Return to School

Dear EH parents

By now, you will have received the update from Principal Fisher. As we prepare for the return to school on Jan 17th we would like to share some important updates.

We are preparing to open our school mid-pandemic surge, with a highly contagious variant. This is a new situation for all of us and we want to be open and honest with you about what to expect from the parent side of things, and how we can help and work together as a community to make this experience go as well as possible.

What to Expect

The reality is our school is operating from a significant staffing shortage. This shortage began before the Winter break. Every public school in the city and even the province is under the same staffing pressure. We can realistically expect that there will be more shortages as staff call in sick when they get COVID.

Some programming (library, some gym, music, resource) may be temporarily suspended as the prep period teachers are redeployed around the school. Keep in mind that this puts extra pressure on homeroom teachers and removes their prep time, so please be understanding!

Because of these expected shortages classes may no longer always be cohorted. You can expect that there may be times when your child’s class will be amalgamated with another class because there are not enough teachers.

How Parents Can Help

The best way you can help ensure that our school remains open is by self reporting if you or your student tests positive for Covid or has Covid symptoms. The government will no longer be tracking Covid cases at schools BUT Dan will be tracking our school and providing updates to classes if there is a positive case in a class.

The new COVID screening document is confusing and stuffed with information about isolation practices for the whole family – please make sure you spend some time reading it thoroughly. We are putting together an easy to read synopsis.

Another way you can help the school is by picking up your child and taking them home for lunch if this is possible for your family. Lunch time will be extended by 20 minutes – children will be spending 1 full hour outside. Please dress your children warmly – we are purchasing extra warm clothing like hats and mitts to have available at the school.

Please be flexible and understanding. The teachers and our administration are trying so hard to make our return to school possible. Because of the staffing shortages and the highly contagious nature of Omicron, it is important to be prepared to have your children home at some point. We know how much of a challenge this is for parents, in terms of their own commitments. Know that the administration is doing everything possible to keep our kids safe and in school.

If you choose to keep your kids at home for a few weeks at this time, teachers will be keeping google classroom updated with assignments so that students may work from home and TVO will have grade-appropriate programming. There will be no synchronous learning, however.

Note that the new masking guidance suggests either a double layer with a disposable 3-layer medical mask near the face and a well-fitting cloth mask on top, or an N95-type mask (KN95, CA-N95, KF N94 all come in child sizes). This is not required, but recommended by the Ontario Science Table.

Both Essex and Hawthorne have parent-run Facebook pages – you can join in order to receive quick updates. We will post relevant information on the facebook pages.

Essex: Essex/Hawthorne: Essex PS Parents

Hawthorne: Hawthorne II Bilingual Alternative Parents

Do you have an up-to-date police background check? Are you vaxxed and boosted? Want to help out? We could use your help for outdoor lunch time supervision. Please contact either parent council directly to inquire.

Dan will be available this weekend to answer your emails – if you have questions – please email him directly at

This is an unprecedented situation in our schools and the organization and planning is very complex. Every family will need to make their own choices about what is best for them. Let’s be kind and gentle with each other. We feel so lucky to have such a wonderful community.

Melissa, Lalu, Jackie and Tereza

Essex School Council Chair and Treasurer

Hawthorne School Council Co-chairs

Posted in Announcements, Intermediate (Grades 7-8), Junior (Grades 4-6), Kindergarten, Primary (Grades 1-3)