial positive test) can return to school once they are symptom free for 24 hrs.

- View TBCDSB Outbreak Advisories -

As a reminder we need to remain diligent with our daily self-assessment, hand washing/sanitizing, mask wearing and physical distancing. Thank you to our amazing staff for creating and following new routines which incorporate all of our safety protocols. Thank you to our students who have adapted to these routines and have become great role models for others. Thank you to our Parents and Guardians, for being patient and understanding. We are grateful for your positive influence and work at home; illustrating safety etiquette and regard for others.

As a reminder, our Board follows the guidelines from the Thunder Bay District Health Unit regarding COVID-19 health protocols. Many parents/guardians have questions regarding what to do if your child has symptoms. Please visit the Health Unit website, here to learn more.

In the event of a positive COVID-19 case, we follow direct Ministry of Education guidelines and direction from Public Health. Please familiarize yourself and your family with the Operational Guidance Covid-19 Management document, here.

Please, take the time to read these important links in this message. Additionally please click here to learn more from Public Health Ontario regarding outbreak management within our schools.

Management of ill or symptomatic individuals in the school setting

This section applies to students, staff or other members or visitors to the school community, who become ill during the school day and on school premises. Please click here to learn more about protocols regarding symptomatic individuals.

Return to School

Individuals who have had a COVID-19covid 19 test because of symptoms but who test negative can return to school if they do not have a fever, if their symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours, or 48 hours for gastrointestinal (GI) (nausea/vomiting, diarrhea) symptoms, if they have not been directed to self-isolate and provided they have had no contact to a confirmed case of COVID-19covid 19. Click here to read more regarding return to school protocol.

  • Students in kindergarten are now required (Beginning January 3, 2022) to wear non-medical or cloth masks in indoor spaces, as well as on school vehicles.
  • Students in Kindergarten to 12 are required to wear properly fitted non-medical or cloth masks indoors in school, including in hallways and during classes, as well as on school vehicles.
  • Masks may be temporarily removed indoors for the following activities, with a minimum distance of two metres maintained between cohorts and as much distance as possible within a cohort to:
    • Engage in low-contact physical activities (see health and physical education insert link)
    • Consume food or drink (see cafeteria and lunch protocols insert link)
  • Students are not required to wear masks outdoors, but distancing should be encouraged between cohorts as much as possible.
  • Where necessary for faces to be seen for lip reading to support students with special needs, masks with clear sections may be appropriate.

Students are expected to bring their own masks to wear on student transportation and at school. Masks will also be made available by schools for students if needed. Please review TBCDSB policy on masking and masking exemption:

Additional masking resources:

As per Public Health guidelines, neck warmers/buffs/gaiters are not permitted to be worn as face masks, neither are face shields.

As per Public Health Canada ...

Neck gaiters (also known as neck warmers) aren't recommended because they:

Aren't well secured to the head or ears, and are likely to move or slip out of place
are difficult to remove without contaminating yourself
- Public Health Canada
A face shield is not a substitute for wearing a face mask as it does not filter respiratory droplets. A face shield may provide additional protection for the wearer against droplets expelled from another person, however these droplets may still be inhaled around the shield. Respiratory droplets expelled by the wearer may escape around the sides of the face shield, which therefore provides less protection to others. When wearing a face shield, it is recommended to also wear a properly fitted mask.
  • Thunder Bay Catholic has installed wall mounted hand sanitizer units in all classrooms and shared spaces.
  • There are also stand alone sanitizing units at entrances at each school.
  • Soap is also available at all handwashing areas within schools and sites.


  • PPE, including medical masks (surgical/procedural), eye protection and other PPE will be provided to all Board staff and bus drivers based on their specific role/job functions.
  • Medical masks (surgical/procedural) are required to be worn by school staff and visitors indoors in school, including in hallways and during classes. Staff are not required to wear medical masks outdoors. Staff must maintain at least two metres distance when consuming food/drinks.
  • Eye protection (e.g. face shield or goggles) are required for individuals working in close contact with children who are not wearing face protection (e.g. children in kindergarten, children with mask exemptions, children with special needs etc...,). Eye protection is not required for individuals working with children who wear face protection (e.g. children grade 1 and above). There may be situations where based on risk assessment an individual is deemed to be high risk by public health. Example if you are providing personal care (toileting, feeding etc.) or have the potential to be exposed to blood and or bodily fluids.
  • Where necessary for faces to be seen for lip reading to support students who are deaf or hard of hearing, masks with clear sections may be appropriate.

PPE in Schools and TBCDSB Sites

  • Masks and other PPE have been sourced by the Ontario government. The Ministry will work with school Boards to confirm demand and facilitate timely delivery and supply.
  • Students in Grades 1 -12 are required to wear non-medical cloth masks indoors in school. Outdoor times like recess, can be used as opportunities to provide students a break from wearing masks within their cohorts.
  • Students in Kindergarten will be encouraged, but not required to wear masks in indoor spaces.
  • On school buses, to the extent that physical distancing may not be possible, the use of non-medical masks for students in grades 1 -12 will be required. Students in Kindergarten will be encouraged, but not required on student transportation. Exceptions should be made for students with medical conditions or special needs that prevent masking.
  • Staff or students with sensory or breathing difficulties may be exempt by the school principal, guided by school Board policies.
  • Appropriate hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette are among the most important protective strategies. Students will be trained on appropriate hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, including the use of approved hand rub, and reinforce its use.
  • Hand hygiene should be conducted by anyone entering the school and incorporated into the daily schedule at regular intervals during the day including before eating food and after using the washroom. Soap and water are preferred as the most effective method of hand washing.
  • Age-appropriate posters and signage have been placed throughout the school. Supplies needed to conduct appropriate hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette are readily available. Approved hand rub will be available throughout the school at each entryway and classroom. Soap dispensers, sinks and paper towels will also be provided.

Public Health Ontario how to wash your hands (PDF) fact sheet

Approved COVID-19 Hand Sanitizers authorized by Health Canada

  • As much distancing as possible between students, between students and staff and between staff members is always promoted.
  • Schools have removed unnecessary furniture and placed desks with as much distance as possible. Desks should face forward rather than in circles or groupings when possible.
  • Student movement will continue to be staggered, if possible to limit student congregation in hallways. Congregation of staff members should also be limited.

High Touch Surfaces

Our focus is on regular hand hygiene to reduce the risk of infections related to high touch surfaces. Cleaning plus disinfection twice daily is suggested at a minimum. More frequent cleaning and disinfection may be necessary, depending on frequency of use and extent of soilage. This may include washrooms, eating areas, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, touch screens, push buttons, handrails, computers, photocopiers and sports equipment.

  • All Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board sites will have designated entry and exit doors to control the flow of traffic.
  • Physical distancing signs will be posted on our doors and throughout the sites.
  • Itinerant Teachers who move between schools/sites are required to complete the screening process, and sign-in/sign-out procedures at each site. These educators are also required to wash their hands between movement of classrooms/sites.
  • Staggered entry to the school will be used to allow less students into the hallways at a time.
  • Schools will significantly limit or even prohibit visitors, including parents. Any visitors to a school should be required to self-screen and to wear a mask while on school premises.

Click here to View Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board Signage

  • Wall mounted Hand Sanitizer Dispensers have been installed in each classroom for ease of use. Students will sanitize their hands upon entry and exit of each classroom.

  • Students will remain in the same consistent seat in the class as much as possible.

  • This area becomes their personal “bubble” and should be 2-metres from the nearest student, when possible.

  • Where possible, the same students should remain with the same teacher with minimized rotation.

  • Physical barriers such as unused desks, or visual markings, can be used to assist with the separation.
  • Desks and tables should not be removed from the classroom; however the same desk/table should be used by the student each day.

All of our schools have mechanical ventilation in all classrooms and portables. In addition, the highest-grade filters are used and are routinely changed.

Monthly inspections, maintenance and ventilation audits are completed by internal staff and certified engineering consultants.

Over the last school year, our board conducted duct cleaning throughout all of our schools. Our ventilation systems are programmed to run two hours prior to the start of the school day and two hours after. The ventilation systems are calibrated to allow for maximum air flow and increased fresh air intake.

An investment in a new heating system for St. Jude Elementary School (from electric to hydronic heat) will be completed by December 31, 2021.This new system includes upgrades to univent heaters, which will improve the quality of air and supply. Currently each classroom at St. Jude Elementary School has a stand alone HEPA filtration unit.

In addition, all Full-Day Kindergarten (FDK) classrooms will have a stand alone HEPA filtration unit as an additional health and safety measure. We recognize that Kindergrow students are not required to be masked and units will assist in keeping their classroom air filtered and clean.

  • Playground equipment is now OPEN! *hurray!*
  • Please practice hand-hygiene (wash or santize your hands)
  • Students need to stay within their cohort during recess and breaks outdoors and distancing should be encouraged between cohorts as much as possible.
  • Students are not required to wear masks outdoors, and distancing will be encouraged between cohorts as much as possible.
  • Shared materials outdoors, including use of the playground equipment are permitted, with appropriate hand hygiene.

Inclement weather plans and policies may include a pivot to remote learning.

Shared Materials

The use of shared materials is permitted. For example, toys, manipulatives, computers, tech materials, books, art supplies, indoor physical education equipment and shared outdoor equipment. The risk associated with transmission of shared objects is low. Focus should be placed on regular hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.

Shared Spaces

Shared homerooms, libraries and computer/technology labs are permitted. Use of lockers, cubbies, and mudrooms is permitted. When different cohorts interact in shared indoor spaces, masking and as much distance as possible will be maintained between cohorts.

  • Washrooms are marked off to ensure physical distancing of 2-metres when multiple students are in the washroom at the same time. Maximum occupancy signage has been posted with physical distancing being monitored.
  • Signage is placed inside the washroom, reminding students of both physical distancing and proper hygiene practices.
  • Washrooms are cleaned in the morning, throughout the school day and again each evening.
  • Wherever congestion/close contact/lineups may be expected, floor/wall markings may be placed to assist students in keeping 2-metre (6 feet) distances from one another.

  • Where required a plexiglass screen will be placed on desks where close communication is required and physical distancing is not possible.

  • Where practical, separation markers should be placed to signal one-way direction within the school. This will assist in maintaining 2-metre distances for everyone in the school.

Click here to View Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board Signage

Students may eat together:

  • Outdoors, without distancing
  • Indoors, with a minimum distance of two metres maintained between cohorts and as much distancing as possible within a cohort

Larger schools will employ various means to limit the number of students and cohorts eating lunch in proximity to each other (ex: staggered lunches, eating outdoors or in alternate spaces)

Use of cafeterias is permitted as follows:

  • Capacity limits for cafeterias will be established to maintain two metres distancing between cohorts, and as much distancing as possible within cohorts.
  • Secondary students are permitted to eat off-campus.
  • Each student is encouraged to bring their own drinking bottle that is kept with them and not shared.
  • Use of shared microwaves/kitchen space is permitted.
  • Students are encouraged to bring their own labelled water bottle to school each day.
  • Drinking directly from the fountain during COVID-19 will not be permitted.
  • We have installed new water bottle filling stations across our school sites.
  • In elementary and secondary health and physical education classes, the use of gymnasiums, change-rooms, weight rooms, indoor and outdoor equipment are permitted with distancing.
  • High contact activities are only permitted outdoors. Exceptions may apply indoors.
  • Low contact activities are permitted indoors. Masking is encouraged but not required indoors for low-contact physical activities if a minimum distance of two metres can be maintained between cohorts and as much distancing as possible maintained within a cohort.
  • Full play outdoors will be permitted for football, soccer, tennis and track and field.
  • Full play indoors will be permitted for basketball, volleyball, curling, wrestling and badminton.

Day trips and overnight stays are permitted and should follow the relevant provincial requirements under theReopening Ontario Act

  • Nutrition/third party food programs and non-instruction food events (such as pizza day) are permitted to operate, provided that food handlers use adequate food handling and safety practices.
  • Music programs, including daily lessons, choir, musicals, are permitted in areas with adequate ventilation.
  • Use of wind instruments is permitted indoors within a cohort if a minimum distance of two or more metres can be maintained. Use of wind instruments is permitted outdoors in mixed cohorts with distancing encouraged.
  • Singing is permitted indoors. Masking is encouraged but not required for singing indoors if a minimum distance of two metres can be maintained between cohorts and as much distancing as possible within a cohort.
  • Any visitors to a school are required to self-screen and wear a medical mask (surgical/procedural) while on school premises. A medical mask will be provided by the school if needed.
  • In addition to the requirement for visitors to perform daily self-screening, the school board must confirm the daily self-screening of all visitors upon their arrival at school.
  • Please note that at the advice of the local public health unit, school boards may be asked to restrict visitor access.

Routes will run as normal under the Conventional Model with enhanced protocols for health and safety.

  • Students in grades 1-12 will be required to wear masks.
  • Students in Kindergarten are encouraged to wear masks, but it is not required.
  • Added Disinfecting of buses (daily).
  • PPE will be provided to drivers.
  • Assigned seating will be required (Siblings to sit together where possible).

© Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board 2022