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Today, the Minister of Education announced reopening plans for schools across Ontario, beginning in September 2020.
In Peel Region:
- Elementary students (Kindergarten to Grade 8) will attend school in-person 5 days per week. Students will remain in one cohort group to limit interactions with other students, including lunch and recess.
- Secondary students (Grade 9 to 12) will receive a mix of in-person and distance learning instruction. They will attend school on an adapted schedule, with class cohorts of up to 15 students, attending on alternate days, or alternate schedules that would represent in-person attendance for at least 50% of instructional days.
- Secondary students with a high level of special education needs, who are unable to study from home, will be permitted daily attendance and instruction. See our previous communication for plans related to students in Special Education classes.
All families will have the option to opt out of in-person learning and choose only distance learning (at-home, virtual learning) for their child(ren). Please note that if students do not attend in person, they are expected to learn from home, i.e. remotely.
Although we have been directed into a partial return in secondary and a full return in elementary, this does not mean it will be business as usual. We recognize that these continue to be challenging and concerning times for many students and families, as well as for Peel board staff. As we enter the 2020-21 school year, we are committed to providing safe and equitable places to learn and work, with the success and well-being of students and staff as a focus of all we do.
Over the next week or so, we will review our Reopening Plans to ensure they align with today’s Ministry announcement. We will also be ready to adapt and be flexible with our school plans as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves. All Reopening Plans will include enhanced health and safety protocols, based on recommendations from public health agencies. The Ministry-approved and Peel Public Health-reviewed Reopening Plans will be shared with staff, students and families in mid-August.
What can we expect when schools reopen to students on Sept. 8, 2020?
The Reopening Plans will be made available at www.peelschools.org/reopening and will include detailed information on:
- enhanced health and safety measures, including screening and self-assessment, hand hygiene, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks, cohorting (i.e. grouping students and staff), physical distancing, sharing of classroom materials and room set-up
- protocols for cleaning high-touch surfaces, student classrooms/portables, washrooms, equipment, etc., as well as cleaning between cohort use in secondary
- mental health supports and resources
- in-class and distance learning expectations, including subject-specific considerations
- assessment, evaluation and reporting
- supports for students with Special Education needs and the impact on programming, including the use of sensory equipment, Plans of Care and working with community partners
- arrival/departure, entry/exit and Main Office protocols
- lunch and nutrition breaks
- extracurricular activities and field trips
- mental health supports and resources
- technology supports
- transportation, including loading/unloading protocols, vehicle cleaning and route planning
- full-time, before- and after-school child care
- Adult and Continuing Education, including, but not limited to, impacts on credit/pre-credit programs, Night School, International Languages, alternative programs, Co-Operative Education, Dual Credit and Specialist High Skills Major programs
How will families confirm their child(ren)’s participation in distance or in-person learning?
The Ministry of Education is allowing students to opt out of in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students who choose this option will only receive instruction at home through distance learning, but families will be able to choose in-person at another point in the school year.
This instruction will be delivered by Peel board educators, but not necessarily by staff assigned to a particular school or class. Students will receive both synchronous, i.e. live, online instruction, and asynchronous instruction where they spend time learning independently from home.
Soon, you will receive an email from the Peel board that asks you to pre-register your child(ren) for in-person or distance learning. These forms will be sent to each student’s Peel board-issued Google account—the same account that Report Cards were sent to in June. Please complete and submit one form per child by Noon on Aug. 14, 2020, so that we are able to plan for everyone’s safe return. Families who are new to Peel will also receive an email with instructions on how to pre-register.
To help families make an informed decision, more information about distance learning and in-class instruction will be provided in our email that asks you to pre-register.
Also, if your child is eligible for transportation and they will not be using board-provided transportation in 2020-21, please complete this Student Transportation of Peel Region Opt-out Form at your earliest convenience. Note, if you opt out, your child will not receive transportation for the full 2020-21 school year.
Can families change their minds?
The Ministry of Education has indicated that boards will need to determine at what point students will be able to transition from distance learning to in-person learning should they choose to do so. This information will be provided to families when they choose which model their child(ren) will participate in using the pre-registration form mentioned above.
Will staff and students be required to wear masks? What other safety measures will be in place?
Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be encouraged, but not required, to wear masks in indoor spaces. Students in Grade 4 to 12 will be required to wear non-medical or cloth masks while indoors in school, including in hallways and during classes. Reasonable exceptions on the requirement to wear masks will apply.
All school-based staff will be required to wear masks, with reasonable exceptions for medical conditions. Medical masks and eye protection (i.e. face shields) will be provided for all teachers and other school board staff. School-based staff who are regularly in close contact with students will be provided with all appropriate personal protective equipment.
Other enhanced safety measures will include:
- enhanced cleaning
- protocols for screening and self-assessment
- isolation protocols if students or staff present with symptoms at school
- increased hand hygiene – Hand sanitizer will be available at all school entrances and in every classroom, including in gymnasiums. Before entering the school, students, staff and all visitors must wash or sanitize their hands.
- cohorting (grouping students and staff to limit and track interactions)
- physical distancing measures (e.g. revised room set-up, limited sharing of classroom materials)
- additional health and safety training provided for educators, as well as occasional and support staff
The Ministry is also working with public health officials to ensure a supply of public health nurses to assist schools across the province, including assistance with screening of potential cases of COVID-19.
More information about these protocols, which are a key focus of our Reopening Plans, will be provided in mid-August.
What will students’ schedules/timetables look like?
Elementary – in-person option
Elementary students whose families choose the in-person option will return to full-time, in-person learning at school, and will attend every day.
Elementary – distance learning option
Elementary students who sign up for the distance learning option will be engaged in remote learning from home.
Secondary – in-person option
Students will attend in person on alternate days/weeks and participate in distance learning when not physically attending. Again, secondary students with a high level of special education needs, who are unable to study from home, will be permitted daily attendance and instruction. See our previous communication for plans related to students in Special Education classes.
Within each classroom, cohorts will be limited to approximately 15 students to reduce the number of interactions with different individuals. To help with this, all secondary schools will follow a quadmester model. This will impact schools with four and five periods.
Rather than rotating through five periods through the school day, students will focus on two courses over a quadmester. Two quadmesters make up a traditional semester, resulting in four quadmesters total in a school year. See sample chart below. Note: These schedules are NOT CONFIRMED. Student schedules and cohort details will be provided by Aug. 28, 2020. Given the ever-evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, timelines may change.
For example, students in Cohort A below would have Mathematics on Mondays, and History on Tuesdays, and switch between Math and History on alternating Wednesdays.
More will be shared about quadmestering and timetabling in our Reopening Plans.
Secondary – distance learning option
Secondary students who sign up for the distance learning option will be engaged in remote learning from home.
Secondary school schedule(s) should be available by Aug. 28, 2020, and will include cohort details and clearly outline the dates students will attend school. Secondary timetables that list the courses to be taken will be available as of Sept. 4, 2020. Given the ever-evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, timelines for distributing this information may change.
Mental health and well-being supports
Our goal continues to be to support every learner equitably, with a focus on safety and well-being. We understand the difficult circumstances in which many of our students, staff and families continue to find themselves, and we will proceed with care and compassion, whether students attend in person or learn from home.
To help with this, we are currently developing mental health and well-being supports and resources for students, staff and families, in consultation with child and youth mental health agencies. In the meantime, please review this resource for a comprehensive list of supports available in the community, including mental health, food, financial and shelter information.
We understand that during these unprecedented times, many of you will have questions about what the reopening of schools will look like. We are committed to provide updates to you as soon as possible, while still ensuring we are carefully following direction from the Ministry of Education, Peel Public Health and other public health agencies.
As we work towards reopening, we will prioritize the safety, health and well-being of staff and students. Thank you for your ongoing patience and understanding as we carefully plan for reopening, working within government direction and public health recommendations.
Jaspal Gill Bruce Rodrigues
Interim Director of Education Peel District School Board Supervisor