Return to Campus

Healthy Community

"It is critical that we balance the risks of COVID-19 in children, which appear to be minimal, with the harms of school closure which is impacting their physical and mental health. It should be recognized that it will not be possible to remove all risk of infection and disease now that SARS-CoV-2 is well established in many communities. Mitigation of risk, while easing restrictions, will be needed for the foreseeable future."

          —"COVID-19: Recommendations for School Reopening," SickKids

Throughout the autumn, our community will require a flexible model and growth mindset as we all adapt to our new normal. While Ridley is committed to health and safety, we are also focused on delivering our typical transformative learning experience. Below, we have outlined our core strategies for mitigating risk, while maintaining the Ridley experience.

Daily Health Screening

In keeping with Ridley’s layered approach in mitigating risk for COVID-19 in our community, all students, faculty and staff will complete a daily health screening questionnaire prior to arriving on campus. Boarding students will complete this screening process in their Houses. If any COVID-19 symptoms are noted during the daily health screening, the individual will not attend school and will follow Health Centre guidelines.
Additionally, a secondary on-site assessment will take place each morning to monitor temperatures for all students and employees before the start of the school or work day.
Day parents and guardians play a critical role in health screening at home and creating a culture of self-monitoring. Parents must refrain from bringing students to campus if there is even the slightest suspicion of COVID-19, or direct contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19 and/or is awaiting test results.
Additionally, signage will be posted around campus to alert students, faculty and staff to the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and encourage self-monitoring and reporting of these symptoms. No visitors will be permitted on campus unless deemed essential to the school's operation. Those exceptions will also be required to complete a health screening prior to arrival.

Hand & Respiratory Hygiene

Hand-washing is the single most important thing one can do to prevent pathogens from entering the body and causing illness. Regular hand-cleaning with warm water and soap, or an alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) containing at least 70 per cent alcohol, for 20 seconds will reduce the risk infection in both children and adults.

To promote hand hygiene ABHR, dispensers are located around the school at entrances, exits, stairwells, common spaces, living spaces, and inside every classroom.

With support from health services, faculty will teach students about why, how and when to clean hands, and to cover coughs and sneezes. A schedule for hand-washing will be part of the daily routine for our younger grades and promoted amongst older students within their daily routines.

Physical Distancing & De-Densifying

At Ridley, we will employ physical distancing measures in shared spaces like classrooms and dining areas, separating students by at least two metres. In classrooms, physical distancing will be encouraged through separation of desks by at least two metres, turning desks to all face the same direction and assigning seats.

In addition, large outdoor spaces, some of our gymnasiums, the Great Hall, Williams Hall, the Ross E. Morrow Theatre, and Mandeville Theatre will be repurposed as temporary learning spaces to improve physical distancing practices for larger class sizes. We will employ visual cues across campus, such as floor markings and signage, to encourage physical distancing and directional traffic at entrances, exits and stairwells in an attempt to safely manage the flow of our student population.

Decreasing the density of Houses, indoor spaces, and classrooms is an essential step in reducing the risk of infection. To that end, we will reduce the number of learners in one space at a time or hold classes in larger spaces, while maintaining a two metre distance.

In addition, we will reimagine our traditional large group gatherings like Chapel and weekly Assembly in order to decrease the density of these important events and maintain appropriate physical distancing. 

Cohorting & 'Family Units'

Ridley will endeavour to keep class groups as distinct and separate as possible. For example, group distancing means that students in one class will be kept separate from students in other classes, so these class groups avoid being in the same location at any given time. Although this is more easily accomplished with Lower School classes, the Upper School modified schedule (see Healthy Schedules) will reduce the amount of transition time and the number of different class locations a student experiences. Boarding students will practice similar cohorting practices that will promote inter-House 'family units' (see Healthy Boarding). Although day students will remain integral members of their Houses, in order to maintain the integrity of the House 'family unit,' Upper School day students will not share a room with boarding students. Day students will be provided with an alternative centre to store personal belongings, study and socialize during the day and evening. House meetings and special activities will remain an essential aspect of our residential life experience for both day and boarding students.

Essential Visitors

In support of our density reduction strategy, we will employ a very cautious approach to visitors to campus, taking every effort to maintain the integrity of our bubble. Only essential visitors will be permitted on campus, and only following a successful health screening process. Parents will require an appointment to access the campus buildings and, as much as possible, parent-teacher meetings will be conducted via online technologies such as Zoom. Of course, we remain committed to partnering with our parents and want to welcome them to campus as much as possible, when it is safe to do so.

Masking Requirements

Non-medical cloth masks play an important role in reducing transmission of COVID-19 in situations and community settings where consistent physical distancing is unpredictable. Wearing a cloth face mask is an additional personal practice that can help limit the spread of respiratory droplets and smaller aerosols when people breath, speak, laugh, cough, or sneeze. Wearing face masks is part of our layered approach to mitigating risk of transmission of COVID-19 from individuals who are asymptomatic and infectious.

Medical or non-medical face masks (preferably triple layer) must be worn by students in Grades 1 to 12 and any adult while indoors, and where maintaining two metres of physical distance is not possible or predictable. Masks are recommended for students in Junior and Senior Kindergarten, but are not mandatory. We recognize that some students may not be able to wear a mask or face covering for the following reasons.
Exemptions to wearing a non-medical face mask: 

  • The person is unable to wear the face mask because it would inhibit their breathing for medical reasons. 
  • The person cannot safely wear a face mask for any other medical reasons, such as having respiratory disease, cognitive difficulties or difficulties in hearing or processing information.
  • For religious reasons, the person cannot wear a face mask or cannot wear one in a manner which would properly control the source. 
  • The person is a child under the age of two. 
The ability of a child or youth to follow direction and wear the face mask appropriately is dependent on a variety of factors (e.g. age, maturity, physical ability, comprehension). It will be important for students, parents or employees to assess ability to properly use and care for the mask, based on the individual. Ridleians in Grade 1 to 12 who are unable to wear a face mask may elect to wear an alternative form of PPE. 

*Please note that masking requirements for Grades 1 to 3 became mandatory in Ontario on January 14th, 2021.

Enhanced Cleaning & Disinfecting Practices

In partnership with Chartwells, we will significantly increase the regular cleaning and disinfection of high traffic spaces across campus, such as classrooms, common rooms, washrooms, and dining areas. Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and shared resources, such as manipulatives, doorknobs, water fountains, light switches, toilet and faucet handles, electronic devices, students’ chairs, and desks/tabletops, will occur at least twice a day in accordance with public health recommendations. In addition, we will reinforce frequent hand-washing—including before and after using shared materials—as an important risk reduction strategy.

Additional mitigation measures to reduce exposure to high-touch surfaces will be implemented, including reducing the number of common surfaces that need to be touched (e.g. propping open internal doors). There will be a reduction in communal equipment and supplies to minimize sharing. A full list will be forthcoming.

Ridley has also invested in electrostatic disinfection sprayers, which positively charge particles of cleaning solution called Unitab. Unitab is a part of Health Canada's list of hard-surface disinfectants with evidence of protecting against COVID-19. This is claimed on the manufacturer's website and can be verified by cross referencing the Heath Canada online listing

Handshakes & Physical Contact

We will create a culture where acts of social solidarity that inspire physical contact—such as hugs, handshakes and high-fives—are replaced with new contactless signals, like smiles, waves, "air" high fives, and giving a thumbs-up.


One unique challenge to mitigating the spread of the virus are school uniforms—particularly those items which require dry-cleaning. In order to more flexible and hygienic options, a more relaxed dress code will be implemented in both Upper and Lower School. Items requiring dry-cleaning will no longer be part of the school uniform and discouraged for boarders. Instead, students are expected to wear clean classroom dress and activewear that can be easily and regularly washed in a washer and dryer. Prior to the start of the school year, families will be able to purchase uniform items via Hank's, our online school store. More details on specific uniform requirements and our store opening are forthcoming.

Please reference the above section on Masking Requirements.

Personal Belongings

For September, we encourage day students to limit the number of personal belongings they bring to the school (e.g., backpack, clothing, etc.), and ask that those items be labelled and kept in the student’s designated area. Students are expected to bring to school only that which is needed—taking care to ensure items are clean, in good order and stored safely is an individual responsibility. Storage space will be provided, but limited, so please bring only what is necessary.

Emotional Support & Wellbeing

A healthy community is also characterized by good mental health. As such, student mental health and wellbeing will be an ongoing, core element of our Return to Campus Roadmap; it is foundational in ensuring a welcoming environment which supports learning, and where students are known and cared for.
Support for student mental health and wellbeing will continue to be guided by our dedicated social emotional counsellors, who will be supported by a team of professionals. These include Faculty Advisors, Health Centre professionals, our Director of Wellbeing, Heads of Houses, Assistant Heads of Houses, Residential Dons, and Advisors.


  • We're introducing FlourishApp, a new application which students can use to monitor and strategize their own wellbeing.
  • Routine wellbeing checks will be put in place for all students: these will begin during self-isolation for boarding students.
  • Ongoing wellbeing education will be provided by classroom teachers and advisors.
  • One-to-one counselling sessions continue to be available both by student initiative and referrals (including those at a parent’s request).
  • A new peer-provided system of support will be available to all students.
  • Regular meetings will continue between Heads of Houses and Ridley's counselling service, in order to ensure fluid communication about each student's wellbeing and their place in the House.    
  • A well-established network of external providers will continue to work closely with Ridley's counsellors to ensure students can quickly access the appropriate services, if required.
  • And a strong community remains, as always, an essential, primary place of belonging and affiliation.


List of 9 frequently asked questions.

  • Can a person become infected by COVID-19 more than once?  

    To date, there is no well-documented evidence of people becoming infected more than once, however, it is still uncertain if a past infection provides protection against future infections. Although it appears that most people who have been infected develop antibodies (substances the body makes to protect against future infection as a result of past infection or vaccination), researchers are still determining if these antibodies will protect them into the future—and, if they are protected, how long that protection will last.  

  • Can droplets from coughs travel further than two metres 

    If a person is coughing or sneezing, large droplets generally fall to surfaces or the floor within a two metre distance—though it may be possible for some smaller droplets to travel further. To ensure coughs and sneezes do not infect others, it is important to block the droplets; cough and/or sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve or elbow, and clean hands thoroughly afterwards. Wearing a mask (either a non-medical cloth or surgical/procedure mask) will also help trap droplets from the mouth or nose during coughing, sneezing, talking, or singing. This is referred to as 'source control,' where the goal is to protect others.  

  • How likely is someone to be exposed to COVID-19 after entering a space, once an infected person has left?  

    COVID-19 spreads when droplets from an infected person—by way of coughing, sneezing, singing, speaking, or breathing—land in the mouth, nose or eyes of another person. Nearby surfaces and objects can become contaminated by droplets that fall on them, or if an infected person touches surfaces or objects when they have virus on their hands.  

    Though they may not look dirty, if the virus has landed on surfaces or objects that have not been properly cleaned and disinfected, this is a possible way to be exposed. If someone touches contaminated surfaces and then touches their mouth, nose or eyes without first cleaning their hands, they may contract the virus.  

    At this time, there is very little information about surface spread. Additionally, there is currently no evidence of infection spread from individuals breathing in air after an infected person has left the room.  

  • When and where will the daily screening and health checks take place?

    All students and parents will be set up to fill out our health screening questionnaire using the Boardingware application. This screening will be completed daily, prior to arrival at school. Using the same app, boarding students will complete the questionnaire before leaving their House each day.

    On-site temperature checks will take place once students arrive at school, before they begin interacting with each other. Various locations will be set up across campus which will serve designated grades.

  • Will you be able to give COVID-19 tests to students with symptoms?

    Yes, we are equipped to complete testing on-site, have access to a local testing centre and, alternatively, can use a private lab for testing.
  • Masks need to be changed frequently. Will Ridley provide students with masks? 

    Ridley will provide each student in Grade 1 to 12—boarding and day—with three cloth masks, along with detailed instruction on how to care for and handle them.

    *Please note that masking requirements for Grades 1 to 3 became mandatory in Ontario on January 14th, 2021.
  • Are masks required for very young students?

    Masks must be worn by students in Grade 1 to 12 throughout the school day and are recommended for students in JK and SK. Fabric masks will be provided to all students, however, it is parents' responsibility to determine if a mask is appropriate and effective for their child. For example, consider the child's ability to remove and reapply the mask while at school—keeping in mind that teachers can assist as needed. If students in Grades 1 to 12 are unable to wear a mask, we will provide them with face shields to help mitigate risk.

    Refer to Masking Requirements section above.

    *Please note that masking requirements for Grades 1 to 3 became mandatory in Ontario on January 14th, 2021.
  • What processes need to be followed when a student returns to campus? (For example, following travel, a hospital stay, a healthcare appointment, or visiting family off-site.) 

    • Students who leave campus for 24 hours (overnight stay), but have not left Canada, will be monitored twice a day for symptoms of COVID-19 upon their return.  
    • Students travelling outside of Canada will be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to campus, as per the Quarantine Act.  
    • Students diagnosed with COVID-19 and returning to campus from hospital will remain as in-patients in the Schmon Health and Wellness Centre, until they meet the criteria to safely return to their dorm.  
    • Students returning to campus after a same-day appointment (no overnight stay) generally would not need special measures. 


  • When it comes to shared bathrooms, what are the recommended practices to reduce the risk and spread of COVID-19?  

    • Staggering schedules for using common bathrooms for hygiene practices (e.g. washing, bathing, showering, teeth brushing, shaving), ensuring smaller groups use bathrooms at different times. 
    • Disinfecting high-touch items in bathrooms (e.g. taps, handles, sinks) after each use by the user with disinfectant wipes. Additionally, cleaning and disinfecting bathrooms at least twice daily and when dirty. 
    • Students must have their own towels and personal items (e.g., toothbrushes, razors, combs). Personal items must be stored in the student's room (not in a shared washroom) in order to prevent accidental sharing. 
    • Signage posted in every bathroom will remind students, faculty and staff of recommended hygiene practices.  

P.O. Box 3013, 2 Ridley Road St. Catharines, Ontario L2R 7C3 Canada 905 684 1889
With more than 700 students from 60 countries, the largest boarding programme in Ontario and the third largest in Canada, Ridley College is a truly international, co-educational, day and boarding school of the world that prepares students for the world. It has provided enriching learning and life-shaping experiences focused on the arts, academics, and athletics since 1889. Ridley’s Lower School offers JK-Grade 8, its Upper School consists of Grade 9-PG, and Ridley graduates attend some of the top universities and colleges around the world. Ridley is the only   co-ed independent boarding school in Canada and one of only three in North America authorized to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) continuum programme.