September Ready: September is here!

There is a LOT of information coming your way ahead of this school year. If you need to check back about what’s been said before, you can find it on our UKnight FYI page. The latest posts are at the top of the page, followed by the older posts. 

If you haven’t yet received an email invitation to join Edsby (for new parents) or to connect to your new-to-HD child in Edsby (for some returning parents), please contact us at so we can get you connected.

Note for Parents of Grade 9 students: Due to an increase in our grade 9 class over the past couple of weeks, we are planning to create additional class sections for Integrated Arts and MegaBloc. Students should still look for the teacher on their schedule on the First Day (more on that below), and then those it affects will be given a new schedule with the revised teacher and room number. 

Finally, our Picture Day will be Monday, September 14. Stay tuned for more information next week.

The First Day(s)

First of all, verify which day to come!

  • Tuesday, September 8 – Last Names A-L
  • Wednesday, September 9 – Last Names M-Z
  • Thursday, September 10 and following – Everybody

Arrival & Departure Times; Entrances and Exits

We ask that students not arrive before 8:30 am and leave by 3:30 pm at the latest. If your children must come earlier or leave later, please contact Cheryl Webb at for further information.

Students will be entering and exiting the school based on where their classes are; when they enter at 8:30 am, they need to go straight to their morning classroom. We’ll start outside the first day (see below), but keep an eye to Edsby tomorrow; we’ll put room assignments in the “School Talk” group.

Please remember that students must
wear masks in the school building.
If a student has a medical exemption,
we require a doctor’s note in advance
so we can work out alternate PPE
and/or distancing measures.
Thank you for your cooperation.

Welcome Tent

If you forget everything else we say here, remember this: the first week, there will be a staffed Welcome Tent by the front entrance of the school. (You might just see Mrs. Bloemendal and Mrs. Slootweg!) If you don’t know where to go, if there is anything you need, they will be happy to help.

Where to Start the First Day

Remote learners, we look forward to welcoming you virtually! Look for a communication tomorrow from Vice-Principal Sara Whetstone, who will let you know what your start will look like.

Beginning at 8:30 am, morning teachers will be outside ready to meet their students. They will all have signs so they are easy to find. Here’s where to look by grade:

  • Grade 9 Classes Soccer field: the end closest to the road
  • Grade 10 Classes Soccer field: the end closest to the school
  • Grade 11 Classes & Co-op students The field by The Grove (new addition): the side closest to the parking lot
  • Grade 12 Classes & Spare Field by The Grove (new addition) – the side closest to the road
  • New Students Grade 10-12 By the flagpole

Teachers can’t wait to welcome our students and connect (outside, distanced) in a way that will allow students to remove their masks if they feel comfortable to do so. They will spend a bit of time out there getting to know their classmates before staff run through some safety protocols, they all mask up, and go into their classrooms together.

We are going to start outside like this unless there are thunderstorms or torrential rain, so if it looks a little wet, please bring an umbrella or raincoat.


Getting to and from school is more challenging for some families this year. We have a family looking to share carpooling from Dundas (York Rd and Cameron Ave area). If you are interested in this, or looking to carpool in another area, please drop us a line at

Covid-19: Form Reminder, Protocols & Attendence

We look forward to seeing our students in person or online very soon! The health, safety and well-being of students and staff is our top priority as we reopen. To provide the safest possible experience for all in-person staff and students, every member of our school community needs to take proper precautions to prevent the transmission of Covid-19. For this reason, we require all families who will have one or more students learning in-person at HDCH to complete this form by their start date.

Click here to read & complete the form if you haven’t already.

In the form, we reference Ontario’s online Covid-19 symptom self-assessment tool, which is handy for the required daily self-assessment. Or print out this PDF of the self-assessment and put it where you’ll see it often, like on your fridge or next to your front door.

To read more about how HDCH is addressing the challenge of Covid-19 through our protocols, see our website.

Attendance & Illness

As is noted in our Covid-19 Return to School Commitment Form, there are stricter guidelines in place for when students and staff need to stay home. This is part of how we can protect each other and continue to carry out in-person learning.

Should your child fail the daily self-assessment, here is what you need to do:

  1. Keep the symptomatic child at home. (Public Health has told us that siblings, if symptom-free, may still come to school.)
  2. Email or call 905-648-6655 to report the absence.
  3. In your communication with us, please note what symptom(s) your child is experiencing. It is important for us to keep track of this information so we can be vigilant should a cluster of symptoms appear.

If your child exhibits symptoms at school, they will be isolated for the protection of their peers and staff members. We will call you or your child’s emergency contact to pick them up as soon as possible. We can’t send them home by public transportation or school bus if they are symptomatic.

Please note that while some symptoms will always require a student to stay home (e.g. a fever), there are some symptoms that may be a result of another previously-identified condition. For example, a student with a ragweed allergy may experience nasal congestion through September. If this congestion is consistent with what is normal — if the symptom is not new, unusual, or worsening — then the child may still be at school. If this is the case, please let us know at so we can inform their teachers.

If your child stays home due to Covid-like symptoms, you have three choices for how to proceed.

  1.  Arrange for a physician assessment; a doctor can decide if testing is not necessary and provide a note (i.e. symptoms are due to different causes). Your child may return to school 24 hours after symptoms resolve. OR
  2. Get tested; if the result is negative (and your child is NOT a close contact of a suspected/confirmed case) they can return 24 hours after symptoms resolve. If positive, they must be excluded for a full 14 days. OR
  3. Do not get tested; but then they must isolate and be excluded from in-person learning for a full 14 days.

If a member of our school community were to test positive for Covid-19, we would work closely with Public Health by providing attendance and contact tracing information, and we would be guided by them to determine next steps.

What about Food?

There are a few food-related details of which you should be aware. Some of our practices are different this year.

Allergy Aware
One thing that isn’t different: HDCH is an allergy aware school. Students may not bring in food or drink that contain or may contain peanuts or tree nuts. Thank you for helping protect members of our community with serious allergies.

Don’t Share
We ask that students not share food or drink with each other. Each student should eat what they have brought from home or bought from the cafeteria; hand hygiene before and after eating is encouraged. This is an important way we can help stop the spread of Covid-19.

We encourage students to bring a water bottle from home. They are permitted to keep it with them and drink as needed, so long as they only adjust their mask during the time they are actually drinking. Water fountains will be used to fill water bottles rather than for drinking.

Snacks & Relax
Students will have a few minutes to eat a snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Teachers will let them know when they are able to do this, since it necessitates that they take off their mask.

Images courtesy of Mrs. VanderVelde’s Food & Nutrition class, 2019-2020.

Students will eat lunch in their morning class or outside. Students with a morning spare may eat in the cafeteria. They have up to 15 minutes to eat lunch, masks off. Also, students are permitted to leave campus for lunch, provided they follow masking and distancing protocols as they travel and enter food establishments.

Students may stay in their morning classroom through the lunch hour if they prefer not to go outside; they will need to wear their masks for the remaining 45 minutes of the lunch hour.

Please note that shared microwaves and vending machines will NOT be available.

Knights Eatery
The Knights Eatery WILL be open at lunch hour only, for now, continuing to serve hearty and reasonably-priced meals.

Chef Nathan will have prepackaged lunches ready to sell. There will be a main course, pizza, salad, and drinks available each day!

The Eatery has been reorganized so that the only touch point is when a student is handed their food. There will be one socially-distanced line and one way through the Eatery. Students must wear masks until they get outside or go back to their classroom to eat.

At this time, we the Knights Eatery will accept debit or prepaid cards only. No cash, please. If you’d like a prepaid Knights Eatery card, please contact the office. We can send a card home with your child, and you can load it online by credit card.

Knights Eatery Menu Sept 8-11

Daily: Pizza slices, salad

Tuesday: BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Wednesday: Cheesesteak Sandwiches

Thursday: Mac n Cheese

Friday: Rib Sandwiches

September Ready – Getting Readier

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Below are reminders as well as new info to help you keep getting September Ready: we cover communication, the first day of school, arrival and departure times, and more — including a section just for new students! Please take a few minutes to read it over.

We continue to plan and to refine our protocols for what school will look like this year. The health, safety and well-being of students and staff is our top priority as we reopen. By Monday, you’ll receive a Covid-19 Return to School Commitment Form by email. We ask that you read the form over carefully and complete it before September 8. We want to be sure that we’re all clear on our mutual responsibilities and commitments as members of one school community.


Getting Connected

Starting September 8, the campus will be open to students and staff only, except in exceptional circumstances. At this time, we ask parents not to come into the school building during the school day so that we can limit exposure.

So how do you keep up with what’s going on around HDCH, and how do you get in touch? There are several ways!

  1. UKnight – This newsletter is going to be weekly this year. We’re changing up the content and working to focus it on what you need know. If you are getting this email, then you’ll get an email every time we publish a new UKnight. In the Covid-19 era, keeping an eye on UKnight will help you and your student stay safe and thrive in the HD family. 
  2. Edsby – New parents and parents of new students should have received an email invitation to join Edsby, our secure online learning management system. (There is more about Edsby here for new families.)
    This system is a great tool for communicating with teachers and finding out what’s going on at HDCH. If you haven’t received an invitation or have any issues getting connected, please contact Kris Slootweg at
  3. Email – You can always reach Kris Slootweg at If you aren’t sure who to ask, she’ll answer your question or connect you to the person who can. All staff email addresses are (e.g.,, etc.)
  4. Phone – While we’ve been working remotely, our voicemail is checked multiple times a day. Once we are back in the office full time, you can reach the main office at 905-648-6655.
  5. Virtually – Like last spring’s Membership Meeting, we hope to run some of our events virtually this year. As well, staff may meet with parents via Zoom if a nearly-in-person connection is needed.

We’re grateful for your partnership in your children’s education, and we look forward to connecting with you.

Important Dates

As we noted before, key dates for the school year (including remote learning days) are on our Google calendar. We’re working on our popular fridge magnet calendar and hope to have it for you soon!

Remote Learning
Thanks to those of you who have let us know your intention to pursue learning remotely for Quarter 1. If you’re still considering this option, please either fill in this form TODAY to let us know for sure, or contact Sara Whetstone with your questions at For those of you who have already chosen this option, our staff will be in touch soon! We look forward to staying connected with the remote members of our learning community.

Covid-19 Protocols

In order to provide the safest possible experience for all in-person staff and students, every member of our school community needs to take proper precautions to prevent the transmission of Covid-19. 

As you may be aware, it is possible for people not exhibiting symptoms to transmit the virus; for this reason, we cannot guarantee that Covid-19 will not be contracted at HDCH. But together, we will do everything in our power to limit the possibility for infection.

We are doing this through many means, including:

  • running quarters instead of semesters to limit the number of contacts
  • additional cleaning, including mid-day cleaning of high touch areas and washrooms; end of day anti-viral misting, and cleaning of desks and chairs between classes
  • encouraging proper hand hygiene practices by making hand sanitizer readily available throughout the school, and encouraging its habitual use
  • requiring that parents and/or students prescreen daily before coming to campus, and stay home (perhaps to learn remotely) if they exhibit any symptoms
  • sending home any students or staff who exhibit symptoms at school

Please note that all staff and students are required to wear non-medical masks while in the school building, other than for very short duration during lunchtime or when they are outside. If your child has a medical exemption from mask-wearing, we require a doctor’s note stating that. We want to ensure we can then put other measures in place to protect them and their peers and teachers.

We’ve posted some key elements of our Covid-19 protocols here on our website. One responsibility of which you particularly need to be aware is the required daily pre-screening. It is not possible for us to screen all students for Covid-19 symptoms when they arrive at school each day; we ask that your student, or you with your student, complete a screen each morning before coming to school. An online screening test can be found here and takes just a minute or two to complete. 

If your child fails the screening, then they are required to stay home that day. Please call or email the school to let us know, and if possible note what their symptoms are. Please note that if a student exhibits Covid-like symptoms at school, they will be isolated and a parent or emergency contact will have to come and pick them up. 

Arrival & Departure Times

Because we are working to limit student contacts, they are no longer able to hang out in public areas indoors at school.

For this reason, we ask that students not arrive at school before 8:30 am. At that time, they may be outside or they may enter through the doors closest to their morning class, and go directly to their classroom. Likewise, in the afternoon, students need to leave school by 3:30 pm at latest.
If for some reason your child must arrive earlier or leave later than that, please let us know at and we will make arrangements for where they can safely be, masked and distanced, in the school building.

What if someone in the school develops Covid-19?

We are in communication with Hamilton Public Health about our Covid-19 protocols and plan. Should someone in our school test positive for Covid-19, it is likely that Hamilton Public Health will know before we do. We will work together with them, providing contact information so they can test and trace, and cooperate if they wish to come to school to see our procedures first-hand.

There is no specific rule about what would happen next; Public Health will determine if other school community members might need to isolate or be tested, and they are the ones who would contact you if you might be affected. 

Here are some Covid-19 resources you may find useful:

How to self-isolate or self-monitor.


Especially for you, if you are new!

A grade 9 student arrives at HDCH on the first day of school last September. It’s going to look a bit different this year! 

Parents, Guardians and Students new to HDCH: We welcome you! 

There is a lot to think about when you start at a new school. 

The School Day runs from  9 a.m to 3:00 pm.

  • Morning class  9-11:30
  • Lunch 11:30-12:30
  • Afternoon class 12:30-3:00. 

There will be breaks during classes; we’ll be staggering those to minimize how many students are out of their classrooms at a given time.

Student timetables, information on how to connect to HD email and Edsby, and a school map are in the mail to new students.

Edsby ~ Learning Management Platform

Edsby is a good way to stay connected to what’s going on around HDCH. For students, it’s where you’ll find your classes — see who else is in your classes with you — and it’s one of the places your teachers will communicate with you. For parents, Edsby is where we track attendance and where learning reports will be posted, among other things. Here’s a link to a short video explaining how Edsby works for parents. And there’s an app!

New parents, please set up your Edsby account. You will have received an email with an invitation to join; if not, just contact and Kris Slootweg will be happy to assist you. 

Transportation – Info is here. HDCH doesn’t run its own buses, other than a route from Burlington. We rely upon area grade schools (Jarvis, Brantford, CCS, Providence) bringing our students. If a grade school is unable to accommodate this year, options would be public transportation, parent drop off, or carpool.

Wardrobe information is here, and It covers clothing for regular classes. HD does not have a gym uniform. Students can bring their own clothes for basic gym class: running shoes, comfortable shorts and a t-shirt.

Staff Support

HDCH staff members are here to answer questions and to offer you support. Here’s who to contact about common questions or concerns.

Attendance, General Questions
Kris Slootweg, Director of First Impressions

Finances, Tuition, Tuition Assistance
Sherry Osinga, Director of Finance

Course selection, Academic pathways, Student wellness
James Apers, Director of Student Services

Learning support, Study skills
Aline Koiter, Learning Coordinator

Community, Student life, leadership, and wellness
Owen Webb, Dean of Students

School leadership
Duncan Todd, Principal

Student enrollment, Covid safety and protocols
Cheryl Webb, Director of Operations


September Ready: Information for Students

Here’s how HDCH is helping you get September Ready!

  • Timetables – You’ll be receiving your 2020-2021 class timetables in the next week or so. Returning students should be able to see their courses in Edsby next Tuesday. New students, we will send you a hard copy of your timetable and some other pertinent information by mail next week.
  • Student Services Support – If you have a question for Student Services regarding your timetable and possible changes, you can make an appointment. Staff will be available for 10-minute time slots on the following dates. Click HERE to book. 
    • Wednesday, August 26 between 10 am and 4 pm – Zoom calls
    • Thursday, August 27 between 4 and 7 pm – in person outdoors at HDCH, weather permitting
    • Friday, August 28 between 9 am and 12 pm – Zoom calls
  • Textbooks – Textbooks will be signed out for you and delivered to your respective class during the first week of school. If you still have a textbook at home from last year, we ask that you bring it on the first day of school and give it to your homeroom teacher. Notifications will be sent home to students who have overdue textbooks/library books.
  • Wardrobe Resale – We’re thankful that our amazing volunteers will be running an HDCH wardrobe resale outdoors on Thursday, August 27 from 4-7pm, or as long as supplies last. Here’s what you need to know:
    • Where – Outdoors at HDCH (Unless the weather is bad; we’ve reserved Tuesday, Sept 1 as a rain date, just in case.)
    • What – Gently-used HDCH wardrobe items
    • How – First come, first served; pay by debit or credit only. (Sorry, no cash at this time.)
    • Considerations
      • Please wear a mask to protect our volunteers and each other.
      • Unfortunately, trying on clothing items will not be possible. McCarthy’s size charts will be available, and you can always check sizes ahead of time on the McCarthy’s website.
      • Depending how busy it is, you may need to wait your turn in a distanced line. We’ll try to keep things moving as best we can.
    • If you have resale items, please bring them along; we’d love to have them for a future sale!
  • School SuppliesYour teachers will let you know any course-specific requirements for the classes you take Quarter 1. But everyone should bring:
    • Pens/pencils
    • Paper and binders or writing pad
    • Electronic device (see Survey Results & FAQs for more info)
    • 2 Non-medical face masks
      • Students need to bring a mask to be worn whenever they are in the school building, other than when they are eating. (Which will be allowed at designated times.) We encourage students to have an extra mask with them in case their mask gets damp or needs to be replaced part-way through the day. Please see more information about face coverings here.
      • A couple of helpful hints for mask-wearing:
        • Try out masks ahead of time and try to find one that is as comfortable as possible.
        • Practice wearing your mask ahead of time. Have a conversation wearing your mask; leave it on for an hour. It takes some getting used to!
    • A small container of hand sanitizer (We will have sanitizer available in each classroom and throughout the school, but it’s wise to have some, just in case, for personal use.) Please do not bring highly-scented sanitizers, such as Bath and Body Works.
  • Remote Learning – Students may choose to learn from home this semester. Here are some details about what to expect if remote learning is selected:
    • Classrooms will be equipped with webcams and mics so that students can participate in live-streamed lessons with their classmates. Remote learners will be able to ask questions in live time or via the teacher’s online learning platform (Edsby or Google Classroom). Each teacher will set up a system that works for their subject and needs.
    • Remote learners will be expected to track along with the class and to participate in all assignments and activities. They will have opportunities to engage with the whole class, to collaborate with small groups on remote documents and projects, as well as to work independently.
    • If you are choosing remote learning for your family, please fill out this form to let us know by Thursday, August 27 so we can prepare. If you have any questions, please contact Sara Whetstone at

Mark your calendar – The school year calendar looks a bit different this year. Breaks at Christmas and March are unchanged, but PD days have moved around a bit. You can view the calendar here. Also, please note that about every three weeks, all students will have a remote learning day without synchronous instruction. Those days are indicated on the calendar, as well.

If you haven’t read them yet, be sure to check out the Parent Message and the Survey Responses & FAQs!

Survey Results and FAQs

We’re grateful for the outpouring of love and support that many of you expressed for this school. It’s clear from your responses that our community holds many different perspectives on what is important and necessary. Here are the themes and questions that were most prevalent.

You asked for clarification about the following questions:

  • How will we create and promote community and fun in the context of social distance and cohorting?
    • Our school theme this year is CARE. Our desire is that each person who attends HD, whether in person or remotely, will feel cared for as a valued member of our community. Our teachers are focused on providing ways to stay connected and to make their classrooms places of belonging. It’s a big part of what makes HDCH such a good place to learn and grow. 
    • Our Student Council will continue to plan events that will build community and create fun while keeping safety first!
    • Larger gatherings will be virtual — like virtual assemblies live streamed into classrooms.
  • Will there be extracurricular activities?
    • At this time, we will not be running any in-person extracurricular activities because reducing the total number of student contacts is a key part of our Covid-19 plan. Some extracurriculars may continue in a remote way, on a case-by-case basis.
    • For this reason, late buses will not be running, at least for the first half of the school year.
  • What kind of device should my child bring to school?
    • We are encouraging students to bring a device that they can use for school work. Our IT staff recommend a device that can be used for accessing the internet and that allows for basic keyboard entry for assignments and work, such as a laptop or Chromebook. An iPod or cell phone would likely be quite limiting as a device for a longer period of time. Much web-based student work will continue to be accessible through Google Classroom and Edsby.
    • We will be increasing our WiFi capacity to support the increase of devices in the building. Our IT staff will be available, as always, to trouble-shoot connectivity to our network. 
  • How will we create high expectations and provide high support for adherence to safety protocols?
    • This is a team effort and will rely on strong cooperation between school and home. At home, students need to pre-screen for Covid symptoms daily. It will be critical that students and staff remain at home when experiencing any Covid-like symptoms, such as those described in this self-assessment. In such a situation, the option of temporary remote learning should enable students to keep up with their classes during periods of absence. Students who arrive at school exhibiting symptoms will be sent home.
    • As you can imagine, there are a lot of protocols we are putting in place for the safety of our students and staff: hand hygiene, distancing, mask-wearing, movement restrictions, etc.
    • We will be clearly communicating with students what the expectations are. As a staff, we will be modelling the new normal of how we are together. We will be clear that students must wear masks when they are in the school building, other than when they are eating. They will have opportunities for mask breaks outside during the lunch hour and, at times, during outdoor class breaks.
    • A staff working group is meeting to look at the systems and practices to support distancing and to manage the movement of people through the school to limit contacts. More information on these procedures will be following next week.
  • How does lunch work?
    • Students will eat lunch in their morning classroom. At this time, we are not able to provide access to microwaves as we are doing our best not to share resources. For some larger classes, some students may leave to eat in a location that allows for 2 meters of distance while masks are off.
    • After they eat lunch, students will be able to go outside for the duration of the lunch hour if they so choose. They may also choose to remain in their morning classroom.
    • The cafeteria will still be providing fresh-made lunches. These will be prepackaged and distributed in a touch-free way. Stay tuned for more information about this.
    • Please note that vending machines will not be in operation.
    • Students may leave campus at lunch hour should they choose to. We expect that they will adhere to distance and masking protocol where public guidelines require it.
  • Without lockers, what do kids do with their stuff?
    • We encourage students to limit, as much as possible, the amount of stuff they bring to school.
    • Having two classes at a time reduces the number of books and supplies needed.
    • If a class leaves for an outdoor break, we will ask teachers to lock the door to limit access by others.
    • Individual classroom teachers will create routines for where to store outdoor gear and personal belongings.

If you haven’t read them yet, be sure to check out the Parent Message and September Ready: Information for Students!

Parent Message – August 21

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Thank you so much for your engagement in last week’s parent survey. We appreciate that you took the time to give us feedback.

At present, we continue with our plan for full-time, in-person learning for students, as well as a fully remote learning for those families who choose that option. This in-person learning will be in regular-sized classes, ranging anywhere from 12 to 30 students. We will be requiring masks and working at as much distance as is possible in a given room.

We make these plans with the knowledge that, this year, internal and external conditions may require us to shift and reevaluate. If there is a second wave of Covid-19, we may all find ourselves learning remotely again. We will continue to follow the direction of Public Health and the Ministry of Education as we make these determinations.

This week, we’re going to let you know about the next steps in getting September Ready. As well, you’ll find an overview of the parent survey feedback and answers to some of the most common questions about the upcoming school year.

One more important note: we are going to have a staggered start.

This start will allow for a little more elbow room as students get used to the new routines for being in the building.

  • Students with last names from A to L will attend school on Tuesday, September 8. 
  • Students with last names from M to Z will attend school on Wednesday, September 9
  • All students will attend daily starting Thursday, September 10

We will continue to be in touch with you weekly, sharing updates and procedures as they develop. Next week, you’ll hear from us about class timetables.