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Health and Safety

What health and safety measures are in place at school?

The TDSB takes its lead from the Ministry of Education and Toronto Public Health. We are still reviewing the preliminary guidance from the Ministry but some key measures already in place include:

  • All students, JK to Grade 12, wearing masks inside
  • All staff wearing medical masks, inside
  • Improving our ventilation systems to maximize fresh air
  • Focusing on proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
  • Student and Staff pre-screening prior to arrival
  • Ensuring signage that promotes physical distancing is in place

 

Will the TDSB go beyond the provincial guideline with their own guidelines to ensure our schools are safer?

TDSB has implemented several enhancements to the guidelines in such areas as HEPA filters in all classrooms and masks on all students JK to 12. We will continue to evaluate guidance and ensure that, where needed and in consultation with Toronto Public Health, appropriate protocols are in place to protect our students and staff.

 

When will the Toronto Public Health screening tool that staff and students use be updated?

Yes, the new screening tool, updated on September 1, is online. Learn more about your required daily self-assessment.

 

Vaccinations

 

Will TDSB schools continue hosting vaccination clinics?

Yes. In cases where we are able to ensure that student and staff safety will not be compromised during the school day, the TDSB will continue to help facilitate vaccination opportunities and clinics within our schools, together with local health partners as we have over recent months.

 

Can the TDSB mandate vaccinations for staff?

The TDSB is currently developing a Vaccination Procedure.

 

Do boards know if kids who are attending schools in-person are vaccinated?

No. As the Ministry of Education and Public Health Units have not made the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory prior to attending school, we do not have that medical information.

 

Will TPH and TDSB be releasing the vaccination rates per school (% staff and % students vaccinated)?

TPH provides vaccination rates for the population of Toronto. Student age youth (12-17 years of age) and other data is available on the TPH website.

 

Will there be vaccination clinics in schools? Will the school or government health departments be promoting COVID-19vaccinations at school? What efforts will be made to vaccinate children at the school? Will the rights of the unvaccinated children be respected and protected? What is the testing protocol and isolation protocols for students? Can students return without being tested (if they were ill)?

As we have been doing over recent months, the TDSB will continue to accommodate vaccination clinics in schools where it does not impact the health and safety of students or staff and does not impact the operation of the school. We continue to work with TPH and/or local health partners to promote vaccinations for students and staff.

We welcome all students, including those who are unvaccinated for COVID-19, into TDSB schools. All health and safety protocols will be followed.

TDSB is awaiting further guidance from the Ministry of Education and TPH on protocols for testing and isolation of students and staff.

 

Masks

 

Will the TDSB be mandating masks for all staff and students, including kindergarten students like last school year?

Yes, all students are required to wear non-medical or cloth masks/face coverings indoors while on school property, including in hallways and in classrooms. Masks may be temporarily removed indoors for the following activities, with a minimum distance of two metres maintained between cohorts and as much distancing as possible within a cohort to, engage in low-contact physical activity or consume food or drink.

Outdoor times like recess can be used as opportunities to provide students with breaks from wearing masks within their cohorts. While students may wear their own mask/face covering, non-medical masks will also be made available for students, if required. Reasonable exceptions will be made regarding the mask requirement (e.g. for medical reasons). Learn more about guidance from the Ministry of Education concerning student masks.

 

Will indoor, maskless sports/activities be part of gym class? What is meant by "low contact physical activity"?

The TDSB is currently developing guidelines on indoor physical activity to ensure students' health and safety.

 

Will different cohorts be allowed to use the same space at the same time, without masks, for physical activity?

The TDSB is currently developing guidelines on indoor physical activity to ensure students' health and safety.

 

What is (a) the level of community spread and (b) the vaccination rates that must be met in order for TPH to eliminate mask wearing within TDSB classrooms?

TDSB will follow guidance from TPH as it evolves or is changed.

 

How are masks regulated for children? How long is a mask effective? Are masks effective when wet?

All students are expected to wear masks in school following Ministry of Education and TPH guidelines.

Students supply their own masks so length and effectiveness is dependent on the type of masks parents provide to their children. Teachers will provide disposable masks if necessary.

 

How important is it for a mask to be/remain sterile? Are masks effective when dirty?

What is the risk of microbial self-contamination resulting from all-day masking mandates?

Parents should consult their local health care professional or Toronto Public Health for medical information around the use of masks. Visit TPH for guidance on mask use for students

 

Will the TDSB be mandating masks for all staff and students, including kindergarten students like last school year?

Yes, all students are required to wear non-medical or cloth masks/face coverings indoors while on school property, including in hallways and in classrooms. Outdoor times like recess can be used as opportunities to provide students with breaks from wearing masks within their cohorts. While students may wear their own mask/face covering, non-medical masks will also be made available for students, if required. Reasonable exceptions will be made regarding the mask requirement (e.g. for medical reasons). Learn more about our Mask Guidelines.

 

Will students and teachers be required to have a N95/KN95 or equivalent masks? Will these be provided to students and teachers by the board?

N95 respirators are only required during Aerosol Generating Medical Procedures (AGMPs).

 

Ventilation

 

Where can I find more information about the ventilation at my child’s school?

Every occupied classroom will have a stand-alone, institutional grade HEPA filter. Staff have conducted individual school assessments with the most current data available and ventilation information is available on our website.

Is there an updated list of ventilation systems of TDSB schools that have no mechanical or partial mechanical?

Yes. That list is available on the TDSB website.

 

Will the HEPA units be checked prior to school opening?

Staff will ensure that all HEPA units are functioning properly prior to school opening.

 

Has there been an indication of schedule for filter replacements for the classroom units?

The manufacturer recommends changing the filters every three years based on 24/7 use, in a typical indoor setting such as a classroom - however, we are monitoring this and will adjust the replacement schedule as required. We have already purchased some replacement filters to enable replacements as needed.

 

Has guidance been provided to schools on the best location in the classroom for these HEPA filters to be placed?

The location of the unit in each classroom may differ depending on the furniture set-up and use of the classroom, as well as location of electrical outlets. There is information available in the Operational Guidelines provided to Principals and caretaking staff regarding the recommended placement of the HEPA unit in a room. It is important that the unit be placed a minimum of 8” away from the wall, furniture or shelving but not too far into the room in order to avoid potential trip hazard withthe electrical cord or the unit itself. The unit is on wheels and can be easily moved within the room. The units are designed for 1500 sq. ft. space. Our typical classrooms are 750 sq. ft. Each unit draws air in through three-sides and as such, the unit does not need to be placed in a specific location to achieve two air exchanges per hour.

 

Are schools being supplied with supply fans and exhaust fans, or is it one or the other?

TDSB has grouped all schools into three categories, Passive Ventilation, Combination Ventilation and All Mechanical Ventilation. Under Passive Ventilation, air circulation is through the opening of windows and cross ventilation, supported in many cases with exhaust fans that help draw air out of the building. Combination Ventilation is where there are some spaces or sections of the building that have passive ventilation and other areas that have full mechanical ventilation, which includes supply and return air. The schools under All Mechanical have fresh air supplied through air handling equipment. These systems have both supply and return.

 

If mechanical ventilation is checked does it mean the whole school?

All the mechanical equipment in the school, that is related to ventilation has been verified by Board staff.

 

Will there be a mandate to keep windows (and doors where possible) open to increase natural ventilation?

For classrooms that have passive ventilation, opening the windows a few times during the day is recommended. This is in the Operational Guidelines provided to principals. For schools that have classrooms with mechanical ventilation, it is not necessary to open the windows during the day to increase the amount of fresh air in the space, however as some mechanical systems do not have air conditioning, depending on the orientation of the room and solar heat gain through the windows, it may be beneficial to open windows to provide cooler outdoor air.

 

Will there be a mandate to change filters in mechanical ventilation units with increased frequency?

The TDSB has increased the frequency of filter changes in mechanical equipment. The schedule is now standardized to filter changes every two months.

 

Will the Board be installing CO2 monitors to assess indoor air quality (IAQ)? If not, how will IAQ be monitored, by whom, and will the results for each school be made public?

School ventilation systems have already been optimized to deliver maximum amounts of fresh air throughout the school day and 2 hours before/after occupancy. As such, the use of additional CO2 sensors would have no effect on the current maximized ventilation rates.

The TDSB has developed an indoor air quality (IAQ) guideline that outlines how to investigate and resolve indoor air quality concerns. Should staff/parents have concerns about the air quality in a particular classroom/space they are encouraged to work directly with the school Principal, who will notify Facility Services to investigate the issue.

 

What about the schools that received HEPA filters last year but they couldn't be used because the electrical system was outdated. What’s been done to fix that in those schools?

There have been very few instances reported where the breaker tripped while using the HEPA units.Where this problem occurs the Board will assess the electrical loading in the room and may need to replace the breaker that serves the area or pull a new electrical line to accommodate the HEPA units. This work will be prioritized to be completed within 48 hours.

 

What alternative measures exist for schools that can’t run the HEPA units?

TDSB intends to have all HEPA units operational. Where there may be a temporary delay in the operation of a HEPA unit, occupants can rely on existing mechanical ventilation systems and operable windows. Staff will prioritize the replacement of any non-functioning HEPA units for occupied classrooms that do not have mechanical ventilation. The TDSB has a small supply of back-up units available for these types of situations.

 

What is the noise level of the HEPA units that the TDSB has procured? Have these units been tested in classrooms for noise level while teachers have been teaching a full classroom? Are there plans for voice amplifiers for teachers?

The HEPA units provided by the TDSB have been in place in classrooms since early 2020 and feedback that was provided by classroom staff at the time, indicates that the noise generated by the units is not disruptive to teaching. Noise level was one of the criteria used for the selection of these units. The HEPA units operate at a noise level 40, 55 & 65 Decibel at Minimum, Medium and High speeds. The Medium speed is the recommended setting for the classroom. Currently we are not aware of requests for voice amplifiers, as teachers move around the classroom to interact with students.

 

How large of an area does one unit work for?

The Austin HEPA unit has the capacity for a 1,500 square foot room. TDSB classrooms are typically 750 sq. ft. The unit does two room air exchanges per hour.TDSB will install the required number of units based on the size of the space.

 

Are there enough units currently to cover all teaching spaces?

The TDSB will have a HEPA unit in every occupied classroom, portable classroom and wellness room for the start of school. Additional units have been ordered for other non-mechanically ventilated spaces such as the gymnasium, library, instructional rooms and the school administration office. Placement of these additional units will begin by the mid August and continue into September, as required.

 

Do the HEPA units need to operate with the windows and doors closed? What about in areas where there are open classroom situations?

The units work effectively, whether the windows and doors are open or closed. Where there are open-plan classrooms, several units may be provided based on the combined square foot areas and the configuration of the shared spaces.

 

Are there specific levels that can be measured to ensure that the unit is working? How is this measured? Is there a schedule to check for this?

The units have three settings and are simple to operate. A classroom teacher or staff should contact the school principal if there are concerns regarding a unit. Caretaking staff can also assist to ensure the unit is plugged in properly and turned on. In addition, the Facility Team Leader will be verifying the HEPA units on their monthly review of the school.

 

What is the protocol if they are not working?

The Principal should notify the Head Caretaker or Facility Team Leader if there is a non-operational HEPA unit. A replacement unit will be provided as soon as possible from the Board’s back-up supply. In addition, as these units are under warranty, Board staff will follow up with the manufacturer to seek a replacement or repair.

 

Will portables be off-limits? If not, why?

The majority of portables have mechanical ventilation, which supplies fresh air, as well as operable windows. For the units that do not currently, the TDSB received funding in late February to install unit ventilators as well as to replace the older portables with new portables that include unit ventilators. This work is in progress. In addition, an institutional-grade HEPA unit will be provided for every occupied portable classroom.

 

Will gyms, libraries, etc. that are not officially occupied classrooms have HEPA filters?

Following the Ministry guidelines for the return to schools, if the gymnasium or library does not have mechanical ventilation, then it is recommended that HEPA units be provided in the space. TDSB has installed cooling centres in many gymnasiums and libraries. Cooling centres have mechanical ventilation.

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