This is the back-to-school plan for Windsor-Essex students

Grant Boone
July 31, 2020

The Ontario government announced Thursday that elementary schools will reopen on a full-time basis for students.

When those older students aren't in class, the province says they'll have "curriculum-linked independent work" to tackle at home.

Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce unveiled the Ontario Government's plan to reopen schools in September during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this adapted model, classes would be limited to about 15 students who would attend in-person classes half the time - on alternate days, for instance.

Many students in kindergarten to Grade 8 will be in cohorts of up to 75 students.

On the other hand, Lecce says two dozen school boards, including the Durham District School Board (DDSB), the Durham Catholic District School Board (DCDSB) and the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), will only head to class every other day, with a maximum class size of 15. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be encouraged to wear masks in common spaces, but will not be required.

Sarlo said she anticipates a survey to be distributed to parents as well as a request to register students.

"We are doing our best to be nimble in order to adjust to this dynamic situation and commit to providing updates as timely as possible", said Sean Monteith, Director of Education.

"Our children belong in schools", he said. The return to classes will begin at Level 1 in September, but this may be scaled up depending on COVID-19 cases in the province.

In the classroom, students will be spaced out every 6 feet when possible. They also requested a significant increase in funding for everything from cleaning to school ventilation.

The plan calls for elementary students to spend the day with classmates in their cohort, including recess and lunch.

Assemblies and gatherings that exceed whatever the current public health guidelines are at that time won't be allowed.

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"We're not one of the designated boards that need to do cohorting for secondary, so students will be back in the classroom with a commitment to safety and well being with public health guidelines and protocols in place", said Jennifer Sarlo, ADSB chair.

Sports and extracurricular activities will also be allowed to resume if physical distancing can be maintained. Field trips will be allowed, but out-of-province travel is not recommended.

Despite all these new rules in the classroom, Lecce added parents will continue to have the option to keep their children home for distance learning.

Parents will learn more about the specifics of their school's plan when school divisions release their plans by mid-August, officials said Thursday. "We need to consider the toll it's taking on the physical and mental health and personal development of our kids; we know isolation has been extremely hard on them", said Ford.

Because students and staff will be encouraged to stay home whenever sick, the province expects a higher absenteeism rate than normal, Goertzen said. "We're going to take all that information and we will be able to gauge where our families and staff are in terms of how they feel about the return to school".

Face coverings for younger students will be optional. I do think I would send my kids back to school.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin outlines what would happen if a student at a school tested positive for COVID-19.

The safety and well-being of students and staff are the foundation of our school re-opening planning and decision making.

Here's a look at the government's plan for September.

"They both were able to do online learning and they handled it pretty well but I think the social aspect is important".

"However, as is required by the province, we will be adopting timetabling methods that limit the number of student-to-student contacts".

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