Vaccinations not mandatory — face masks in class & on bus — remote learning will continue

Article by Sue Dickens/Trent Hills Now editor

Students will be returning to local public schools on Sept. 7 with COVID-19 protocols in place requiring students in Grades 1-12 and staff, to wear a face mask in class and while on a school bus with other requirements in effect as well.

The Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board has put together a return-to-school plan outlining the requirements in an online document.

In an online message Board Chair Diane Lloyd and the Director of Education Rita Russo welcomed back students and staff stating, “After many months of challenge and change, we are looking forward to re-engaging in face-to-face learning!”

They noted that the COVID-19 protocols that will continue to be in place this year include daily screening, cohorting (keeping students together in specific groups or classes), masking while indoors and physical distancing.

“We are also pleased to see the gradual return to many of the regular activities that make schools come alive – such as school assemblies, extracurricular activities, sports, clubs, music programs and field trips,” they added.

Their plan for a safe return to school is based on Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health guidelines and the school board will continue to work collaboratively with the four local public health units that cover their school region.

Here is some of the information provided in the KPR document:

Elementary school students in Kindergarten through Grade 8 will attend school five days per week, with 300 minutes of instruction per day, remaining in one cohort as much as possible for the full day. Students may be placed into small groups (for special education support, English-language learning) with students from other cohorts.

Students may use common spaces (e.g., cafeterias, libraries). Different cohorts will be allowed to interact outside with distancing encouraged, or inside with distancing and masking. Specialized education staff and teachers, such as French teachers and education support staff (for example, education assistants) are permitted to go into classrooms and to attend multiple schools to provide the full breadth of programming for students.

Secondary schools will reopen for in-person learning for the full duration of the school day (five instructional hours), with enhanced health and safety protocols.

For the fall semester, school boards have been instructed to timetable students with no more than two courses at a time in case more restrictive measures need to be put in place, based on the public health situation.

Schools will continue to offer virtual learning this year to both elementary and secondary school students.

Health and Safety Measures

Vaccinations, Self-screening and COVID Contact Management

Regarding the policy on vaccination, the board document notes: “Vaccination is an important tool to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and allow students, families, and staff to safely resume normal activities. Vaccination rates may provide opportunities to reduce restrictive measures in schools over time.

“We encourage all eligible students, staff and parents/caregivers to get vaccinated. Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to protect yourself, your child and your family from COVID-19.”

The Ministry of Education is introducing a vaccination disclosure policy for all school board employees.

This means employees must inform the Board whether they are vaccinated. Staff who decline to be immunized will have to participate in regular rapid tests (at least once a week).

Supports in Place

Special Education

In terms of support for students, KPR recognizes the unique challenges experienced by students with special education needs during this time, and additional support will be required to help these students learn and thrive as schools reopen.

Mental health and well-being

Student mental health and well-being will be a core element of the re-entry to school plan. It is foundational in ensuring a return to a welcoming environment that supports learning.

For the full details of KPR’s return to school plan go to:

#kawarthapineridgedistrictschoolboard, #backtoschool, #kpr, #covid, #students, #northumberland


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