English-language school boards outline their fall plans amid COVID-19

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From hand sanitizer in every classroom to teachers in personal protective equipment, Ottawa’s two largest school boards are giving parents a taste of what September will be like back in the classroom.The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) and the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) described changes made this fall to ensure the protection of students and staff.

As elementary and middle school students return to class full-time, provincial regulations require students in grades 4 and up to wear masks, but the two English-language boards are also encouraging parents to equip younger children with masks. reusable masks.

They will also have hand sanitizer in every classroom and at every entrance to the school, and students will need to use it when entering and leaving.

School hallways will also have directional signs and markers to keep students away from each other, and neither parents nor volunteers will be allowed inside the building.

Dozens of students in elementary classes

Growing class sizes has been a concern for parents over the years, but especially before the return in September, given the risk of the spread of COVID-19 among students.

On Monday, the OCDSB announced the maximum class size:

  • For kindergarten: 29 students.
  • For 1st to 3rd year students: 23 students.
  • No maximum for 4th to 6th grade students, but generally under 30.
  • No maximum for students in Grades 7-8, but generally under 30.

Meanwhile, the OCSB said it plans to have an average of 26 children in a kindergarten class, up to 23 students in a grade 1 to 3 class, and an average of 24.5 students. from grades 4 to 8.

An example of what a classroom in a school in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board might look like, with desks and bins spaced apart to store students’ belongings. (Ottawa-Carleton District School Board)

Elementary students from both councils will be required to stay with their own classrooms throughout the day, including during lunch, recess and when receiving physical education.

Only teachers will alternate between classrooms.

“Ottawa Public Health has reviewed all of our plans to see how we will balance the risks of going back to school with the potential harms of not having developmentally appropriate interactions with students,” said Thomas D ‘ Amico, director of education for OCSB. a video posted on Monday.

While people are expected to physically distance themselves by staying two meters apart, D’Amico acknowledged that one meter is “the reality in most of our classrooms.”

The OCDSB also released its own video on Monday.

Distance learning deadline is approaching

Both boards recognize that secondary schools are more complicated, given their size and the number of students.

Students will not be returning to class five days per week, and instead of the typical two-semester academic year, students will have four semesters, each covering two courses.

The OCDSB said that students in its high school classes will be divided into two groups, each with around 15 students. They will attend the class two or three days a week, alternating from week to week, and will learn from home on the days they are not in class.

Parents can decide to keep their kids at home and learn remotely for the coming year, but they have to make that choice by Friday.

Both councils said parents might be able to change their minds, but likely not until at least halfway through fall.

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