Fall plan for Simcoe County students
Simcoe County families got a first look at the Ontario Government's plans for back to school this fall.
Elementary and secondary students will return to in-person learning in school in September with what the government is calling multiple strategies and layering of controls to support the health and safety of students and staff.
Elementary and secondary students will return to the classroom five days a week; adding remote learning will remain an option for families who don't feel comfortable returning to the classroom.
Like the 2020-2021 school year, masks will be mandatory for Grade 1 through Grade 12. However, masks will remain optional but recommended for kindergarten students.
In the 26 page plan, the government says school boards must have plans for potential closures so all students can pivot to remote learning.
Protective strategies for students include self-screening every day before attending school.
Any student or staff experiencing COVID-19 symptoms must stay home from school.
School boards may be required to perform daily onsite screening during higher transmission periods ie: after a holiday period.
Students are expected to remain in one cohort for the full day, with one teacher, where possible. Libraries and common spaces are able to be used by students this year.
Students can mix with other cohorts inside schools, provided distancing and masking protocols are in place. Outside, students are allowed to mix cohorts provided social distancing policies of at least two metres are followed.
Students will resume with two courses at a time for the fall semester.
Some school boards can implement a modified term; exceptions may be made for small schools where contact can be limited by cohorting grades.
Masks, PPE, social distancing and other regulations
Masks must be worn inside the school, during classes and on school vehicles.
Masks are not required outdoors, but social distancing is encouraged.
Masks may be taken off to eat or drink or engage in low-contact physical activity.
School staff will continue to be provided with and wear PPE.
Staff are not required to wear masks outdoors or when eating and drinking, provided they can maintain a distance of two meters.
Hand hygiene continues to be important in schools staff are encouraged to reinforce the use of soap or alcohol-based hand rubs.
Social distancing remains a priority, and schools are encouraged to distance desks, facing forward and remove unnecessary furniture.
Congregating in hallways is also discouraged, with student movement being staggered.
Food programs, Assemblies, visitors and extracurriculars
Third-party food programs may return to schools.
Assemblies and other school gatherings are permitted as long as they align with the provincial capacity limits under the Reopening Ontario Act.
Visitors must follow the self-screening guidelines and wear a mask unless individual public health units restrict access.
School vehicles will be permitted to operate at full capacity. However, the province says the capacity on vehicles for elementary students should be reduced when possible.
The seat behind the driver should remain empty, which will help maintain physical distancing between the students and the driver.
The province is encouraging active forms of travel such as walking or cycling when possible to ease the pressure on transportation demand.
Health and Physical Education
The use of gymnasiums, swimming pools, weight rooms., indoor physical education equipment and shared outdoor equipment will be permitted for both elementary and secondary students as long as physical distancing is possible.
Overnight and day trips will be permitted and should follow provincial reopening guidelines.
Students should be cohorted throughout the trips with the number of cohorts based on the number of students and staff.
Daily records for those entering the program setting will be required to maintain proper contact tracing.
Extracurricular activities and inter-school sports activities
Extracurricular activities such as sports teams, clubs and bands (excluding wind instruments) will be permitted.
High-contact activities are only permitted outdoors, and masking will not be required. Low contact activities will also be permitted for outdoor inter-school sports with no masking.
Low contact activities are permitted indoors. Masking will be encouraged but will not be required for low-contact physical activities if physical distancing can be maintained between individuals who are not part of the same cohort.
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