OTTAWA -- Masks will be mandatory for all students, even in JK and kindergarten, and there will be no field trips in September at Ottawa's French Catholic schools this fall.

The Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE) sent out a note Friday ahead of a full-time return to class on Aug. 31, outlining some additional COVID-19 measures in the board's 45 elementary schools and 13 secondary schools.

"As the number of COVID-19 cases increases in the province, mainly due to the Delta variant considered to be more contagious, the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Center-Est (CECCE) must act in the interest of the public health and to take measures that will ensure maximum protection for its school communities," said Director of Education Marc Bertrand in French.

Bertrand said there will be some changes this fall compared to last:

  • educational material can be shared;
  • wearing a mask will no longer be compulsory outside;
  • small gatherings can be held;
  • field trips will be allowed as of October; and
  • libraries and cafeterias can be used.

There will also be additional health and safety measures in place, above and beyond what is required by the Ministry of Education and Ottawa Public Health.

  • Wearing a mask is now compulsory for all students, including those in junior kindergarten and kindergarten;
  • Field trips are not authorized for the month of September;
  • Cohorts should be kept at the elementary level, both inside and outside school;
  • Small gatherings are allowed, but logistics must allow for distancing between cohorts and management must obtain permission from the superintendent beforehand;
  • Wearing a mask is compulsory during singing periods or during choir activities;
  • Wearing a mask is compulsory during indoor sports activities;
  • Only essential visitors (e.g., police, nurses, social workers, contractors) are permitted in schools. Welcome interviews for families will take place in virtual mode;
  • The use of lockers is permitted. Lockers will be allocated to students respecting the groupings.

Under ministry guidelines, masks are required for Grades 1 to 12, but are recommended for kindergarten.

The CECCE will request proof of vaccination from all school staff. Staff who will not be vaccinated will be required to undergo training and perform regular screening tests as mandated by the Ministry of Education.

Classes at some CECCE schools have already resumed. The board says nearly 26,000 students are enrolled for this school year and about 1,200 will be returning to full-time virtual learning.