Ontario’s School Safety & Reopening Plan Released

Friday June 19th, 2020

Posted at 1:40pm

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The Ontario government has released its safety plan for the resumption of class for the 2020-21 school year.

The plan outlines scenarios for how students, teachers and staff can return to classrooms in September.  Provincial officials say the plan also provides choice to parents, enhances online learning, and provides additional funding for schools.

“Nothing is more important than protecting our kids in this province. Parents expect us to take every precaution to keep their children safe when they go back to school in September – and that’s exactly what we’re delivering today,” said Premier Ford. “This plan takes the best medical advice available from our public heath experts to ensure every school board and every school is ready to ensure students continue learning in the safest way possible.”

Ontario’s plan gives parents the option of sending their children for in-class instruction or to participate in online learning. The province says school boards will be asked to plan for the following three scenarios to be implemented in September, depending on the public health situation at the time:

  1. Normal school day routine with enhanced public health protocols – Students going to school every day, in classes that reflect standard class size regulations.
  2. Modified school day routine – Based on public health advice, an adapted delivery model has been designed to allow for physical distancing and cohorts of students. Under this model, school boards are asked to maintain a limit of 15 students in a typical classroom at one time and adopt timetabling that would allow for students to remain in contact only with their classmates and a single teacher for as much of the school day as possible. This model would require alternate day or alternate week delivery to a segment of the class at one time.
  3. At home learning – Should the school closure be extended, or some parents choose not to send their child back to school, school boards need to be prepared to offer remote education. Remote education should be delivered online to the greatest extent possible, including the establishment of minimum expectations for students to have direct contact with their teacher at the same time on a regular basis, also known as synchronous learning. Synchronous learning can be used as part of whole class instruction, in smaller groups of students, and/or in a one-on-one context.

The government is instructing school boards to be prepared with a plan, should it be required, that includes an adapted delivery model, which could include alternate day or alternate week attendance, staggered bell times and recess, and different transportation arrangements, among a variety of other considerations to ensure the safety of students and staff.

“We are taking every precaution, investing more, and listening to the best medical advice in the country to keep students, staff, and families safe,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce. “I want to assure parents safety is our guiding principle and the right supports are being put in place to ensure our students are set up for success. I am grateful to Ontario students, education staff, and communities for stepping up during this difficult period.”

The government says key elements of the safety plan include:

  • guidance for developing health and safety protocols, including the use of personal protective equipment;
  • expectations of an in-class school environment;
  • professional development training for teachers on the new protocols and directions;
  • supports for students with special education needs;
  • enhanced mental health and well-being supports;
  • proposals on how educators and students can move fluidly between in-class and remote learning;
  • guidelines to help schools and boards in their communications with students and parents;
  • guidelines for student transportation systems;
  • expectations for the delivery of curriculum and assessment across subjects and grades;
  • guidance for working with First Nations students, parents and communities;
  • regional options for reopening based on the advice of local public health authorities; and
  • a checklist to help boards in their reopening planning.

The government also announced $4 million in net new funding for cleaning, cleaning protocols, and financial support to hire additional custodial staff in September to ensure schools are safe.

The complete reopening plan can be read on the province’s website.

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