Screening, distancing, masking all featured as school boards release COVID-19 measures in back to school plan

WELLINGTON COUNTY – School boards in the county have released their back-to-school report for the 2021-22 school year detailing the boards’ updated COVID-19 measures as students and parents prepare for another return to classrooms in the pandemic.

With the Sept. 7 return-to-school date fast approaching, the Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) and Wellington Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) have released their respective return-to-school guidelines.

Much like last school year, COVID-19 safety protocols will include items like daily screening, physical distancing, masking indoors and regular handwashing and sanitizing.


As per the report released by both boards, all staff and students are required to complete daily self-screening before attending school.

The province will continue to provide a screening tool to be used by all school boards which can be accessed at

Staff and students experiencing COVID-19 symptoms as identified in the screening tool must not attend school and should follow the guidance provided.

Masking and PPE

Students across both UGDSB and WCDSB, kindergarten to Grade 12, will continue to be required to wear properly fitted non-medical or cloth masks while indoors, including in hallways, during classes and while on school transportation.

Masks may be temporarily removed indoors to consume food or drink, with a minimum distance of two metres maintained between cohorts and as much distancing as possible within a cohort.

UGDSB notes in its 2021-22 school operations report that masks may also be removed indoors when engaging in physical activities.

Both reports conclude that students are not required to wear masks outdoors, but distancing between individuals will be encouraged as much as possible.

Students are expected to bring their own masks to wear on school transportation and while at school. Masks will be made available by schools for students if needed.

Exemptions from wearing a mask under specific and limited situations will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis across the boards.

For information on the process for approval, parents are required to contact the school principal directly.

School staff will continue to be supplied with the required personal protective equipment (PPE), including medical masks, eye protection and other PPE based on their specific role and job functions.

WCDSB staff are not required to wear medical masks outdoors, according to the report.

Appropriate masks will be provided to staff needed to support students who are deaf or hard of hearing and rely on lip reading.

With the assistance of Ministry of Education investments, WCDSB noted in its report that it has installed touchless washroom fixtures in all schools, including approximately 560 touchless taps and 420 touchless flush valves on toilets and urinals, where possible.

The board will also be installing approximately 75 touchless bottle filling stations in all of its schools during the school year.


As noted in the UGDSB report, upgrades in the ventilation and filtration systems began in the 2020-21 school year and will continue for the 2021-22 school year.

The board will be assessing all school ventilation systems before the start of the school year to ensure they are in good working order.

For WCDSB, because the board has made investments to school HVAC systems in recent years, all ventilation systems are already compliant with the required school ventilation guidelines outlined by the Ministry of Education.

The systems are inspected regularly and receive regular maintenance to insure they are in good working order, the report added.


On Aug. 17, the Ontario government revealed a requirement for new vaccine policies for high-risk settings, including schools.

At minimum, policies will require individuals to: provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19, have a medical reason for not being vaccinated, or complete a vaccination “education session.”

Individuals who do not provide proof of full vaccination will be required to complete regular testing.

Status disclosure

In response to the provincial announcement and with direction from the Ministry of Education (MOE), the WCDSB return to school report notes all staff and regular volunteers will be required to disclose vaccination status, in addition to completing regular screening including rapid antigen testing for staff who are not fully vaccinated.

“We are currently planning for this new requirement and anticipate further specifics from the Ministry of Education,” director of education Mike Glazier wrote in an email statement.

“We have provided initial communication to all employees and will complete the collection of data next week in order to meet the required timelines set out in the program announcement.”

UGDSB did not mention any mandate on the recently required vaccination policy in its back to school report.

In an emailed statement, administrative officer Megan Sicoli said board staff are currently reviewing a document released by the MOE before they can provide more information.

Changes for 2021

However, new this year to the UGDSB’s back to school plan under the board’s management of COVID-19 in schools is a change in self-isolation requirements and testing for individuals who are fully vaccinated compared to those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

For a full list of COVID-19 health and safety protocols, and to review the 2021-22 school operations for UGDSB visit,

For WCDSB’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols and reopening guidelines, visit