Ontario's plan to reopen schools in Ottawa and eastern Ontario
OTTAWA -- Elementary students in Ottawa and eastern Ontario will be in class full-time in September,
Meantime, Ontario's plan to reopen schools this fall will see students at all Ottawa high schools alternating between online and in-class attendance this fall. Students at high schools outside of Ottawa will be in class full-time in September.
Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce unveiled the Ontario Government's plan to reopen schools in September during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ontario's two million students have been out of class since mid-March.
Non-medical masks will be mandatory for students in Grade 4 to Grade 12. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be encouraged to wear masks in common spaces, but will not be required.
Medical masks will be provided for teachers and all other school staff.
Inside schools, there will be one-way hallways and signs promoting hand hygiene and physical distancing.
"I guess cautious optimism mixed with cynicism," said parent Mark Chapeskie. "The fact they’re going back full time, sure from a strictly logistical perspective, that makes sense," he said. "I think there are challenges that the boards are going to have to work out so I’ll be interested to see what the boards have to say about how they’re going to figure out some of those cohort challenges particularly in the elementary grades."
NDP Education Critic Marit Stiles said returning students to full classrooms in the middle of a pandemic is dangerous.
"I’m very concerned that we’re basically sending our children out there in some kind of risky experiment," Stiles said.
Elementary school students in Kindergarten through Grade 8 will return to school five days per week across Ottawa and eastern Ontario for a full day.
Students will be with one cohort for the full day and enhanced health and safety protocols will be in place.
Ontario says all four school boards in Ottawa will offer an adapted model for secondary school students. The model includes class cohorts of approximately 15 students, with 50 per cent of classes online and 50 per cent of instructional days in-class.
The Ontario Government said the following school boards will feature the adapted model in September:
- Ottawa Carleton District School Board
- Ottawa Catholic School Board
- Conseil des ecoles catholiques du Centre-Est
- Conseil des ecoles publiques de l'Est de l'Ontario
Secondary schools with daily attendance
The Ontario Government says the following school boards in eastern Ontario can have secondary students in class five days a week.
- Renfrew County District School Board
- Renfrew County Catholic School Board
- Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario
- Upper Canada District School Board
The Ontario Government says parents will continue to have the option to enroll their children in remote online learning.
Ontario is spending $300 million on several initiatives, including:
- $60 million in procurement of medical and cloth masks for students and staff
- $30 million for teacher staffing to support supervision, keeping classes small and other safety related measures
- $50 million to hire up to 500 additional school-focused nurses in public health units to provide rapid-response support to schools and boards
- $23 million to provide testing capacity to keep schools safe
- $75 million to hire over 900 additional custodians and purchase cleaning supplies for schools
- $40 million to clean school buses
- $10 million to support student mental health
With files from CTV News Toronto multi-platform writer Sean Davidson