Back to school plans for students across Canada in the age of COVID-19

COVID-19 in Canada With the start of the school year drawing ever-closer, many parents and

COVID-19 in Canada
COVID-19 in Canada

With the start of the school year drawing ever-closer, many parents and students are anxious about what the return to the classroom will look like for them. We’ve got a roundup of some of the back-to-school plans that have been released.

Quebec

  • Masks are mandatory for all students in Grade 5 and up when not in a classroom, including on school transportation like buses, or public transit.

  • Each classroom will be its own bubble, and students will not be required to socially distance from classmates.

  • Students who are not in the same class must maintain one metre of social distance.

  • A distance of two metres must be maintained at all times between students and school staff. The exception is Kindergarten, where social distancing will not be required.

  • All children in elementary and secondary schools are expected to return to the classroom in September, with exceptions made for children with significant health problems; they will be offered a remote learning option.

  • All subjects will be taught, including Arts, Physical Education and Health.

  • For school boards with Secondary V and VI (equivalent to Grade 10 and 11) students, alternative arrangements (like special projects or changes to regular school schedules) can be made to accommodate students remaining in their class groups. In-school learning must be at least 50 per cent of the instruction time, accompanied by at-home learning.

  • In the event of a second wave, students will be ensured access to distance learning services.

You can read the province’s full back-to-school plan here.

Ontario

Bushra (7) is sitting in the classroom wearing a mask in Frankfurt, Germany on July 29, 2020. Photo: Andreas Arnold/dpa (Photo by Andreas Arnold/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Bushra (7) is sitting in the classroom wearing a mask in Frankfurt, Germany on July 29, 2020. Photo: Andreas Arnold/dpa (Photo by Andreas Arnold/picture alliance via Getty Images)
  • Students will be returning to the classroom full time, five days a week for five hours of instruction a day.

  • Returning to the classroom in September 2020 will be voluntary, based on the choice of parents. If parents do not with their child return to school, they can opt out.

  • Elementary school students will be in “cohorts,” grouped with the same students for recess and lunch. Class sizes will be the same as the maximum levels put in place before the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Secondary school students in designated school boards will attend school on alternating days in cohorts of about 15 students. “Designated school boards” are primarily in areas with high student density.

  • Secondary students in non-designated school boards will attend school full time.

  • Children with special needs who struggle with remote learning can attend school daily.

  • Students in Grades 4 through 12 are required to wear a non-medical mask or face covering while in school. Students in Kindergarten through Grade 3 are encouraged to wear masks but are not required to do so.

  • Teachers and staff will be provided with medical masks.

  • School boards have been asked to prepare for three different scenarios: 1. Normal school day with enhanced health and safety protocols; 2. Modified school day routine that would include cohorts and alternative day or week education delivery; and 3. At-home learning with remote delivery.

  • School boards are asked to be nimble, as they may need to switch which of these scenarios they are using through the school year.

  • Schools should be prepared to offer remote learning options for students and families who opt not to return to the classroom, and extend agreements to provide students with devices and internet connectivity if they were not able to otherwise access those resources.

  • Timetables should be such that students are only in contact with their “cohort” (including a single teacher) for as much of the school day as possible.

  • For days that students aren’t in classrooms due to cohorting, students should complete curriculum linked work remotely.

  • The need to eliminate rotating teachers will require changes in how subjects like music, French or Anglais, art and physical education are delivered.

  • Boards are encouraged to offer regular, everyday timetabling for special education classes and participating students.

  • Schools should use procedures that encourage physical distancing, like tape on the floor, scheduling recess in smaller groups and holding outdoor physical education classes.

  • Minimize the use of personal belongings including backpacks, clothing and sunscreen — if brought, ask that the items be labelled and kept separate in the child’s area.

  • School boards should work with service providers to ensure that before- and after-school programming is available to support children and families.

  • Extra-curricular activities like organized sports and clubs can resume if social distancing can be maintained and spaces are disinfected between each use.

  • Students who develop COVID-19 symptoms will be isolated, and sent home. The student can return after they test negative, and are symptom-free for 24 hours.

You can read the province’s full back-to-school plan here.

British Columbia

  • Students will be returning to the classroom in September in Stage 2: in-class learning with learning group requirements.

  • Elementary and middle school learning groups are limited to 60 students, while secondary school learning groups are limited to 120.

  • Students will be instructed for the maximum instructional time possible within the learning group limits.

  • Self-directed learning will supplement in-class learning, if required.

  • Students who have complex medical conditions or underlying risk factors should consult with their doctor before returning to the classroom, and protective self-isolation only needs to occur in cases where the student is severely immunocompromised, or on a case-by-case basis.

  • Parents who don’t want to send their children back to school in person can register for online or distributed learning, based on availability, or home schooling.

  • Students and staff are not required to wear masks. It is not recommended that young children wear masks. Older students and staff will have non-medical masks provided upon request for use when the student is interacting outside of their learning group and maintaining social distancing isn’t possible, including riding the bus.

  • It is recommended older students wear non-medical masks when riding the bus, but no student will be required to do so. Each student should have their own seat where possible, unless they are sitting with someone in their household or in their learning group.

  • If a student or staff member falls sick while at school, they will be put in isolation until they are able to return home, and the place where they were isolating will be cleaned by custodial staff.

  • Full-time class instruction will take place provided health and safety measures can be accommodated, including special needs instruction, mental health and well-being of students, options for students with complex medical needs.

  • Extracurricular activities including sports, band, choir, other arts and special interest groups can occur if social distancing can be maintained. However inter-school competitions cannot occur at this time.

You can read the province’s back-to-school plan here.

Alberta

  • Cohorts of students will be created where possible.

  • Classrooms will be reorganized to encourage social distancing.

  • All students must have their own supplies, and equipment should be cleaned if students or staff share anything.

  • When riding the school bus, a loading and unloading procedure that supports distancing between people of two metres or more will be done where possible, and a protective zone will be maintained for the driver.

  • Parents, students, and school staff must complete self-screening measures daily before going to the school building.

  • Students showing COVID-19 symptoms with allergies or other pre-existing conditions should get at least one negative COVID-19 test before returning to school.

  • If a student shows symptoms of COVID-19 while at school, the parent will be asked to pick up the child immediately. The student will be asked to wear a non-medical mask and be isolated until they are able to be taken home. Parents will be notified if a COVID-19 case is confirmed in the school.

  • Masks are not mandated for students and staff, but they may choose to wear one, and they are recommended when in close contact for 15 minutes or more and social distancing of two metres cannot be maintained.

  • Foot traffic should be guided using markers on the floors or barriers and pylons.

  • School officials have the authorization to reduce time spent teaching non-core subjects to allow for additional instruction time on core subjects.

You can read the province’s back-to-school plan here.

Manitoba

  • All students Kindergarten through Grade 12 will return to the classroom on Sept. 8, 2020.

  • Some remote learning may be required for students Grade 9-12, depending on the ability of the school to maintain physical distancing and support contact tracing. Special needs students may return to school five days a week regardless of grade level.

  • Students who are unable to return to school due to personal or family health risks will be supported through remote learning.

  • Divisions must make sure all students learning remotely have access to technology.

  • Staff and students must stay home if sick or displaying symptoms.

  • Schools will need to consider how to manage foot traffic in hallways, entries and exits, and must stagger drop-offs and pickups.

  • Students must avoid interacting with others outside of their cohort. When on buses or during activities when physical distancing may not be possible, students told to emphasize other public health measures.

  • Technology education programming can continue if proper public health measures are observed.

  • Extra-curricular activities will be assessed by the school as to whether they can resume.

  • Parents are encouraged to transport their children to school whenever possible. Full guidelines for transportation are available.

  • Desks in classrooms will be space two metres apart, minimum one metre, which may result in smaller class groupings.

  • In-class students will be timetabled to avoid mixing of groups.

  • Core curriculum and required courses will be prioritized.

  • Electives may be made available remotely where possible.

You can read about the province’s back-to-school plan here.

Source Article