KITCHNENER -- The new school year is right around the corner and parents and students are wondering what it will look like when they head back to the classroom.

From floor markings to sneeze guards, the Waterloo Catholic District School Board says it's taking extra precautions to help keep everyone safe.

Floor directions

The protocols start as soon as people walk through the doors. The WCDSB said people will only be allowed inside if they have permission.

"The furniture in the lobby has been turned around to avoid people camping out," said John Shewchuk with the WCDSB.


Saint John Paul II School opened its doors for a tour this week.

There are floor markers lining the halls so everyone can walk in the same direction.

"So they're not mixing and mingling and doing pirouettes, going in all sorts of configurations." Shewchuk said.

Water fountains are shut off and rec sports have been cancelled to start the school year.

Water fountains

Physical distancing is encouraged for physical education and recess.

The desks also have more space between them in the classroom.


"We've planned to the max, as much as we could possibly think of, we did," Shewchuk said.

The WCDSB wants students and staff to take an online self-assessment test every morning to ensure they're healthy.

There are sneeze guards installed in the main office for anyone who may fall ill during school hours.

"If that happened we would take them to the little isolation room we have set up," Shewchuk said.


The Waterloo Region District School Board said there will be hand sanitizer at all entrances, classrooms and in common areas.

The schools will also have directional lines for traffic in the hallways.

The WRDSB said it's considering staggering recess times and playground equipment isn't available. Gym classes will head outside whenever possible.

Classrooms will be spaced out as much as possible.

On Thursday, the school board released a video giving an inside look at the schools so parents and students will be prepared for a day-in-the-life once school starts up again in September.


Both school boards have mandated masks for all students when indoors.

Enforcement will focus on education, officials said.

"There's not going to be any heavy-handed discipline coming down if someone makes a mistake here and there," Shewchuk said.

"We will be approaching this with kindness and compassion," Alana Russell, chief communications officer with WRDSB said in an emailed statement. "We will want to ensure that students and staff have the opportunity to connect and work together to understand and follow new health and safety measures and routines."

Experts said hand hygiene, masks and physical distancing will help students and staff stay safe.

"I'm not concerned about children touching surfaces, I'm more concerned about children washing their hands," health policy expert Ahmad Firas Khalid said.

The WCDSB said it will look at what worked and what didn't after the first week of classes and will make any necessary changes to keep everyone safe.