It has been just over three months now since Ontario declared a state of emergency and school learning was moved online. The situation is looking better now as we move into Phase 2 of the province’s plan to re-open (transition back to normal) over the next year. The district will continue to follow direction from Ottawa Public Health in making its decisions on the opening of schools.
Students across the province hope to start the new school year back in the classroom. The provincial government has asked all school boards to prepare for 3 scenarios for learning in the fall and for the duration of the school year:
Depending on the circumstances:
Students could return to the classroom with some precautions still in place;
Students could return to school gradually with some learning taking place online and some taking place in the classroom;
A return to virtual learning in the event of a second wave of the virus.
The school district will be providing detailed information in July or August on how schools might open up in September. It is most likely that schools will gradually open in the fall with part of the time spent learning in the classroom and part of the time spent learning online. If the number of Covid-19 cases continues to decrease, normal classroom learning would likely resume. However, if there is a second wave and the number of cases increase during the semester, virtual online learning might return on a full time basis if that is the direction from Ottawa Public Health.
All students and parents will need to be prepared for these various scenarios in the fall. For international students, there are additional considerations. At the moment, the federal government has a travel ban in place that may not be lifted before the beginning of school. If the travel ban stays in place, new international students will be able to:
Obtain a full tuition refund less a $200.00 application fee if the student cancels before arrival;
Defer their start date to February 1st, 2021 or September 1, 2021.
Returning students who are unable to come back to Ottawa due to the travel ban would be able to:
Obtain a full refund of their tuition fees;
Defer their return until Feb 1, 2021 if the situation allows;
Defer their return until September 1, 2021.
Schools will only be able to provide online learning to students who are in Ottawa because these classes will likely include in class learning as well; however, there will be some e-learning courses available through the district and the Ontario Elearning Consortium (OELC) in September. For students who are interested, more details will be made available in August. Learning online can be quite challenging for some students, especially for those who are just beginning to communicate in English and who are living in a different time zone. Parents and students should carefully consider the challenges that learning online creates before registering in elearning courses.
Should the travel ban be lifted and students are able to fly to Ottawa for the beginning of the school year, students must be prepared to self-isolate for 14 days. Our homestay provider, Canada Homestay Network, is identifying families that are willing to quarantine students and will be preparing a list of instructions that students and families will need to follow prior to departure and upon arrival in Canada. Students making their own accommodation arrangements will need to follow the quarantine measures put in place by the government. All travellers to Canada must download and complete the Canadian government’s ArriveCan application for approval prior to their arrival on a paper form, web-based form or using an electronic App (available for iPhone and Android).
We realize, in this uncertain time that students may want to delay their overseas study experience to a time when they will be able to fully integrate and immerse themselves in school and the community. Study in Canada next year will likely be very different from a regular school year due to the COVID-19 virus. Students should expect that classroom and extracurricular activities will be limited due to social distancing and other safety measures that might be put in place to help protect students and staff from any spread of the virus. Please note that there will be no change in the tuition fees or the refund policy once a student has begun classes in September.
There are many questions which will need to be answered in the coming weeks. We plan to provide details to parents and students as they become available. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at [email protected].