Here's what a Hamilton high school will look like during COVID-19

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board offered media a tour of Ancaster Secondary School.

Desks are 2 metres apart with the teacher's desk tucked away in the corner of the class to add more space

High school classes, like this one at Ancaster Secondary School, will have 15 desks, spaced two metres apart for students. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Hamilton high schools are beginning to reopen next week as the COVID-19 pandemic persists.

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board offered media a tour of Ancaster Secondary School.

The board showed reporters three classrooms, a hallway and a set of stairs.

Here's what HWDSB says high school classes in Hamilton will look like:

15 students per class

High school students traditionally might sit in groups to facilitate discussion during class but now desks are set up to be two metres apart. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

The three classrooms all had 15 desks for students spaced roughly two metres apart.

The desks take up almost the entirety of the room.

WATCH | HWDSB shows media high school class during COVID-19 pandemic

Manny Figueiredo, director of education, said it's a much different look to the standard approach.

"A history class could have had anywhere between 22 to 30 students depending on enrolment and you might have seen desks in groups of four to facilitate collaborative learning," he said.

"What you're seeing is two metres apart in cohorts of 15 and even intentionally moving the teacher's desk into the corner to try and create as much space as possible."

One of three high school classes in Ancaster Secondary School shows desks spaced two metres apart. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)
High school students at HWDSB will have classes with no more than 15 students in them. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

These classes had open windows, but those without windows or adequate airflow will get one of the board's 150 portable air filters.

There were fewer desks and more space in these classes compared to elementary schools.

Hallways and taped water fountains

Hallways in high schools like Ancaster Secondary Schools will have COVID-19 posters along the wall and stickers on the floor to promote physical distancing. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Hallways have various COVID-19 posters about masking and physical distancing.

The floor also features stickers that help physically distance students.

Water fountains are bagged up, but water bottle filling stations can be used.

Water fountains at HWDSB will be sealed to prevent students from using them. Kids can, however, use stations that fill up water bottles. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)
Posters like one pictured here that encourages the use of masks and face coverings will be all over schools when they open on the first week of September. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)
HWDSB is distributing PPE as well as cleaning and hand washing supplies to schools in the board. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

No guarantee COVID-19 won't hit schools

Despite the precautions school boards are taking, Hamilton Public Health says it will be impossible to stop the virus from infecting students or staff.

Figueiredo agrees.

"We can't guarantee something that operationally, with 1,000 kids in school ... we have to commit to the protocol and follow it when there's a situation."

HWDSB is receiving 19 public health nurses to help carry out those procedures but the board may get four or five more due to additional funding from the Ford government.

Attention parents, students and teachers: We want to hear from you!

We hope you'll use this form to tell us about school conditions, how classes are going or whatever other pressing issues are on your mind this September in Hamilton, Niagara, St. Catharines and Burlington.


Bobby Hristova is a journalist with CBC Hamilton. He reports on all issues, but has a knack for stories that hold people accountable, stories that focus on social issues and investigative journalism. He previously worked for the National Post and CityNews in Toronto. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.


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