Lyonsgate December Update

Hello Lyonsgate Families,

We have a few pieces of information for you as we head towards the winter break:

December Dates

The last day of school is Friday, Dec. 18. Students will attend for the full day.

The winter break runs from Monday, Dec. 21, to Friday, Jan. 1.

The first day back to school is Monday, January 4, 2021.

Montessori at Home Series

The Foundation for Montessori Education is hosting a series of webinars for parents throughout January:

Montessori at Home Webinar Series

Are you interested in bringing the Montessori philosophy into your home? Do you want the children in your life to feel empowered and capable in their home?

The "Montessori at Home" Webinar Series occurs over four Saturdays in January and is open to anyone with an interest in Montessori education.

Sandra Girlato, Lynn Woodward, and special guest, Meg Gunsar, will speak to the following topics:

  • Saturday, January 9: Introduction to Montessori in the Home
  • Saturday, January 16: The Importance of Independence
  • Saturday, January 23: The Relationship between Movement and Intelligence
  • Saturday, January 30: Family Communication: Speaking, Listening, Connecting

Each live webinar runs from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. EST.

A recording of each webinar will be provided for a limited time to those who have registered.

Cost: $40.00 CAD per webinar

If you are interested, please click here to register.

Shoebox Project Recipe Book

Thank you to everyone that has ordered recipe books in support of The Shoebox Project. You can still order until tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. Payment can be made by cash, or by cheque made out to "Lyonsgate Montessori School," and is due upon pick-up during the last week of the fall term (next week -- Dec. 14-18).

The recipe books will be $10.00 for a digital (pdf) version and $12.00 for a printed version.

Orders can be placed through Monday, December 7. Order your recipe book here.

If Lyonsgate families would also like to donate gift cards, cards from grocery stores, drug stores, and other accessible businesses (for example: No Frills, Food Basics, Walmart, Shoppers Drug Mart) where women can acquire necessity items are requested, in denominations no greater than $50.00. You can also donate directly to The Shoebox Project.

Return Attestation Reminder

A reminder that if your child is home due to illness, please submit a Return Attestation Form upon their return to school. This is a recent, new Public Health requirement, and the link to the form can be found on the Home page at Thank you.


Parent-Teacher Conferences in November

Happy November Spring Lyonsgate Families,

A short update for you this week as we head into November. There is a PD day on Friday, Nov. 13, and a PA day on Friday, Nov. 27.

  • On the Nov. 13, PD day Lyonsgate staff will spend the morning working with their cohort teams to refine and plan for the rest of the fall term; during the afternoon all Lyonsgate staff will continue anti-bias/anti-racism training through a workshop led by Ateeka Khan, the owner of Stoney Creek Montessori School and parent of an Elementary student at Lyonsgate. Ateeka has an academic background in Caribbean, Middle Eastern, and African history, and experience with anti-racism work in the community. This is traditionally the PD day we attend a large Montessori conference put on by the Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators and the Canadian Association of Montessori Teachers; unfortunately, that conference will not be taking place this year.


  • The Nov. 27 PA day is for our first set of Parent-Teacher conferences. There is no school that day, and all conferences will take place via Zoom.

Please click here to select a 20-minute conference timeslot with your child(ren)'s Montessori guide(s).

When you book you will receive a confirmation email from the scheduling service that contains instructions on how to join your conference. Please look for that email and retain it for reference on Parent-Teacher conference day.

These conferences will be the first chance to discuss how your child's school year is going. We know there is less information and imagery from the classrooms this year as we remain in our contained cohorts and stay on top of the COVID-required duties, and in-class observations are not possible, so we hope everyone is able to attend a conference. Look for photos from your child's class on Seesaw!

Enjoy the beautiful weekend weather before winter's inevitable arrival.

Lyonsgate Updates -- Boo! Oct. 30, 2020

Hello Lyonsgate Families,

The children are all very excited about Halloween, even if it may be a little different this year. However you are choosing to celebrate, or not, have fabulous family fun this weekend and we look forward to hearing all about sore candy tummies on Monday.

We have a few updates for you this week:

Return Attestation Form

Starting next week, when children are away from school due to illness, parents are required to complete a "Return Attestation" form. You can find it here, on the Home page at, and in the updated COVID-19 Supplemental Parent Handbook.

This is the same form used by the HWDSB and provided to us by Hamilton Public Health. It presents six different scenarios based on possibilities related to symptoms and testing and asks you to check the one that suits your child's illness, the course of action taken, and confirms that all criteria for return are met.

Updated COVID-19 Supplemental Parent Handbook

This supplemental handbook contains all of the information you need to negotiate the various COVID-19 protocols and procedures. We have updated the information on daily screening, test booking, the Return Attestation form, what to do depending your child's illness, and the two different sets of symptoms. All new information is in bold in the Table of Contents.

Find your COVID-19 Supplemental Parent Handbook here and on the Home page or under your Parents tab at

Lower Elementary Cohort Photos

The scheduled Elementary picture day was cancelled due to the inability to take photos outdoors. Unfortunately, we will not be able to reschedule an outdoor picture day this year.

But that's ok! On the cancelled picture day, the Upper cohort students took it upon themselves to take pictures of each other in their photo day finery. They will be continuing this project on Monday, Nov. 2, for students in the Lower cohort. Feel free to break out the good clothes and comb the hair one more time. We will have digital photo files for you, from a student perspective.

Candy Reminder

Lyonsgate strives to provide nutritious lunches and snacks and our Nutrition Policy asks that items like candy are not sent to school in lunches or as extra treats. Good nutrition throughout the day is optimal for developing brains, and candy is often a significant distraction and cause for emotional discontent among other children. Thank you.

Fall Back

The hour goes back this weekend. Enjoy the extra hour of sleep (especially after Halloween!) and we'll see you all on time on Monday morning.

At Home Learning Update, and new website additions

Hello Lyonsgate Families,

We have some updates from the Primary and Elementary campuses about updates to Lyonsgate's At Home Learning Support for times when children are required to be absent due to pandemic exclusion rules this year, and in case of a cohort or full school closure. We also have some new tools available for you at

Reminder: Picture Day for Casa and Toddler students is on Tuesday, October 20.

(Elementary Picture Day is Monday, October 26)

Home Learning Support Updates

From Sarah at Primary:

Experiencing our first wave of absences, paired with new directives from Public Health regarding symptoms and testing, it has become apparent that we need to make some slight alterations and clarifications regarding At Home Learning Support and what works best for the children and the classroom.

For clarification, students who are ill and are excluded by our screening process with symptoms that may require testing (not just a single symptom requiring 24 hours at home and monitoring for improvement) will be provided with support as listed below.

Toddler Students:

A Toddler binder has been created with a collection of various Practical Life activities that can be re-created at home, as well as parent education guides including ways to set up a Montessori environment. When a child is excluded due to illness for a prolonged period (as outlined above), a small collection of these write ups will be sent home with your child or available for pick up. Upon your child’s return, we ask that the folder be returned as well.

In the case of a cohort or school closure, the above will be provided for each child (with additional activities) as well as parent education videos, with live Zoom teacher Q&A, and scheduled child-focused groups via Zoom.

Casa Students:

Each Casa student has a binder with Montessori presentation write-ups applicable to their level. Upon a child being excluded due to illness for a prolonged period (as outlined above), a take home kit will be prepared for your child, which will be sent home with them, or available for pick up. The kit will include a duotang with a small collection of write-ups that your child currently enjoys working with, and/or is ready to be presented with. The write-ups will outline how your child is to work with the material, and direction on how you can show them to do so. There may be some paper materials included in the binder, as well as some physical materials that your child can manipulate. We request that these items, along with the duotang, are returned to the school upon your child’s return. (Please place a check mark beside anything your child has worked on.) *Please note there may be a short presentation video sent in lieu of a write up for an activity, available via Seesaw.

In the case of a cohort or school closure, the above will be provided for each child (with additional activities) and small group and individual Zoom sessions will also be scheduled with your child.

From Marissa and Michelle at Elementary:

Elementary Students:

Synchronous Learning (live online lessons with members of their cohort)

Students who are excluded from school in relation to the pandemic are able to meet with their teacher and/or classmates virtually each day via Zoom at 2:00 p.m.

Lower Elementary students can join synchronous learning when they are excluded for 3 or more days.

Upper Elementary students can join synchronous learning when they are excluded for 2 or more days.

Students should only participate in at-home learning when they are well enough to do so and are feeling comfortable joining their class online. Please take the time to get better.

Let us know each day, by email to or to, if your child would like to connect that day.

This will enable students to continue to participate in group discussions and proceed with lessons that can be delivered effectively online. A Zoom link for each of the Elementary cohorts will be made available to parents.

Asynchronous Learning (material-based and other work completed at home)

Students who are temporarily excluded from school in relation to the pandemic have Montessori-style materials kits available for home use. If your child is excluded, you may contact the Elementary campus to arrange pick-up of your child’s materials and personal work binder.

Tools for Parents

What to do when children are not feeling well continues to be confusing as regulations change. Hamilton Public Health has developed two decision charts that explain what to do depending on which symptoms, and how many, a sick child has.

You can find both decision charts on the Home page at and under your "Parents" tab on the school website:

Thanksgiving Update: New Screening, New Rules, and More...

Hello Lyonsgate Families, and Happy Thanksgiving.

We have a big update for you today with lots of new information about safety, screening, photo day, parent education, and flu shots.

As we head into this long weekend we want to thank you all for your commitment to keeping all of the Lyonsgate students, staff, and all of your and our families safe and healthy. Many of us have been affected by exclusions, testing backlogs, and other disruptions in the first month of school. It is difficult but necessary, especially as case numbers continue to climb.

Ontario saw the highest-yet single day number of new cases today -- 939.

Hamilton's medical officer of health, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, noted this week that:

"the spread is occurring among people who aren't following public health guidance. 'When we go through and talk to cases we do find that's the case and people who are infected,' Richardson explained. 'They've not used masks, they've not used physical distancing when they should.'"

We beg of you all to please follow the heightened restrictions in place throughout Ontario this long weekend. Thanksgiving will be different this year and your plans may have to change. It is only by individual commitment to doing the right things that we can produce the highest degree of safety for everyone.

A number of new restrictions have come into place over the last week or so:

  • Ontario residents are being asked to celebrate Thanksgiving dinner at home with members of their immediate household only.
  • Announced today, Friday, Oct. 9, residents of Ontario are being asked to stay home except for essential trips such as work, school, grocery shopping, etc.
  • Also announced today, travel to other regions of the province is to be restricted to essential purposes only.
  • Social circles/bubbles are currently on hold. Ontario residents are not to continue close contacts with their circle/bubble and are to restrict close contact to members of their immediate household only. From the province: "Due to the recent increase in cases and to ensure continued health and safety, you should limit close contact to people living in your household and maintain 2 metres physical distance from everyone else. If you live alone, you can consider having close contact with one other household."
  • Please continue to wear a mask when indoors in public places, or anywhere you cannot maintain a physical distance of two (2) metres, including outdoor spaces where physical distance cannot be maintained.
  • Wash your hands regularly and properly, and help children to wash hands properly. Soap and water is still the best hand hygiene.

New Screening Form and Process

Lyonsgate has chosen to begin using the new provincial screening tool for schools and child care centres. You will find the link to the new screening form on the Home page at It has replaced the separate forms for each campus. Both Primary and Elementary students, and staff, will use the same screening form. There are some new procedures that accompany the new form:

  • When you access the screening form click the "Start school screening" button.
  • Next, select that you are taking the screening as a "Parent/guardian on behalf of a student/child."
  • When you arrive at Lyonsgate with your child you will be asked to verbally confirm that you completed the screening process and passed, allowing your child to attend school that day. (Elementary parents, if your child(ren) walk to school by themselves, please send a confirmation email to before your children arrive).
  • Your confirmation responses will be recorded and made available to Hamilton Public Health Services as needed and/or required.
  • You must complete the screening process every day before your children can attend school; as always, the screening form must be completed after 5:00 a.m. each morning.

The new screening process does not screen for or require exclusion of asymptomatic siblings or other household members. Asymptomatic siblings may continue to attend school and will be monitored for symptoms. Please make safe, responsible decisions to protect the health and safety of the community.

To help you better understand the process if children are symptomatic, Hamilton Public Health has created two decision-making flow charts that explain what to do depending on the circumstances. Click below to view and download the decision-making charts:

* Symptomatic Child at Home Decision Guide

* Symptomatic Child at School or Child Care Decision Guide

Primary Photo Day

Photo day for Casa and Toddler students at the Primary campus will take place on Tuesday, October 20.

Primary Parent Education

Parent Education events for Casa and Toddler students are coming up:

  • Casa: Thursday, October 22, at 5:00 p.m.  Topic: Montessori 101 and Introduction to At Home Learning
  • Toddler: Friday, October 23 (PD Day), at 1:00 p.m.  Topic: Independence

Zoom Invitations will be sent by your child's Montessori guide.

Elementary Staggered Start and Pick-up Periods

To try and reduce congestion on the sidewalk and maintain appropriate physical distancing at pick-up we have instituted new pick-up periods that will begin on Tuesday, Oct. 13. Please click here to view the periods.

Please arrive only during your pick-up period and remember to exit as soon as possible, after checking out with Jason on the front porch. Each group of students will be dismissed when the previous group has cleared.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we try to create the safest environment for your children and families.

Flu Shots

Today, we received a request from Hamilton Public Health to participate in their flu shot campaign. Please click here to view the letter from Public Health.

From Public Health:

"It’s more important than ever to reduce the spread of flu and the 2020-2021 influenza season will present unique challenges given the on-going presence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Flu season often puts an extra burden on the healthcare system, so it is important that people do what they can to reduce their chances of getting the flu. Hospitals and healthcare facilities could become overwhelmed if they need to treat both flu and COVID-19 patients.

The flu shot is our best defense against the flu. This year we are hoping to provide the flu shot to as many people in our community as possible through a variety of locations and models designed to reduce potential exposure to COVID-19.
For more information about flu and flu shots please visit:

Thank you everyone. Have a safe but great Thanksgiving long weekend and we'll see you on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

Screening and Testing Update

Hello Lyonsgate Families,

There have been some changes to the screening and testing requirements. [Please Note: the changes reflected here are from the provincial government; Hamilton Public Health will also be providing guidance, which may result in further changes. We'll let you know].

These changes make things less arduous overall, but do make things a little more complicated. We've tried to break it down clearly below.

Screening Changes

There are now two categories of symptoms on the screening form: symptoms that may require testing and symptoms that may not require testing. Please be sure to read the new screening forms very carefully.

Other changes:

  • Pink eye (conjunctivitus) and abdominal pain have been removed as symptoms.
  • Some symptoms have been combined (for eg. fever and chills, and nausea, vomiting, diarrhea).
  • The question about contact with anyone with a respiratory illness has been removed and replaced with a question about directed isolation.

Testing and Exclusion Changes

If any of the symptoms in the group of symptoms that may require testing are present, things stay the same as what we are used to: contact Hamilton Public Health and your health care provider and follow their direction for testing referral.

From the group of symptoms that may not require testing:

  • If you answer "Yes" to ONLY ONE of these symptoms, the child is required to be excluded from school for 24 hours. If the symptom persists or worsens the child must remain absent from school and you are asked to contact your child’s health care provider for further advice or assessment, including if your child needs a COVID-19 test or other treatment. Siblings should also remain home for at least 24 hours and be monitored for symptom development. The child may return to school when the symptom is improving and they feel well enough to do so. A COVID-19 test is not required.
  • If you answer "Yes" to TWO OR MORE of these symptoms contact Hamilton Public Health and your health care provider and follow their direction for testing referral.

We will update the "Lyonsgate COVID-19 Exclusion of Sick Children/Staff Policy and Procedures" and the "Lyonsgate COVID19 Supplemental Parent Handbook" once we receive the final direction from Hamilton Public Health. Until then, please refer to this communication and the details on the screening forms. An FAQ from the Ontario Ministry of Health is included below.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. My child has woken up not feeling well, what do I do?

If you notice that your child has new or worsening symptoms, what you do depends on the symptom and how usual they are for your child. If your child has new or worsening:

• Fever/chills
• Cough
• Shortness of breath
• Decreased or loss of smell or taste

Your child should isolate immediately and you should contact your child’s health provider for further advice or assessment. The health care provider can help you determine whether the symptoms are related to another non-COVID-19 condition, or if they should get tested for COVID-19.

If your child has ONE new or worsening symptom (that is not related to a known cause or condition) that include:

• Sore throat
• Stuffy nose/runny nose
• Headache
• Nausea/vomiting/diarrhea
• Fatigue/lethargy/muscle aches/malaise

Your child should stay home for 24 hours to be monitored to see whether the symptoms get better or worse. If they start to feel better and symptoms are improving, they can return to school/child care when well enough to do so and no COVID-19 testing is needed. If the symptoms get worse, you should contact their health care provider for further advice or assessment. The health care provider can help you determine whether the symptoms are related to another non-COVID-19 condition, or if they should get tested for COVID-19.

If your child has TWO or MORE new or worsening symptoms (that are not related to a known cause or condition) that include:

• Sore throat
• Stuffy nose/runny nose
• Headache
• Nausea and/or vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Fatigue/lethargy/muscle aches or malaise

Your child should isolate immediately and you should contact your child’s health provider for further advice or assessment. The health care provider can help you determine whether the symptoms are related to another non-COVID-19 condition, or if they should get tested for COVID-19.

2. My child has a runny nose, what should I do?

If your child’s only symptom is a runny nose, you should keep your child home and monitor their symptoms as you would in any other year. When they feel better, they are ready to go back to school/child care and no COVID-19 testing is needed. If they get worse or develop other symptoms, you should contact their health care provider for more advice. Mild symptoms known to persist in young children (e.g., runny nose) may be ongoing at time of return to school/child care if other symptoms have been resolved.

3. Who in my family needs to be tested along with my child?

If your child has been identified as needing a test and everyone else in the family is well, no testing of other family members is needed. If your child tests positive for COVID-19, the
local public health unit will contact you/your child and make a plan for additional testing of all close contacts.

4. Do I need a note from a doctor before my child goes back to school/child care or a copy of a negative test result?

No, you do not need a note from your doctor or proof of a negative test before your child returns to school/ childcare.

5. I need more information to feel confident in my assessment, what do I do?

If you need additional information about COVID-19 or have a question specific to your child and their health, please contact your health care provider.

Lyonsgate Update Sept. 25, 2020

Hello Lyonsgate Families,

We have a brief update, a reminder, a request, and a virtual event for you this week.

There have been some questions about the exclusion of siblings when a student is excluded due to being symptomatic. The provincial Ministry of Education released a screening tool last week that is different from the screening forms we use at Lyonsgate; it does not question or exclude asymptomatic siblings. Lyonsgate will not be using this screening tool.

Having asymptomatic siblings of symptomatic students present in the cohorts increases the risk of transmission. As such, Lyonsgate will continue to use the same screening form and exclusion protocol at both the Primary and Elementary campuses.

We know you will understand and appreciate that this heightened degree of safety is the best course of action to maintain a safe school environment for all of your children and families.

New COVID Test Booking Website

A new website you can use to book COVID tests came online on Thursday, Sept. 24. Visit to book a test ( also redirects to the same website)

Remember, you can also call Public Health at 905-974-9848 option 2 for testing referral.

As you know, Public Health and the testing centres are overwhelmed. Wait times for tests are increasing, so patience is required. Public Health is asking that people please book an appointment and do not go to testing centres without an appointment.

No Asymptomatic Testing

Another change this week is that children (and everyone else in Ontario) that do not have symptoms are not eligible to have a COVID test. This change is to reduce the demand on the testing centres and labs. Only students with symptoms, and other symptomatic family members, can book a test. Asymptomatic siblings should be kept home and monitored for symptoms and can return once negative test results and 24 hours symptom free are achieved for the symptomatic child.

Reminder: PD Day Monday, Sept. 28

There is no school at either Lyonsgate campus this coming Monday, September 28. This is the second PD day early in the year, as is the case every year, as necessitated by Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The Primary campus is not available on those days, and this year these early PD days are very beneficial to helping us refine how this strange new approach to school is working. The next school closure days coming up are Monday, Oct. 12, for Thanksgiving, and another PD day on Oct. 23. Remember to check your Lyonsgate calendar regularly (you can find it under the "Parents" tab at

Request: Reusable Bags for Primary Please

We are asking parents of Primary students (Casa and Toddler) to please provide a reusable/washable bag to be used for children's soiled clothing. We are trying to minimize the use of plastic bags.

Thank you.

Telling Tales

The annual Telling Tales Festival is very popular with Lyonsgate families, and this year it is moving online:

Telling Tales Festival is a free children’s literature festival that takes place annually in Hamilton.  This year marks the 12th annual event and for the first time Telling Tales will be hosting a Virtual Festival, premiering on Facebook and YouTube.  The event began on September 20th and runs through to December 3rd, 2020.  The theme this year is “Stories Connect Us” and the line-up features over 80 presenters and 13 themed episodes with quality children’s programming from award-winning Canadian authors, illustrators, storytellers, and musicians.  The programming is suitable for children of all ages.
For more information and to view the festival schedule, please visit

Thank you everyone. Please follow all public health guidelines while enjoying the summery days this weekend so that we can continue to have a safe and healthy school year.

Back to School: Clarifications and Resources

Hello Lyonsgate Families,

Next week we all head back to school. We don't have any new information for you today, but we do have clarification on some policy questions, resources for you to use this school year, and a very important reminder.

First the very important reminder.

Each communication we have sent to you over the summer has included the following:

Please continue to follow all public health guidelines for the health and safety of your family, and the wider community, so that we can all participate in a full and safe 2020.2021 school year. Keep to your social circles/bubbles. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Maintain physical distance. Keeping community transmission rates low is essential.

We have also had requests from your fellow Lyonsgate parents this week for us to beg of you all, as we send our children back to school and into shared spaces, to please do what you know is the best and the right thing to do for everyone's health and safety. We have been asked to remind everyone and fully support the call to please follow all of the required practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Be diligent about sticking to your 10-person social circles/bubbles.
  • Limit unnecessary exposure by staying out of public spaces as much as possible (limiting grocery shopping to 1 trip per week, for example).
  • If you are in any inside space -- shopping, work, etc. -- wear a mask and wear it properly.
  • Maintain physical distance of two (2) metres wherever possible.
  • Wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer after contact with any possible contaminant.

Global pandemic viruses are definitely inconvenient and annoying. By doing the right and required things we can get through it more quickly.

As children return to school we must all commit to being more diligent to prevent community transmission rates from increasing.

We all need to do our individual parts to protect the health and safety of all of your children and your families.


A few points requiring clarification came out of yesterday's Casa orientation sessions, and we've had some emailed questions.

Our Casa staff want you to know that they wish the orientation sessions had gone better. They were trying to find a balance between being firm, upfront, and clear, and being calm, compassionate, and casual so as to not create undue anxiety. They feel the scales tipped too far to the latter side and they felt they may have come off as too "wishy-washy." As you know, some of the staff is new this year and were meeting you for the first time, online, and trying to create a reassuring bond while keeping in mind a lot of new information that we have all had to learn very quickly. Please accept their apologies and know that we had a thorough debrief afterwards to clarify any points of policy and protocol confusion.

Here is clarification on some points that have been raised:

  • Cohorts will only close if there is a confirmed positive COVID-19 test/case.
  • Cohorts will NOT close in cases when children are excluded for symptoms or failed screening.
  • Only the symptomatic child is required to be excluded, not the rest of the cohort.
  • The 14-day exclusion period is only required if you choose to NOT undergo a COVID-19 test for your child. In that case, your child can return within the 14-day period if you have a doctor's note verifying that the symptoms are not COVID-19 related. (There is also a minimum 14-day exclusion period in cases of a positive test, but at that point Public Health is in charge and their direction must be followed).
  • Masks: Elementary students (and Casa/Toddler students whose parents wish them to wear one) should have three (3) masks for use each day: one each for the morning and afternoon, and a spare. Clean masks should be kept in a paper bag and each child should also have a sealable plastic bag for used masks.
  • No names of symptomatic children or positive/confirmed COVID-19 cases will ever be published or shared by Lyonsgate Montessori School. Obviously, we are required to inform you if there are confirmed cases in the school community, but no personal information will be shared.
  • Once inside the school buildings, members of the cohorts, both students and staff, will not interact with each other.
  • Daily online screening forms must be completed after 5:00 A.M. each day and before you arrive at the school to drop off your children.
  • Casa Arrival Periods: there is no assigned group 1 or 2. The first 15 minutes of each half-hour arrival period are reserved for children of staff working in those cohorts and for children of families who fall under the category of "Eligible Worker." If you do not fall under one of those categories, please arrive for screening during the second 15-minute period. If you are late and miss your arrival period, please wait until the screening area is clear.

Resources for You

Please visit

Just below the scrolling images you will find a section on the Home page called "COVID-19 Information." That section contains links to:

  • The daily screening forms (there are separate forms for the Primary (Toddler and Casa) and Elementary campuses, and for staff.
  • The "Lyonsgate COVID-19 Advisory Page." This is where any confirmed case information will be posted (you will also be notified via email), but let's hope we never have to use that page.
  • The "COVID-19 Supplemental Parent Handbook." This contains all of the information you need related to COVID-19 at Lyonsgate. (Please wait for it to load).
  • You can also find the Advisory page and Supplemental handbook under the "Parents" tab.

Your Contact Info

There has been some movement in the cohorts as we get closer to the start of school, and we know that some of you may have new or different contact information than what was entered on registration forms. We will be working to get contact lists updated next week. Please email if you have any updated contact information.


Lyonsgate Staffing, Staggered Start, and Info Update

[This is the body of the August 28 “Lyonsgate Staffing, Staggered Start, and Info Update” email sent to all Lyonsgate families]

Hello Lyonsgate Families,

Today we have the 2020.2021 school year new staff update for you, all of the required COVID-19 policy documents, staggered start dates, and a few other notes.

New Staff

This week we want to tell you about the new, amazing staff that will be guiding and caring for your children, but before we do we want to say a warm, heartfelt goodbye to those that have left: Miss Dee, Mlle Nordaam, Miss Moffatt , Mlle Cottone, and Miss Boyle. We were blessed to have those wonderful women with us as long as we did. Some we knew were leaving at the end of the last school year, and the pandemic has definitely had an effect on everyone, giving us the time, and need, to rethink our lives and paths, and in some cases has opened up new opportunities. We wish all these ladies nothing but the best for their future endeavors!

We have been updating the staff on the individual classroom "Cohort and Schedule" documents that were shared with you on August 14. You can view the updated staff and cohort lists here:

[Please see you email for cohort lists]


Please welcome and get to know your new Lyonsgate staff members

Toddler Montessori Guide:

Ms Janelle Duhig

Ms Duhig is the Toddler Montessori Guide at Lyonsgate and was always told to one day work with children. As an adolescent, she was a camp counsellor and babysitter. Prior to becoming a Montessori teacher, she was a travel agent as well as an event planner, but her love for working with children always prevailed. After reading about the Montessori philosophy she knew that this was the career path for her.
Ms Duhig graduated from the Toronto Montessori Institute in 2013 and has had the privilege of teaching children from 15 months to 6 years of age.
Ms Duhig is also a certified prenatal yoga instructor and yoga birth coach, and enjoys going on walks, reading, and painting.

Toddler French Assistant:

Mme Allie Craigie

Mme Craigie is the French Assistant in the Lyonsgate Toddler programme, and previously worked at Lyonsgate before starting her family. Mme. Craigie has two children that attend Lyonsgate as Montessori students. Originally from Ottawa, Mme. Craigie studied early childhood education at Algonquin College.
Excited to come back to work after taking five years off to be with her children, Mme. Craigie loves to be outside in nature, and to both read and write.

Casa North Montessori Guide:

Ms Andrea Doherty

Ms Doherty is the Casa North Montessori Guide at Lyonsgate. She began her teaching career in the traditional school system but says, "I was very organically drawn to Montessori. After being suggested as a great fit for a Montessori position by a colleague, I was completely hooked! I have been blessed to see firsthand the confident, inquisitive, focused child that Montessori encourages. I believe it is the most authentic, genuine, wholesome form of education, and a wonderful gift to offer your child!"
Ms Doherty graduated from Brock University with an Honours Bachelor of Humanities for Drama in Education in 2011, and a Bachelor of Education in 2012. After years of experience working in an accredited Montessori school, Ms Doherty received her formal Montessori training, graduating from the AMI Teacher Training Program (Primary) in 2015. Her Montessori roles have led her to Toronto, to New York, and to Ireland. After years living abroad with her partner, Warren, and their puppy, Ziggy, Ms Doherty is grateful to be planting roots here in Hamilton with Lyonsgate Montessori. On a personal level, you can always find Andrea curled up with a great novel, baking anything & everything that pops up on Pinterest, or hiking the Hamilton trails with her family.

Casa South Montessori Guide:

Ms Nisrin Jasdanwala

Ms Jasdanwala is the Casa South Montessori Guide at Lyonsgate. She was born and brought up in Bombay (Mumbai), India, moved to Canada in the late 1990s, and has native fluency in English, Hindi, Marathi, and Gujarati.
Ms Jasdanwala's dream was to teach Casa children since she was 20 years old. That came to be in Toronto in 2002, when she received her Montessori AMI Diploma from the Foundation of Montessori Education. Her education qualifications also consist of a Masters Degree in Sociology from Bombay University, a Bachelor of Education from Charles Sturt University, and Certificates in Speech and Drama from Trinity College of London. Ms Jasdanwala has taught for 8 years in three countries: Canada, United States, and India. She also holds diplomas in Travel and Tourism and in Beauty and Hairdressing, and extends her knowledge to friends and family when they require it.
Ms Jasdanwala loves to indulge in adventurous sports, play board games, loves to travel the world, watch Broadway plays, and direct plays for children at the school. She also likes to read, enjoys Indian and Western music, loves to see Bollywood and Hollywood movies, and plays the Djembe.
Ms Jasdanwala is passionate about guiding your children’s academic, social, cognitive, and emotional development to enhance each child’s will and personality.

Support Staff:

To meet the requirements of the heightened health and safety requirements for this school year we have hired two new support staff:

Ms Ashley Lalonde

Ms Lalonde will be filling the new position of Float Staff that is required for the 2020.2021 school year to allow for the cohort scheduling, so all of the Casa and Toddler children will get to know Ms Lalonde. Born in Germany, Ms Lalonde moved to Canada when her father was posted to Pembroke, Ontario. She enjoys travelling and had the opportunity to visit her birth town in Germany in 2007.
Ms Lalonde has always had a passion for working with children. Before transitioning to Lyonsgate, Ms Lalonde held a position at a Montessori school in Paris, Ontario. Ms Lalonde will be completing her AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) 0-3 (Infant and Toddler) training, and looks forward to establishing relationships with the Lyonsgate children and families alike.

Ms Mandy La Rose

Ms La Rose is the on-call supply staff for the 2020.2021 school year. With the heightened health and safety protocols, including strict exclusion criteria, your children will likely be seeing a lot of Ms. La Rose.
Born and raised in Hamilton, Ms. La Rose comes from a large family and is the middle of three sisters. She has two daughters, married her high school sweetheart, and has three "fur babies" — 2 cats (Drake and Milo) and 1 husky (Kira).
Ms La Rose earned her diploma in early childhood education from Mohawk College in 2013, and has been the camp coordinator for summer camps for children ages 4 to 6.
Ms La Rose grew up camping every weekend and all summer, and now enjoys sharing her family traditions with her two girls, and also enjoys drawing.

You can view all of this information, including childhood photos, and the rest of the Lyonsgate staff on your Lyonsgate website at
[There are still a few photos to track down and some biographical info to come].

Classroom Contact Email Addresses

Contact email addresses for your children's classes are:

Toddler: Ms Janelle Duhig at
Casa North: Ms Andrea Doherty at
Casa South: Ms Nisrin Jasdanwala at
Lower Elementary: Michelle Achong
Upper Elementary: Marissa Achong

Required COVID-19 Policies

As you know, reopening schools and child care in the midst of an ongoing pandemic requires significant changes to day-to-day operations, and the provincial government and Hamilton Public Health have both been providing legislation and operational guidance directives to ensure a high degree of risk management and mitigation. Lyonsgate has been developing policy and procedure documents as required by the legislation and directives throughout the summer, as guidance has been released and updated. The legislation and guidance is informed by public health officials at all levels of government and has been responsive to changing conditions and research-based evidence. It has been a bit chaotic as we try to plan while awaiting information we know is yet to come, and there is still some we are expecting (the final Hamilton Public Health requirements for child care/Primary we're distributed last night and our policies have been updated accordingly), but overall, given the situation, we are confident that the time has been taken to develop guidance and directives that will be effective in keeping your children, your families, and our staff safe and healthy.

Please click here to access Lyonsgate's COVID-19 policy documents

[Note: there is a policy document titled "Lyonsgate COVID-19 Policy MinEd Submission" that is a single document containing most of the other individual policies; this is due to different submission requirements].

Mask and PPE Policy

We let you know last week that cloth masks will be required for all students at the Lyonsgate Elementary campus, and masks are strongly recommended for students in the Casa and Toddler classes, unless under the age of two. There are more details in the "Lyonsgate COVID-19 Mask and PPE Policy and Procedure" document found at the link above.

Staggered Starts

You have likely heard that Hamilton's two publicly funded school boards will be using a staggered start model for the first two weeks of school. At Lyonsgate, we have always used staggered starts in the Primary programs to make the transition to school easier for young children, and this year will be no different.

  • All returning Casa students and all Toddler students (unless by request) will start school on Tuesday, Sept. 8.
  • All students moving up from Toddler to Casa will have their first day of school on Thursday, Sept. 10.
  • All new Casa students will begin school on Monday, Sept. 14.

Look for specific start dates for Casa and Toddler students from your children's Montessori guides next week.

At the Elementary campus, because our student population is low relative to a traditional elementary school, and because of the cohorting model, all students will begin school on Tuesday, Sept. 8. You will receive specific drop-off time periods from your child's Elementary Montessori guide next week.

Lyonsgate Calendar

Remember to regularly check your Lyonsgate Calendar under the "Parents" tab at We are updating as new events and information, such as online orientation sessions, are added. You will also be hearing directly from your children's Montessori guides via email; keep an eye on your inbox.
Thank you everyone, we can't wait to begin in-person learning again.

As always, and of great importance as we all move towards a return to school, please continue to follow all public health guidelines for the health and safety of your family, and the wider community, so that we can all participate in a full and safe 2020.2021 school year. Keep to your social circles/bubbles. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Maintain physical distance. Keeping community transmission rates low is essential.

Remote Learning and Other Updates from Lyonsgate

[This is the body of the August 21 “Remote Learning and Other Updates from Lyonsgate” email sent to all Lyonsgate families]

Hello Again Lyonsgate Families,

If you still have not responded to the "Return Intention" survey, please do so as soon as possible. We hope that the information included today helps to inform your difficult decision-making. We know how hard it is. Please see the Hamilton Public Health resources below for more information that may assist in your decision-making.

This week, we have an update to the Elementary mask requirement, Hamilton Public Health resources for you, and the plans for what will likely be unavoidable periods of at-home, remote learning throughout this coming school year, as it presently stands. As you know, there are significantly more stringent "exclusion criteria" this year that will require children to spend more time at home than usual (see "COVID-19 Exclusion Criteria" for details). There is also the possibility of cohort/classroom closures, and of full shutdowns of either individual Lyonsgate campuses or of the entire school and child care system.

None of us want shutdowns of any form to occur, so please continue to follow all public health guidelines for the health and safety of your family, and the wider community, so that we can all participate in a full and safe 2020.2021 school year. Keeping community transmission rates low is essential.

For those of you with children also in the public or Catholic systems, or who have been following the reopening plans for those school systems, you will notice that we are using the same terminology to describe the various aspects: remote learning, synchronous learning, asynchronous learning, hybrid plan, etc. This is for consistency, but please note that Lyonsgate's plans are significantly different from what the public boards are being mandated to provide. We simply do not have the resources to provide what is required of public schools, and Montessori education is significantly different from traditional education, which is why you chose it for your children, so we have to do things differently.

Lyonsgate cannot provide an opt-out, online-only learning option such as what is being offered in the larger public systems. However, we do understand and appreciate that some families may be hesitant to send children to school until a more clear picture develops of the impact the return to school will have on case numbers and the extent of community transmission. If any Lyonsgate families do choose to wait at the beginning of the school year, your children will be welcomed to their cohorts at any time you feel comfortable sending them back to school. We will not institute specific return periods or dates.

However, as of September 1, a new piece of legislation comes into effect that will affect families in the Casa and Toddler programs: you will have until September 14 to accept your existing spot at Lyonsgate. If you choose to accept your spot but wait, fees will still apply but your spot will be reserved for you. If you choose not to accept your spot, after September 14 it can be offered to another family on our wait lists. We will apply this to our Elementary program as well. If you choose to wait, please let us know no later than September 14, but the earlier the better, if you can. Thank you for understanding.

Please also note that remote learning will only be available for illness-related and required absences. Remote learning is not available during scheduled, or additional family, vacations.

The sudden closure and transition to remote learning in March was chaotic and difficult for all of us. However, we learned a lot about providing Montessori education via remote learning, and you learned a lot about guiding your children's learning at home. Many of you also shared many, very valuable responses to our year-end survey about remote learning. Below you will find details about what will happen this year when students are required to be home for more frequent and possibly extended periods of time, and what will happen in cases of cohort or school closures.

We are using the phrase "extended absence" here to mean occasions when children must remain absent for the 14-day period when parents choose to not have a COVID test for children, and for other circumstances that may arise when a student is required to stay home beyond a regular illness and recovery period.

Primary Campus

Your feedback told us that large group gatherings online were not beneficial to Toddler and Casa students, that small group and one-to-one online time was most beneficial, that French needed to be delivered in a bilingual rather than immersive manner when offered online, and that guidance for parents to help children work with hands-on materials was required more than social, performative, or worksheet based activities.

We have changed how we will offer remote learning to Toddler and Casa children to address your needs, as follows:

Toddler Students

Toddlers required to stay home due exclusion or closure will each have a package documenting Montessori Practical Life activities they can perform at home. For extended absence or closure periods, parents will also receive pre-recorded Parent Education videos or written guides covering ways you can bring a Montessori Toddler environment to your home to allow your Montessori Toddler to continue your chosen path of development for them. In cases of closure, these will be supplemented by live Zoom Q&A sessions for parents with your child's Montessori guide and assistants.

Casa Students

Individual Presentation Binders: Your children's Montessori guides will maintain an individual binder for each student that will be continually updated with resources related to the Montessori materials and activities they are presently engaged with. When a student is required to be excluded due to illness or closure, the current material in this binder will be placed into each student's Individual Material Kit (see below).

Individual Material Kits: Lyonsgate staff is developing Montessori-style material kits that will be tailored to each student and that they can use in the case of a cohort closure or extended required absence. These individualized material kits are made up of printed versions of Montessori materials, accompanying instructions for presenting and using each material, and several extensions and DIY ideas for further in-home exploration of Montessori concepts. On occasion, your child will also receive concrete materials to take home (again, with instructions included). The primary purpose of the individual kits is to allow students to have hands-on materials ready, for the Montessori activities they are working with, to take home with them in cases where they must stay home for extended periods of time.

Presentation and Parent-Ed Videos: Lyonsgate staff are preparing short (as Montessori practice requires) pre-recorded videos of presentations of Montessori materials and activities, just like children would receive in class, that also double as educational videos for parents to learn the "how and why" of working with specific Montessori materials with their children at home.These videos will be shared in cases of cohort or school closure.

Small Group and Individual Zoom Sessions: Your feedback told us that the most valuable and engaging live video interactions for your children were the small group and individual interactions. In cases of extended absence or cohort closure, this is the model we will adopt to guide both children and parents in continuing the children's Montessori education while at home. To follow best Montessori practice, scheduling and grouping of children for these sessions will be determined at the time based on children's development and the Montessori materials and activities they are currently working with or are ready to move on to. The interactive Zoom meetings will revolve around presentations with the materials accessible via your child's material kit; this gives parents and children the chance to see the actual material in practice for a deeper understanding of its purpose and practice after the Zoom call has ended.

The material kits, pre-recorded presentation videos, and live videos will all address both regular curriculum areas and French language instruction.

Elementary Campus

Your feedback, our experience, and what we learned from your children has taught us that Elementary students also benefit most from small group online gatherings in targeted curriculum areas, one-to-one feedback and guidance, regular scheduling to emulate a school-day-at-home, a simplified digital environment, and access to hands-on materials.

Accordingly, we have changed how we will offer remote learning to Elementary students as follows:

Synchronous Learning (live online inclusion in classroom)

Students taking part in synchronous learning will join their classmates via Zoom to view and participate in key lessons at the same time as their peers that remain in attendance at school. A weekly schedule will be posted for families on a private web page, and will include

  • Key lessons that require viewing of the Montessori materials (math, for example)
  • Specific demonstrations (geography, for example)
  • Essential discussions (language, French, history, biology, etc.)
  • O.W.L. classes as scheduled

Asynchronous Learning (material-based and other work completed at home)

Students will have Montessori-style material kits they can use at home to continue their learning after lesson presentations (math materials such as bead bars, for example). Each Elementary student will also be provided with a binder containing subject area notebooks and a pencil case containing pencils, erasers, ruler, and other basic school supply needs that will stay with them in class for individual use at all times, and which will go home with them each day so that they have it in case they need to stay home (keep it in their backpack so it comes to school with them each day, and avoids possible environmental cross-contamination).

Cohort or Campus Closure

In the event of a single cohort or full Elementary campus closure, both cohorts will move to a 4-day schedule for regular Zoom lessons in all subjects.  Each student will have a morning and afternoon live period each day of the four days.  Printable PDF learning guides will be provided for topics where students and families may need additional resources following a lesson.

If an O.W.L. workshop is scheduled for students in Years 4 - 6, this will be held as an additional Friday session.

The schedule will be as follows:

Mondays and Wednesdays will be dedicated to instruction for Lower Elementary cohort students in small group and individual instruction in regular curriculum areas with their Montessori guide.

Tuesdays and Thursdays will be dedicated to instruction for Lower Elementary cohort students in small group and individual instruction in French.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays will be dedicated to instruction for Upper Elementary cohort students in small group and individual instruction in regular curriculum areas with their Montessori guide.

Mondays and Thursdays will be dedicated to instruction for Upper Elementary cohort students in small group and individual instruction in French.

Fridays will be non-instructional days for students to practice physical and artistic pursuits, and for teachers to prepare for the following week's online sessions.

Hybrid Plan

Much like the public system, we are also prepared for a situation in which a hybrid circumstance is required by legislation or public health direction. In such a case, we would use the whole Elementary building with the Lower Elementary cohort and the Upper Elementary cohort using the building on alternating days.

The hybrid plan is by no means anyone's preferred scenario and would only be used if circumstances dictated it must be so. (A hybrid plan has not been recommended for or directed to be developed for children of Primary-level age -- Casa and Toddler).

Elementary Mask Requirement Update

For the 2020.2021 school year Lyonsgate will be requiring cloth masks for all Elementary students. As you know, Montessori does not have grades and our cohorts have students who would be in a mix of equivalent grade levels. Also, we want to do what is best for the health and safety of all students, staff, and your families. This will be a compassionate requirement and children will be guided and assisted to wear, handle, and participate in mask use as a learning activity. More details to come.


Next week, we will be finalizing and submitting a variety of required COVID-related policy and procedure documents to both the Ministry of Education and Hamilton Public Health, provided we have received the legislation and related guidance documents telling us what those policies must include (have we mentioned this before?...). Once completed, submitted, and approved we will make those documents accessible to you. As we get closer to September we will also have a comprehensive staffing update for you; we have had some staff move on, new staff hired to take on those roles, have had to move other staff members around to meet new requirements, have had a staff member return from maternity leave, and hired for new roles necessary to meet heightened health and safety requirements. The week before school starts, we will be sending you videos and photos of what the school, and we, will look like. There will be screening stations, altered classroom spaces, new staff members, and staff in PPE. You will also start to hear directly from your children's Montessori guides.

If you still have not responded to the "Return Intention" survey, please do so as soon as possible. We hope that the information included today helps to inform your difficult decision-making. We know how hard it is. Please see the Hamilton Public Health resources below for more information  that may assist in your decision-making.

Public Health Resources

On Wednesday, Hamilton Public Health provided us with this list of resources to share with you regarding COVID-19 and children/youth.

Best Start·       Webinar recordings
Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS)·       How can we talk to kids about COVID-19?

·       COVID youth and substance use critical messages for youth and families

Caring for kids·       COVID-19 and your child
Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)·       Protect don't infect video for kids

·       Helping your children and teens during a pandemic

CHU Sainte-Justine·       Infographies à propos de la COVID-19
Government of Canada·       Handwashing video and colouring activities
Healthy Literacy Project·       COVID-19 fact sheets
Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies·       COVID resources
Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child & Youth Mental Health·       COVID-19 resources
Reaching In...Reaching Out·       Parent resources of service providers
The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)·       Video for kids about physical distancing

·       CEO and Dr. Cheddar answers COVID-19 questions from kids


Thank you everyone, for your patience, understanding, and considerate actions as we work our way towards what will be a strange, but memorable and productive 2020.2021 school year.