Happy March Break Lyonsgate Community,

We’re wishing you all fun times, restful times, and healthy times over the next two weeks. The first day of the spring term is Monday, March 28.

We have a few items for you this week as well as a larger than usual gallery of photos from the Primary campus.

COVID-19 Updates

As you all know, most COVID-19 restrictions in Ontario are being lifted as of March 21. This means there will be some changes when we return from March Break. While we know some details there may be other changes to come as Hamilton Public Health assesses the new guidelines. Here’s what we know so far:

  • International Travel: Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children 11 years of age and under are no longer required to stay home from school for 14 days if they travelled with fully vaccinated adults. Masking is still required upon return — from the Ministry of Education on March 9: “under current federal travel requirements, upon return from international travel, individuals must, wear a mask at all times when in public spaces (including schools and child care), maintain a list of all close contacts for your first 14 days in Canada, and monitor yourself for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.”
  • Isolation Requirements: If staff or students have a positive COVID test result or COVID symptoms, the isolation requirements currently in place remain the same. We have replaced the “Sick Child at Home/School” decision charts from Hamilton Public Health with updated guidance provided by the Ministry of Education this week. Please find “COVID Symptom Flow Chart” and “COVID Isolation Period Table” on the Home page under the Parents tab at lyonsgate.ca.

Those charts are taken from the updated guidance document released this week. We have also extracted the relevant pages from that document to create a reference guide for Lyonsgate families that covers masking after isolation, clearance from symptom isolation using rapid tests, household members, and close contacts (definitions of and requirements). Please click here to view the 8-page reference document.

  • Household Isolation Exemptions: There are new exemptions to isolation requirements for household members when there is a positive COVID test result or an individual with COVID symptoms. The following are not required to isolate, but are required to wear a mask in public settings for 10 days [NOTE: Children under 5 who are asymptomatic household contacts are required to stay home for 5 days.]:
    • Household members who are 18 years of age and older and have already received their booster dose are not required to self-isolate.
    • Household members who are under 18 years of age and are considered fully vaccinated are not required to self-isolate.
    • Household members who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days (based on positive rapid antigen test or molecular test results), are not required to self-isolate and can attend high-risk settings, as long as they are currently asymptomatic.
  • Masks: At present, according to provincial guidelines, masks will not be required for staff or students when we return from March Break. As you have probably seen in the news, this is causing some controversy which leaves us in a difficult position while we endeavour to do what is best for the students, and the community as a whole. While we understand and agree with the need to move on and start living, and schooling, in a more normal fashion, we would also like to take into consideration the concerns of health specialists regarding mask mandates being removed this early. Therefore, we will continue to implement the mask policy for at least two weeks following March Break, leaving mask requirements in place until at least April 8. This will give us time to re-visit the masking policy upon our return. We understand that any decision made in this regard will leave some families unhappy. We ask that you kindly respect the decision making of the school at this time, and are respectful of the feelings and opinions of those that may differ from your own. Ultimately, our goal is to have a happy, and healthy community.

Masking will remain a provincially mandated requirement when:

    • You return from international travel (see above).
    • You complete an isolation period: “If your isolation period is 5 days, from days 6 to 10 after developing symptoms …continue to wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings.”
  • Screening: Screening by staff and students will still be required each day. However, it will no longer need to be validated. The screening forms on the Home page at lyonsgate.ca have been replaced with a link to the provincial school screening tool. Please use this screening tool every day before arriving to school. You can also use the screening tool to find the most up to date requirements for different circumstances (symptoms, travel, close contact, etc.).
  • Cohorting: Cohorts will no longer be required. This means that students from the different Montessori environments can intermingle and work together. We will review how this change may impact the Primary (Casa & Toddler) campus and let you know of any changes we may implement after the March Break.
  • Rapid Tests: Each student at both the Primary and Elementary campuses has been provided a kit of two rapid tests. If you happen to need to use them over the  break, please click here for an instruction letter from the Ministry of Health. Rapid tests can still be used after the March Break to clear staff or students from symptomatic isolation (two negative rapid tests at least 24 hours apart and symptoms improving for 24 hours, or 48 hours for nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea).
  • Still in Effect: The following COVID mitigation measures will remain in place:
    • Ventilation: HEPA air filter units and open windows with fans.
    • Hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection.
    • Absence reporting: schools and child care are still required to report absence rates of 35% to Hamilton Public Health.

    Montessori Neuroscience

    An article was shared amongst the Montessori community this week describing the results of some recent research into learning and development: “The researchers were particularly interested in determining the long-term effects of Montessori versus traditional education.”

    Click here to read the article, which contains a link to the study, “Education shapes the structure of semantic memory and impacts creative thinking.”

    Children’s Vaccine Information from Health Canada

    Hamilton Public Health has shared more resources to share with families about COVID-19 vaccinations for children.

    Health Canada Ask the Expert videos: medical experts answer common questions about COVID-19 vaccines for children 5 to 11 years old. (These are short 1-2 minute videos).

    What are the benefits of vaccinating my child against COVID-19?

    How are children’s COVID-19 vaccines monitored for safety and side effects?

    My child is big for their age or turns 12 soon. Should they wait to receive the dose for ages 12 and up?

    Photos from the Past Week at Lyonsgate