You can watch it live in this story.
Ontario students will return to class full-time in September, with distance learning remaining an option, the province has confirmed in its official back-to-school strategy – but the plan is limited in detail on how schools will manage COVID-19 cases and outbreaks.
Students and staff will be required to wear masks indoors, with the exception of meal breaks and low-contact physical activities, and everyone will be required to self-screen before entering school facilities.
But the 29-page document released on Tuesday does not contain a protocol for handling COVID-19 outbreaks, nor does it set a threshold for closing schools or classrooms. The plan also does not indicate what level of transmission in the surrounding community could affect a school’s operations.
More than 4,800 Ontario schools have had to close due to COVID-19 cases at some point from September to June, and 11,462 students have contracted the virus, according to provincial data.
“To prepare for a potential closure, school boards should have plans in place to move quickly to distance learning to ensure learning continuity for students,” the plan says.
You can read Ontario’s back to school plan in full at the bottom of this story.
For secondary students, school boards have been instructed to set up schedules that do not include more than two lessons at a time for secondary students in the fall semester “in order to maintain the possibility of returning to more measures. restrictive, if necessary ”.
Music programs will be allowed in well ventilated areas, with singing and wind instruments allowed in grouped groups with a distance of at least two meters.
The final page of the plan, titled “Managing COVID-19 in Schools,” says, “This section is forthcoming,” adding that it will build on guidance provided during the 2020-21 school year.
Key points of Ontario’s back-to-school plan:
- Students in Grades 1 to 12 are required to wear masks indoors (with some exceptions such as low-contact physical activity and during meals).
- Staff and students are required to screen themselves daily using the tool provided by the province, although in some cases schools may be asked to do enhanced screening.
- Anyone showing symptoms according to the provincial screening tool should not go to school and potentially get tested or see a doctor.
- School boards are expected to have all ventilation systems inspected and in good repair before the start of the school year.
- School boards without mechanical ventilation (those that rely on windows to bring in fresh air) are expected to place self-contained high efficiency particulate filter (HEPA) units in all classrooms.
Earlier today, the Ontario NDP called on the province to require education workers who are not fully immunized take rapid COVID-19 tests when students return to school in the ‘fall.
Rapid tests, which Ford dubbed “game changers” in February, have been rolled out in collective care, long-term care homes and various essential workplaces. However, the back-to-school plan makes no mention of rapid testing.
See for yourself the back-to-school plan for the province here: