Simcoe County public board releases its new back to school plan
With just over one week to the start of a new school year, the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) released its back-to-school plan.
"We're very excited to welcome our students back in person on September 7th," said SCDSB's superintendent of education.
Dawn Stevens said both in-class students and those continuing virtual learning would start on the same day with designated doors and staggered entry and exit times.
However, many of the protocols introduced last year will remain in place with the public board, including daily screening for students and staff.
Additionally, students will remain in their cohorts and avoid mixing with other classrooms. Recess will be staggered to limit interaction outside of cohorts, and students will eat in their classrooms.
Plus, students from kindergarten to Grade 12 are required to wear face masks while indoors.
The public school board has added specialized ventilation systems to optimize the air quality in all its schools, as required by the Ministry of Education.
"New this year, we will have stand-alone HEPA filter units placed in classrooms without mechanical ventilation and in all of our kindergarten classrooms," Stevens noted.
There won't be any assemblies or large gatherings, but students will have access to the gym and library once again.
Classroom sizes have not changed.
Parents can not request a teacher who has had the vaccine.
The cafeteria will open this year for high school students, but field trips are currently on hold.
Timetables will be based on a modified semester to reduce the number of students in a cohort.
"Our secondary school students will have a new timetable, so the modified semester will have them having two classes per day and two classes per week," Stevens explained.
School buses will operate much like last year. The regular limit of students on a bus remains in effect, with everyone required to wear a mask.
Cleaning protocols remain in place, along with physical distancing.
The board stated that the Simcoe County Student Transportation Consortium would create a seating plan to keep students from the same family and cohort together where possible.
SCHOOLS HOST POP-UP CLINICS
Seven public schools in Simcoe County will be used for COVID-19 pop-up clinics.
"Georgian Bay District, Barrie North, Banting, Elmvale, Stayner, Bear Creek, Twin Lakes and Nantyr Shores," Stevens said.
The public board said about five per cent of students plan to learn online, down from about 18 per cent last year.
The Catholic board in Simcoe County plans to release its plans next week.