News

From Masks to Cohorting, a Guide to Back-to-School Rules Across the Country

Plans are being made across the country for how to safely send students back to school in the fall as the COVID−19 pandemic continues.

Here is a look at what the various provinces have said about getting kids back to classes.

British Columbia

British Columbia has laid out its plan for studies to resume in “learning groups” this fall. School districts are to post final back−to−school details online by August 26.

Back to class: Schools were initially scheduled to welcome students back full time on September 8, but the province announced it is pushing back the restart date by two days to September 10.

Groups: Students will be sorted into learning groups to reduce the number of people they come in contact with. For elementary and middle school students, groups will be no larger than 60 people. Secondary school groups will be capped at 120.

Physical distancing: Students and staff dont need to maintain physical distancing within their learning group, but contact should be minimized. Outside the group, physical distancing is required. Students should be more spaced out in classrooms.

Masks: Students and staff will not be required to wear masks in schools, but the province says its a “personal choice that will always be respected.” It says provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry recommends non−medical masks be worn by adults and older students when they are unable to physically distance like in hallways and on buses.

New routines: The province is urging schools to stagger recess, lunch, and class transition times and take students outside whenever possible.

Transportation: Middle and high school students are asked to wear masks on buses. Students should be assigned seats, and a transparent barrier may be used to separate the driver.

Alberta

The province is planning to fully reopen schools from kindergarten to Grade 12 this fall. Measures will be tightened if an outbreak occurs and class sizes could be reduced to 20.

Back to class: School will be back in session with extra safety measures, but the province says there are programs to support remote and alternative learning.

Groups: Schools should sort students into cohorts by class when possible to minimize contact with others.

Physical distancing: Physical distancing is recommended when possible. Rooms should be rearranged to increase space between desks.

Masks: Masks will be mandatory for staff and many students in some school settings. Students in Grades 4 to 12 must wear masks in all common areas, such as hallways and on buses. Staff are required to wear masks whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained. Mask use will be optional for kids in kindergarten through Grade 3. The government says all students and staff will receive two reusable masks as part of the policy.

Transportation: Parents are asked to bring their children to school if they can. Students who take the bus will sit in the same seat every day.

New routines: Schools are advised to consider a “no sharing policy,” with each student bringing their own supplies. Class, lunch, and recess schedules will be staggered.

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan first unveiled a set of back−to−school guidelines in June, but released more details August 4.

Back to class: Students will return to class as early as September 1.

Groups: Groups of students and staff members assigned to them should stick together throughout the day and try not to mingle with other groups. Schools should aim to minimize the number of different instructors who interact with students throughout the day.

Physical distancing: Officials say maintaining physical distance is “less practical” for younger children, and the focus should be on limiting physical contact. Officials suggest limiting hugs and hand holding and suggest using alternative greetings such as air high fives. Schools are also to have dedicated quarantine areas where symptomatic students can go before they are picked up by parents.

Masks: The province says its up to school boards to decide whether to make masks mandatory for students and staff. The chief medical health officer advises Grade 4 to 12 students should wear them in busy areas such as hallways and on buses.

Transportation: Parents should take their kids to school when possible, and pickup and drop−offs should happen outside. Students using school transportation should be assigned seats, and a partition may be used to separate the driver.

New routines: Start times, recess, lunch, and class transitions may be staggered to allow for more space for physical distancing. Schools should rearrange their classrooms to space out students. Students and staff are asked to bring hand sanitizer.

Manitoba

The Manitoba government says students are going back to the classroom on September 8 with new guidelines.

Back to class: All students from kindergarten to Grade 8 are to have in−class instruction five days a week. High school students will also be in class full time, however, there may be some days of remote learning.

Groups: When physical distancing isnt possible, students will have to be organized into cohorts of no more than 75, and minimize contact with others. In these cases, there must be at least one metre between their desks.

Physical distancing: The province says students are required to maintain a two−metre distance to “the greatest extent possible.” When it isnt possible, physical barriers may be an option. Spaces should be arranged to encourage separation.

Masks: Masks are strongly recommended for students in Grades 5 to 12. They are required when taking the bus.

Transportation: Masks are required for students Grade 5 and up, as well as drivers, on buses. Parents are encouraged to transport their children to school if they can.

New routines: Lunch and recess are to be staggered to minimize congestion, and in many cases teachers will change classrooms instead of students.

Ontario

Ontario students will be back in class September, but their schedules and class sizes may vary depending on where they live.

Back to class: Elementary students and many high schoolers will be in school five days a week in standard class sizes. However, secondary students at two dozen boards that are higher risk will only attend class half the time, and will spend the rest of the week working on “curriculum−linked independent work.” Parents will also have the option to keep their kids out of class, and boards must provide options for remote learning.

Groups: For high schoolers in high−risk districts, class sizes will be capped at 15. Meanwhile, elementary students wont be broken up into smaller groups, but will be grouped into cohorts and their exposure to different teachers will be limited.

Physical distancing: While Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the aim is to keep students one metre apart from each other, a guidance document says only that schools should promote “as much distancing as possible” rather than being strictly enforced.

Masks: Masks will be mandatory for students in Grades 4 through 12, and will be strongly encouraged for younger kids when theyre in indoor common areas. Staff will be expected to wear masks.

Transportation: Some school boards may have more than one student assigned to a seat. When physical distancing isnt possible, masks will be mandatory for students in Grades 4 to 12, and younger students will be encouraged but not required to do the same.

New routines: Students in some districts will have to pre−register for in−person schooling. Some schools may limit or even ban visitors, including parents. Breaks will be scheduled to allow students to wash their hands.

Quebec

All elementary and high school students in Quebec will be required to attend class in September unless they have a doctors note indicating theyre at high risk of COVID−19 complications or they live with someone at risk. Those students will be allowed to study remotely.

Back to class: Class attendance is mandatory for elementary and high school students. For Grades 10 and 11, schools have the option of alternating schedules where students attend one day out of every two—as long as schools cannot maintain stable classroom bubbles. Grade 10 and 11 students are encouraged to attend classes as much as possible.

Groups: Each classroom will be its own bubble and students will not be required to maintain a two−metre distance between classmates.

Physical distancing: Students will need to keep a two−metre distance from all school staff, as well as all other students outside their classroom bubble. There are no physical distancing requirements for children or teachers in pre−school.

Masks: All students in Grade 5 and up—as well as all school staff—must wear a mask inside all common areas of the school except the classroom. Masks can also be removed when students are eating.

Transportation: No more than 48 students will be allowed on a school bus, with no more than two students sitting on the same bench. Preschool and elementary school students are strongly encouraged to wear masks, while older students are required to wear them.

New routines: When schools return in the fall, teachers will move from classroom to classroom, but students will stay put.

Backup plans: In the event of an outbreak in one class, the entire classroom bubble will be sent home to continue studies remotely. Authorities are also putting together an emergency protocol in the event of a second wave to ensure instruction continues online if entire schools are again forced to close. Ideas include quickly distributing tablets or laptops to students needing them and establishing a digital platform to continue courses and maintain communication.

New Brunswick

The province has outlined a set of requirements schools must follow in developing their plans for the fall.

Back to class: Students in kindergarten to Grade 8 are to attend school full time, while those in Grades 9 to 12 are to be taught using a combination of in−class and remote instruction. At−home course work can include online learning, guided projects, and experiential education.

Groups: For kindergarten through Grade 2, group sizes will be reduced to about 15, wherever possible. Group sizes should also be shrunk for Grades 3 to 5. Grades 6 to 8 will resume at regular class sizes. Students in Grades 9 to 12 will not be grouped because of their schedules and course options.

Physical distance: Grade 9 to 12 classrooms are required to maintain a one−metre distance, while a two−metre distance is recommended in common areas at all grade levels.

Masks: All students will be required to bring a mask to school, but masks will not be mandatory inside the classroom. Students in Grade 6−12 must wear masks on the school bus and in common areas of school buildings, while children in kindergarten to Grade 5 are encouraged to do so. Teachers for kindergarten to Grade 8 can choose whether they want to wear a mask or shield in the classroom while teachers for Grades 9−12 will be required to wear one when they cannot physically distance from students.

Transportation: Curtains will be installed inside school buses to separate drivers from students. If physical distancing is not possible, drivers will be required to wear a mask or face shield. Students must sit in the same seat every day. Students in kindergarten to Grade 5 will sit alone or with a member of their household. Students in Grades 6−12 wearing masks will sit two to a seat, and if they are sitting alone or with a member of their household, they do not have to wear a mask.

New routines: Arrivals, breaks, and lunches are to be staggered. Public access to school buildings will be limited, and students, staff, and visitors may also be subject to screening. High school students will be expected to have their own laptop or similar device, and some subsidies will be available. Drinking fountains will be replaced with water bottle−filling stations.

Prince Edward Island

Schools on the Island are preparing to welcome all students back to class, while drafting backup plans for remote studies if required.

Back to class: Schools are to reopen for teachers and staff on September 1 and for students on September 8.

Groups: Students will be organized into cohorts when possible and limit their exposure to others.

Physical distancing: Students will be taught about the importance of physical distancing, and extra teaching and cleaning staff may be hired. Schools are also asked to reduce class sizes as much as possible, reconfigure classrooms and make use of spaces such as libraries and multipurpose rooms.

Masks: The province says all staff and students in Grades 7−12 are “strongly recommended” to wear masks when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Students from kindergarten through Grade 6 may wear masks when physical distancing is impossible. Staff interacting with children who have complex medical needs are strongly recommended to wear face shields and gloves.

Transportation: Parents are asked to take their kids to school whenever possible. To reduce the number of riders on buses, schools may add vehicles and routes or implement walk−to−school programs. It is strongly recommended that all students and drivers wear masks on the bus.

New routines: P.E.I. education authorities are revising curricula for this school year to make up for learning gaps caused by lockdown constraints. Schools will stagger schedules to minimize congestion. The provincial school food program will be expanded next year in keeping with public health precautions. Elementary school students will stay in their classrooms for lunch.

Nova Scotia

Education Minister Zach Churchill says the provinces objective is for schools to return to 100 percent capacity in the fall, but its plan includes measures to address the possible onset of a second wave of COVID−19.

Back to class: The province aims to have all elementary and high school students in classrooms by September 8.

Groups: Students will be asked to keep to cohorts.

Physical distancing: Students and staff will be encouraged to maintain a two−metre distance whenever possible. Lecture rooms will be reorganized to increase space between desks.

Masks: All students in grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear a mask inside schools except when seated at desks that are two metres apart and facing the same direction. Masks must be worn in hallways and other common areas if a two−metre distance cannot be maintained. All students and staff will receive two free cloth masks. Disposable masks will be available if a student loses theirs or comes to school without one.

Transportation: Students who take the school bus will be required to wear non−medical masks.

New routines: Only students and staff will be permitted to enter school buildings. When possible, teachers will be asked to move their classes outdoors. Students will be asked to bring their own computers to school, and the province saysRead More – Source

Show More

Related Articles