Back To School Decision Made But Details Still To Come.

The Ontario Government has announced it’s plan that all publicly funded schools in the province will reopen this fall for a full-time return of students to the classroom. There will be enhanced cleaning and health and safety protocols. Parents will also have the option to keep their kids out of class, and boards must provide options for remote learning.

Here’s what the Grand Erie District School Board had to say on their website when the announcement was made:

Today, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced that all publicly funded schools in the province will reopen this fall for students to return to the classroom. This decision will be paired with enhanced cleaning and health and safety protocols due to COVID-19.

For Grand Erie elementary and secondary students, this means that when the 2020-21 school year begins on Tuesday, September 8, they will be taking part in full-time, in-class learning, Monday through Friday.

Grand Erie’s enhanced cleaning protocols will include an emphasis on touch points, common areas and common objects. Health and safety protocols will focus on making time for regular handwashing. Where handwashing is not available, hand sanitizer will be used. Directional signage will be placed to assist with physical distancing requirements, and schools will consider staggering nutrition, lunch and recess breaks.

The Province is mandating non-medical cloth masks for all students in Grades 4-12, while encouraging the use of non-medical cloth masks for students in Kindergarten through Grade 3. The Province will be providing medical masks for teachers and school staff.

Grand Erie families will be required to keep students at home when sick, or when exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. School visitors will also be extremely limited. The board is working on a protocol with both the Brant County Health Unit and the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit should there be a COVID-19 outbreak in any school or board site.

“The safety and well-being of students and staff remains our highest priority,” said Brenda Blancher, Director of Education. “Recognizing that it’s now been nearly six months since we’ve been in the classroom together, Grand Erie will have social and emotional supports available for students in the fall as we know this will be a challenging time for all.”

Families new to Grand Erie are asked to register students by no later than August 13. Parents who wish to keep their children at home in September are required to contact the board at by no later than August 23.

Grand Erie District School Board represents more than 26,000 students in 58 elementary and 14 secondary schools within the City of Brantford and the counties of Brant, Haldimand, and Norfolk, as well as secondary students from Six Nations of the Grand River and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

The Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk Catholic District School Board chair of the Board, Rick Patrella offered this message:

Dear Parents, Families, and Staff, I am pleased to share with all of you today; that the Ministry of Education has announced their decision on which scenario they are mandating school boards across the province to follow when re-opening in September.

Boards have been directed to reopen schools under the ‘normal school day routine’ (everyday attendance) with enhanced public health protocols. All students will return to school beginning September 8, 2020.

Other important re-opening information from the Ministry:
• Students Grades JK – 3 are encouraged, but not required to wear cloth masks.
• All students, Grades 4 – 12 are required to wear cloth mask*.
• Medical masks and face shields will be provided to all educators.
• Medical masks will be provided to all other school and board staff.
• Physical distancing (one metre between students) will be practiced where possible.

The Ministry also announced that funding will be provided to boards for cleaning, screening and other health and safety measures.

As a parent, I am pleased that a decision has been made, and with this clarity provided by the Ministry of Education, we can finalize the implementation of our opening plan to include the new guidelines set out by the Ministry.

Although some may feel uncertainty around some of the elements of the Provincial government’s direction, please know that Public Health Ontario has established protocols that that will be part of the plan that the Board will follow and implement.

Our Board continues to meet regularly with our local public health officials to ensure that the concerns of our students, staff, and parent are raised, and that our schools are as safe as possible for everyone.

Our final “Return to School Plan” that includes items such as bussing, suspected Covid-19 cases, outbreak protocols, and other critical items will be brought forward to the Board of Trustees at a Special Meeting of the Board on Monday, August 10, 2020 for final approval. Once that part of the process is complete, the Board will release all details to families and the community shortly thereafter.

I want to thank you again for your patience and understanding during these challenging times.

God bless,
Rick Petrella, Chair of the Board

Both boards have indicated that more plans are still required and hopefully will be released before parents are required to make their final decisions about whether or not to send their children back to the classroom.

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