August 28, 2020
To Students, Family, Teachers, and Staff:
It has been a difficult year and we hope that you and your family have remained healthy throughout these trying times. COVID-19 continues to significantly impact our lives and remains a continually shifting problem. Presently, we are still under emergency health measures in Ontario, though there has been some easing of restrictions. While there are 5 active cases within the Hastings Prince Edward County Public Health region, there have been no cases of community transmission since May. Each of the current cases are a result of travel outside of our region.
Going forward, we are pleased to notify everyone that Applewood Academy for Progressive Learning (AAPL) will be opening for classes on September 1, 2020. We have made every effort to minimize the risk of COVID-19 to our students and staff as we return. Fortunately, AAPL accepts a limited number of students with a 5:1 ratio of students to teachers, so there are no large class sizes that may lead to increased risk. We have established specific COVID-19 policies and procedures to reduce the risk of contracting SARS-COV-2, the underlying virus, within our classroom and residential settings.
Our approach to promoting a safe environment for our students, families and staff is supported by: (1) The Federal Public Health recommendations that have been implemented by our country (e.g., border closing, travel restrictions, quarantine periods); (2) The Provincial Public Health recommendations that have been implemented by our province (e.g., stages of opening, physical distancing, social circles, emergency orders); (3) The Hasting Prince Edward District Health Unit recommendations for our specific area (e.g., masks within indoor spaces); and (4) Our procedures for physical distancing, hand washing, the use of engineered controls, administrative planning and guidelines for use of protective equipment. Of course, our policies and procedures are “live,” that is, they are constantly being monitored and updated as new information becomes available.
Within Applewood, physical distancing is emphasized in the physical setup of the school environment, using signs, symbols and guidance from teachers and staff. Within the classrooms, students will be kept distanced from one another as much as possible through the placement of desks within classrooms. The use of face masks for staff and students will be required while in the classroom, unless there are specific reasons which disqualify someone from wearing a mask, i.e., students under the age of 9 years, students with psychological or health issues that prevent them from wearing a mask. Face masks will not be required while engaging in outdoor activities or during athletic periods.
Handwashing will be emphasized throughout the students’ day using signage and direct prompting from staff. We also have provided sanitary stations throughout the school where students can access hand sanitizer as needed. We are working to install touchless systems and improve ventilation wherever possible to reduce any potential exposure.
Prior to entry into the school, all staff and students will undergo a brief screening for COVID symptoms. Staff will self-screen and if exhibiting symptoms will not report to the school and will access sick days. Students expressing COVID symptoms will remain in their home environment, either within their boarding residence or, for day students, at home until either testing reveals they are safe to return or 14 days have passed. Students who are unable to attend because of symptoms will continue their academics and treatment through online learning and participation if they are able to do so.
We will use social circles/cohorts when possible to minimize contact between students. For example, those students sharing a residence will remain a social cohort and may share some classes such as life skills training and academic outings. Where possible, students will have a consistent teacher and staff to reduce contact across classrooms. We will encourage regular outdoor activities, weather permitting, to promote socialization and a break from wearing masks.
Secondary and elementary students will have separate entrances and will enter the school under the guidance of staff. Prior to entry, students will have their hands sanitized and ensure that they are properly masked. We ask students to minimize what items they bring to school daily to reduce potential fomites, items that can transfer the virus through touch – though there is little evidence to suggest significant transmission through these means.
Our cleaning staff will ensure that common areas, stair railings, doorknobs, bathrooms, etc. are wiped down with an antiviral/antibacterial agent and staff (Teachers, Educational Assistants and Therapists) will be responsible for attending the regular cleaning of their areas of supervision.
Our residential environments will continue to practice COVID safety, as they have over the summer session. Sanitizing stations are available in each residence and students are required to sanitize prior to entering the residence. Regular handwashing is stressed and there is hand lotion available to reduce skin chaffing. Activities outside the residence continue but are restricted to low risk areas such as parks, conservation areas, sports fields and other such low COVID risk activities. Individual activities are scrutinized to ensure they are conducted in a manner that accords with our COVID policies. All residences will maintain a cleaning schedule that emphasizes the reduction of fomites.
Students will be screened prior to departing for school and may be held back at the residence if there are concerns regarding their health. Students who present with symptoms will attend a suitable testing centre to determine their status. If they are determined to have the COVID virus, parents will be notified, and the student will be isolated from the other students within their residence. The student will remain in their room and have access to the yard outside. The student’s health status will be monitored, and medical interventions will be provided as required. Opportunities for physical activity and online learning will be presented as per the student’s status. The residence will be isolated from the school classrooms until their status is determined. The remaining students will be tested and if cleared, return to the school environment as soon as it is reasonable to do so.
Given the present government guidelines, any international student who can enter Canada, must self quarantine for 14 days prior to attending AAPL or residing in residence. Currently, the Canadian government is not processing student visas unless the student received an acceptance letter prior to March 18, 2020. We are hoping that this situation will change soon. Until then, those international students who wish to be involved in the program can contact our Clinical Director, Jeff Waplak, to review options.
Our primary goal is to follow the appropriate government and public health to provide our students with the safest environment possible in which to receive their education and treatment. More detailed information regarding our policies and procedures is available upon request. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation on these matters. Please, if you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact us for further information. We have tried to cover as many variables and scenarios as possible, but if you feel we’ve missed something, let us know.
These are tough times, but with everyone’s understanding, cooperation and compliance, we can minimize the risk of contagion and have a safe and productive academic year. For those of you returning on September 1, we’ll see you soon. For our international students, we are looking forward to your arrival and hope to see you in the near future. Take care,
Head of School
April 15, 2020
Good morning everyone!
I wanted to take the opportunity to acknowledge everyone’s efforts over the course of this pandemic period in maintaining one’s own health and the health of our students and clients throughout our programs. It has been a huge transition, but we have been well prepared (pandemic plans in place) and able to quickly adjust to new circumstances. Our commitment will be to continue to adjust, assessing what works and keep it and what doesn’t work we will leave it behind. In our essential service the base of success remains on forming positive relationships with listening, and empathy within interpersonal boundaries. We will continue to depend on facts to drive our best interest decisions for students, clients, and staff working through the crisis aspects of this pandemic and while moving towards learning and using evidence based practices in the coming months and beyond for all of our benefit.
In this time of physical distancing, distance learning, and remote management it is paramount that we maintain our key relationships with our supervisors for support and direction and our co-workers for companionship and guidance. If you are feeling disconnected in this period of separation, please reach out. Likewise, your supervisor will be encouraged to reach out to you on a regular basis. It is a different work environment when we don’t get as much visual feedback, times to chat in the halls, see each other in the parking lot to remain grounded in feeling like we know what is going on. Supervisors will do their best to provide facts on thinking and planning to reduce assumptions easily fueled by separation and reduce connectedness. We hear a lot … “just be kind” in our culture and that will be a continued goal for us. Kindness towards our students, clients, and coworkers who require our continued focus on health, education, clinical and medical matters.
Everyone will be hearing statements pertaining to having open short-term, focused goals in this time frame. We want to continue to prioritize outcomes, track individuals’ readiness to achieve and reinforce the successes. We want staff, students, and clients to have multiple points of contact in a week in an efficient individualized, or open manner to help everyone achieve to their potential.
Please share thoughts for improvements with your supervisor. We can evaluate all ideas, even if we will not be able to implement all suggestions. Strive to keep your schedules as consistent to your “regular” schedule as usual. Yes, that does mean get up, get dressed, and get ready for work even at home. Eat at regular times and pay attention to what you eat to avoid the talked about “COVID-19 quarantine 15”, no need to lose 15lbs post this being over if one does not have to. The daily goals for all of us should focus on being productive, being active, having fun, and continuing to connect with others in our life.
As a management group we know this phase of the pandemic will pass and what lays on the other side will look familiar to us with some slight additions and our new learning.
In periods like this our work gets acknowledged by government and by the community as an “essential service”. We know it was essential long before COVID-19 and will continue to be well past it.
Jeffrey J. Waplak, MA, RP
A Message from the Executive Director
Families, Students, Host Families, Clinicians and Staff,
March 30, 2020
The residential treatment portion of Applewood has been deemed an essential service. The clinical services being provided to the program are also deemed as essential services given the unique needs of the students within our program. This includes individual therapy, group therapy, clinical consultations,psychiatric management, and the parenting support group. As you are aware, for physical safety and to aid in reducing the infection curve we have shifted to ZOOM or teleconference interventions. In our mind the educational portion of the program is essential for our students and we have utilized the same Zoom and teleconference format to continue academic learning for our students wherever they are located at this time. Excellent coordination by staff has led to quick implementation this week and it is only the first week of not accessing the actual school setting following March Break.
We are taking precautions to manage the risk of exposure to COVID-19 through improved hygiene,physical distancing during outside activities, and with increased program planning within the homes. Recognising the stress that the current situation can create, we continue to adapt and look for additional ways to assist our entire team.
It feels like it’s been so long since this started; however, we are only 13 days since the state of emergency order and today is Day 6 outside of the actual academic setting. There were many transitions last week and thank you to everyone for your patience and effort in assisting in the best interest of our students.
Today, information from the Ontario government indicates that schools will remain closed, with another review occurring in 2 weeks. Most of our students remain and are progressing within the program. We have had questions from some families regarding fee reductions for those who have not returned to the program. Please, remember like all schools we operate on a semester basis; tuition is paid for the semester, though some families choose to spread this cost out over monthly instalments, and many operating costs are spread throughout this period, regardless of when they occur. Nevertheless, if the current situation continues, we are looking at some possible compensation for those students impacted by border closures or limitations to Applewood resources. Families who are in this group will be contacted by Applewood in order to meet your unique circumstances and any possible reduction will be realized as a credit on the last instalment.
We are continuing to manage the many changes and adaptations required during these tumultuous times and will keep you informed as changes become necessary. Please, continue to use physical distancing and handwashing to protect yourselves and loved ones. Stay safe.
Academic Planning And Support For Applewood Students During The State Of Emergency
March 18, 2020
I am sure that everyone has questions regarding the academic program that will be offered to our students during the current suspension of classes as a result of the State of Emergency announced by the Ontario Government. Our Team is currently working on a remote school system that will start on Tuesday, March 24 and that will continue to provide our students with access to academics along with support from our Elementary Teacher David and our High School Teacher Doug. In addition, during this time, I will also be providing extra instructional support to our students both in the High School and Elementary Programs where required. We are doing our best to structure a program that will effectively support our learners; however, I ask that you bear with us as we prepare it this week as this is a scenario that we have not encountered before.
I understand your need for information; however, please refrain from contacting Applewood for specifics right now regarding the academic program as we are putting our time and efforts into its creation while our students are on March Break. We are hoping to have a description to you by 5pm on Friday, March 20th and use Monday, March 23rd to solidify schedules with parents/host parents/staff and get the required academic packages to our students. If at that time you have additional questions please reach out to me directly regarding the academic programming and I will answer them to the best of my ability.
I hope that you are all enjoying the outdoors and your time together.
A Message from the Executive Director
Families, Students, Clinicians and Staff,
March 17, 2020
In light of the Ontario government’s Emergency Declaration, we will be suspending classes at AAPL following the end of March break. Students who have not yet returned to Applewood, will no longer be able to do so and should remain with their family as this has been deemed the safest course of action. Students currently boarding in the program can remain, unless guardians wish for their return. Those remaining in the boarding program will continue to follow the limitations in place throughout the current pandemic. Activities will be restricted to in-house and nature walks in open spaces and parks where available.
Whether returning to the program or not, it is important for children and adolescents that structure and routines are continued. We will work with parents to help set up structured schedules within their homes. We will continue to conduct learning through ZOOM and teachers will continue to email, assist with, and mark assignments. Schedules will be established for independent learning.
We will also continue to coordinate therapy sessions and psychiatric consults as appropriate in person or through ZOOM.
We will continue to update you regarding COVID-19 as information becomes available.
March 13, 2020
As I am sure you are aware, the WHO Director-General has recently declared the coronavirus (COVID- 19) a pandemic. We recognize that a global pandemic, with mass media coverage, can generate fear and anxiety for many. Please, be aware that we have implemented our Pandemic Policies to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on our students, staff and families.
The current situation is very fluid, and we are regularly monitoring information from various government websites and following the recommendations and guidelines from authorities including Health Canada and Hastings Prince Edward Public Health. To improve communication, we have added a COVID-19 update to our website https://applewoodacademy.com/covid-19-updates/ . We will keep this up to date with information related to COVID-19 and how the situation affects Applewood’s operations.
Presently, the Ontario ministry of education has indicated that all public schools will be closed for an additional two weeks following the March break. This is understandable as they have many hundreds of thousands of students within the public educational system. As Applewood is a small private school, we can monitor the status of our students and staff with greater ease and reliability. Therefore, we will continue with the curriculum following the March break as scheduled. We asked that our staff, families, clinicians, and students carefully monitor their health status for symptoms of COVID-19 and learn and meticulously implement handwashing and social distancing protocols.
We are asking our support staff and host families to please report any symptoms that may be related to the COVID-19. If you are experiencing any related symptoms, we ask that you self isolate and not attend the school for 14 days. Prior to your return, you must have a doctor’s report indicating that you are no longer a risk of contagion. With respect to students, where possible we will try to accommodate their isolation as required. However, if this is not possible, we may require that the parents remove the child to an alternate location.
We have also implemented enhanced cleaning protocols and, though difficult to obtain, have secured a supply of hand sanitizer and disinfectant. These will be distributed as required.
Although the Canadian government has not formalized any travel restrictions, the guidelines suggest the travel outside of Canada is not recommended at present. This is particularly true if you are travelling to one of the affected zones, China, Iran, Italy, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Spain. It is also recommended that people avoid all travel on cruise ships during this time.
In an abundance of caution, we are now requiring that any staff or students who have traveled outside of Canada, especially via air, train or ship to self isolate and monitor their health for signs or symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days. Please, contact our Program Coordinator, Melissa Hulshof to discuss options.
I want to assure you that we have no cases of COVID-19 within the community at present and we are employing these precautionary measures to minimize the risk as much as we can. We will notify immediately of any changes to our protocols as they become available.
Last Updated at 9:38 am April 16, 2020