We wanted to provide an update on our continued planning for the upcoming school year. We know that parents are anxious for their children’s continued learning, and are eager for further clarity on what programming for students may look like as we move forward.
Today, the provincial government announced that elementary students, Kindergarten to Grade 8, will attend school five days per week, with enhanced health and safety requirements. Secondary students in our school board will also attend school full-time, with timetable adjustments that reduce the number of classes each day, and limit student and staff contacts.
Please see the news release from the Ministry of Education below for the full announcement.
Locally, our return to school planning will support one central principle: safeguarding the health and welfare of students, staff and the community in a manner that reflects the Board’s core values.
As we continue to work toward finalizing our plans, here is what we can share right now based on the latest directives from the provincial government. As always, our plans are based on advice, guidance and directives of provincial and local public health officials.
Elementary Model Overview
Elementary students will attend school every day in regular classroom numbers with one cohort for the full day, including recess and lunch. Physical distancing and hand hygiene protocols will also be implemented. Students in Grade 4 and up will be required to wear non-medical face masks while at school, while students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be encouraged, but not required, to wear masks in indoor spaces.
Secondary Model Overview
Secondary students will attend school full-time, but timetables will be adjusted to reduce the number of classes each day, and limit student and staff contacts. Physical distancing and hand hygiene protocols will also be implemented. Secondary students will be required to wear non-medical face masks while at school.
Now that we have confirmation on the models for school start-up, we can finalize our planning for the return of students. In the coming days and weeks, we will share all of this important information with families, to support a successful transition back to school.
Learning At-Home – The Ministry has indicated that families may choose not to attend in-person school at this time (both elementary and secondary). Students who opt-out of in-class learning will continue to receive instruction through our established distance learning models, with an emphasis on real-time learning. Teachers assigned specifically to at-home learning will teach students. More information about the learning at-home option will be shared with parents soon. Once all details about our back-to-school plan have been shared, families will be asked to inform schools if they intend to opt-out of in-school learning.
PPE – School-based staff who are regularly in close contact with students will be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE), including medical face masks and face shields where appropriate. The government will provide PPE and cleaning products to school boards and will work closely with boards to facilitate appropriate supply and delivery.
Adjustments to School Routines – Our ongoing planning will include adjustments to how students and staff share space within schools. This will include physical distancing protocols in a number of areas, including:
Lunch and Recess Breaks
School Entry and Exit Processes
Hand Hygiene – Hand hygiene will be an important part of school routines. We will have touchless sanitizers in key areas throughout all schools and every classroom will have hand sanitizer available for students. Signage at sinks and sanitizing stations will remind students about proper cleaning techniques. Time will be provided for handwashing and/or hand sanitizing throughout the school day.
Pandemic Cleaning Practices – All schools are implementing Pandemic Cleaning protocols to support healthy, safe school facilities. Pandemic Cleaning includes the increased cleaning and disinfecting of all high touch surfaces in schools – three times per day. In addition to this, at the end of each school day, an afternoon shift of custodial workers will come in to thoroughly clean schools to ensure a safe environment for students the next day.
Illness and Screening Protocols – We continue to develop and finalize, in collaboration and discussion with our local health units, a protocol for responding and communicating to parents about any possible infection outbreaks. We are also working on self-screening tools to support student and staff attendance.
Mental Health – It is recognized that additional supports will need to be in place for students as they transition back to the classroom. Mental Health Clinicians will participate in school planning meetings and transition meetings to support the planning for those students with mental health needs. Teacher resources and strategies are also being provided to all KPR teachers to assist with student transitions back to school.
Students with Special Education Needs – Our Special Education Services staff have been working to ensure that our return to school plans include strategies to support students with specialized learning needs attending school with their peers. Students registered in the congregated Learning and Life Skills (LLS) classes, and all students with special education needs, will be able to attend school every day.
Transportation – We continue to plan, with our bus operators, for the safe resumption of transportation to school for all eligible students. This will include enhanced health and safety and cleaning protocols. This important information will be communicated to families soon.
We appreciate that, in addition to the uncommon experiences shaping our day-to-day lives currently, that the uncertainty and expectations for the new school year are a point of stress for students and families.
We will provide further information home as soon as we are able to allow parents to complete their planning for September.
Please continue to practice physical distancing.
Director of Education