It was announced by Premier Doug Ford that students will be heading back to school on September 3rd.

“The priority of Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board is the safety and well-being of students, families and staff, particularly as we prepare for the return to school in September,” Communications Manager for the school board Kerry Donnell says. “We know that the first day of school will be filled with a combination of excitement and anxiety due to COVID-19 combined with the length of time students have been away from school.”

Director of Education Sean Monteith says that staff are working closely with the Hastings-Prince Edward Public Health, Tri-Board Transportation, neighbouring school boards along with other community partners to ensure everyone is kept safe when they do return to school.

“We realize that the decision to send children to school is an incredibly difficult one,” Monteith says. “To prepare our schools to be as best and responsive as possible, we will be contacting families in the days ahead to get an idea of parent intentions.”

Specifics of the Ministry of Education back-to-school plan for elementary school students includes:

  • Elementary schools will reopen with conventional in-person delivery of teaching and instruction, with enhanced health and safety protocols.
  • Elementary school students in kindergarten to grade eight will attend school five days per week, with 300 minutes of instruction per day, remaining in one cohort (learning group) for the full day, including recess and lunch.
  • Cohorted classes will stay together and with one teacher, where possible. Students can expect to see changes in the timing of recesses, lunches, and bathroom breaks as they are staggered to support cohorting.
  • Specialized teachers, like French teachers, will still be able to go into classrooms to provide the full breadth of programming for students.
  • Students will also be able to leave their classrooms to receive additional supports but direct and indirect contacts in schools for students should be limited to approximately 50.
  • School boards will provide the full range of elementary curriculum, including the new grades one to eight mathematics curriculum.

For high school students:

  • All school boards are encouraged to adopt timetabling methods that emphasize cohorting (learning group) of students as much as possible, to limit the number of student-to-student contacts.
  • In order to reduce risk of transmission and to support contact tracing, school boards are to develop timetables that over a one to two-week period:
    • limit indirect and direct student contacts to approximately 100 students in the school; and
    • are encouraged to keep secondary school students in a maximum of two in-person class cohorts.
  • Secondary schools in non-designated school boards will be permitted to open with conventional delivery, with enhanced health and safety protocols.

The Ministry’s plan also includes enhanced safety measures. Students in grades four through 12 will be requested to wear non-medical or cloth masks while in school. For students in kindergarten to grade three, they will be encouraged but not required to wear masks. Teachers and all other school staff will have masks provided to them.

The Ministry of Education says a new monitoring system will also be put in place:

  • A new school health monitoring system will be established through a partnership between the ministries of Health and Education, school boards and local public health to monitor and respond to reports of COVID-19 symptoms. Students or staff who develop COVID-19 symptoms will immediately be separated from others.
  • Staff and parents/guardians will be directed to consult their health provider and will be provided with COVID-19 testing locations. Persons who test positive may not return to school until they are cleared by public health. Persons who test negative can return one they are symptom-free for 24 hours.
  • Schools will immediately report any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19.
  • Schools will ensure records of classes, transported students and visitors are maintained and readily available to be provided to public health for contact tracing.
  • School staff will receive training on required processes and procedures.
  • The ministries of Education and Health are working together to provide testing capacity to keep schools safe and treat any affected student or teacher/staff member.

Hastings-Prince Edward District School Board says more information will be released on the back-to-school plan in the coming days.