Ontario government outlines options for return to school in September

Napanee's Southview Public School. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

Adam Prudhomme

On Friday the Ontario government outlined three different scenarios for how students, teachers and staff could potentially return to classrooms in September.

Speaking at a press conference in Toronto, Ontario Premier Doug Ford spoke of the options, telling school boards to plan for all three and be ready to implement each one depending on the public health situation in their region.

The first option is a normal school day routine with enhanced public health protocols in a standard class size format. The second option is a modified school day routine with a limit of 15 students in a classroom at one time with a single teacher for as much as the day as possible-students would alternate each day or each week going to the school. The third option is at home, remote learning.

“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 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.”

Ford also announced the province is investing an additional $736 million into public education for the upcoming school year, a total of $25.5 billion, which they say is the largest investment in public education in Ontario’s history. The Ministry of Education says they are working on a partnership with school boards to deliver high-speed Internet to all schools in Ontario, with high schools having access to broadband by September and all elementary schools having access by September 2021.

A final decision on what a return to school might look like isn’t expected to be announced until early August.

“We know you have many questions about what this will all mean for students, families and staff,” said Debra Rantz, director of education for the Limestone District School Board in a message posted to the Board’s website. “We ask for your continued patience while we work through the complex planning required to ensure the safety of everyone in our school communities. The Limestone District School Board has been working on various contingency plans for a while now and these guidelines from the government will help us formalize our plans. There may also be an opportunity for us to implement a regional model, based on direction and guidance from KFL&A Public Health, that could differ from other school districts in the province.”

Rantz added she looks forward to seeing what the funding announcements will mean for Limestone in the coming weeks.

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