July 30th, 2020
Today, the Premier of Ontario and Minister of Education announced that elementary students will return to schools full-time and secondary students will return in a hybrid model this September, with enhanced health and safety protocols in place.
We know that as parents and caregivers, you will have questions about your children returning to school. We have been working with our stakeholders to prepare and to safely welcome your children back into our classrooms and schools.
Our back-to-school plans are comprehensive, focused on human rights and equity, health, safety and the well-being of all of our students. Our plans are supported by the Ministry of Education and Region of Waterloo Public Health.
Elementary students will return to school with enhanced safety measures and a maximum of 30 students per class. Students in Grades 4 to 8 will be required to wear non-medical or cloth masks while in school, while students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be encouraged, but not required, to wear masks in common spaces. Bell times and timetables will remain the same as before the COVID-19 pandemic, with 300 minutes of face-to-face teacher instruction. Students will have two, forty-minute nutrition breaks with staggered outdoor breaks and the addition of enhanced health and safety protocols.
Secondary students will return to school in a hybrid model, where students will attend school on alternate days, with at least 50 percent of instruction taking place in-person. All secondary students will be required to wear non-medical or cloth masks while in school. Class sizes would vary depending on grade and level, usually to an average of 15 students, and a staggered lunch block will be implemented to help with the enhanced safety protocols.
The safety of our students and staff is our priority. Our schools and classrooms will look different when we return in September. We will have increased health and safety measures that will include staggered entry and exit of students, enhanced cleaning measures, frequent hand hygiene, and the mandatory use of masks for students in Grades 4 through 12. Staff will be provided with medical-grade masks and face shields.
Appropriate signage will be posted throughout our school sites, plexiglass will be installed in appropriate office spaces, hand sanitizer will be available in classrooms and offices, and our school buses and classrooms will be thoroughly and frequently cleaned. In addition, schools will have designated entrances and exits. Hallways and stairwells will be designated for one-way flow and physical distance reminders, in addition to other safety reminders, will be visible throughout the building.
Since May, our staff have worked hard to make sure that our return to school plans support the physical health and safety of students and staff, as well as their well-being. Our staff are ready to continue the support they have been providing to families during the summer. If your child continues to experience significant worries about leaving home and returning to school, we encourage you to contact your school principal. Principals may refer to the school’s resource mental health professionals (ie., Psychological Consultants and Social Workers) for additional support and help.
More information on return to school plans, including transportation, Extended Day Programs, health and safety protocols and the communication process for positive cases of COVID-19 in schools will be shared before school returns on our website, school websites and social media channels.
Parents/Caregivers will have the choice to send their children to school to engage in face to face learning. A form will be shared with all families next week that will ask families to indicate if their child will participate in face to face learning at school or if they will engage in a fully distanced learning program only.
We are ready and have been looking forward, to welcoming your children, our students, back into our classrooms and schools.