Ottawa

Masks, backpacks, water bottles: Your COVID-19 guide to back-to-school supplies

For those uncertain about how returning to class in the middle of a pandemic will work, Ottawa's school boards have sent out lists of guidelines and recommended supplies to help keep schools safe. Here are a few things to keep in mind while out shopping.

Ottawa's school boards have released guidelines to help keep classrooms safe

Ontario's Ministry of Education has mandated that masks be worn by students in Grade 4 and up. Some Ottawa parents are being told they should pack the masks in Ziploc bags, labelled with their child's name. (iStock)

September means a return to class for Ottawa students — at least, for those whose parents and guardians have opted to send them back this fall for in-person learning. 

For those uncertain about how returning to class in the middle of a pandemic will work, the city's school boards have sent out lists of guidelines and recommended supplies to help keep schools safe.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you're out shopping.  

Cloth or disposable masks

Ontario's Ministry of Education has mandated that masks be worn by students in Grade 4 and up. 

Some school boards are strongly recommending younger students also wear masks, which must follow the school's dress code.  

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) recommends masks be stored in Ziploc bags that have the student's name written on it. 

The board is advising against students keeping masks on lanyards, citing safety concerns.

OCDSB students are allowed to take off their masks outside, as long as they're staying two metres apart from others.  Parents are advised to have their children practice wearing a mask. 

Water bottles

According to the OCDSB and the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB), water fountains won't be used. 

Students are asked to bring a labelled water bottle to school instead.

Hand sanitizer and tissues

Students at schools with the OCSB and the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE) are encouraged to bring a personal hand sanitizer bottle.  

Conseil des écoles publiques de l'Est de l'Ontario (CEPEO) elementary school students must bring their own tissue paper so that children don't all stick their hands in the same box. 

Students with the Conseil des écoles publiques de l'Est de l'Ontario (CEPEO) must bring their own tissues to reduce the number of students getting up from their desks and sticking their hands into the same box. (CBC)

A single pair of shoes 

The OCSB says it's trying to avoid crowding in hallways as students change footwear, so students are being urged to not bring more than one pair of shoes to school.

An extra pair of shoes can be left at a child's desk, however.

Students at OCDSB schools also are being asked not to bring extra shoes.  

The two boards say they'll revisit this decision when the weather changes. 

No sharing supplies

When it comes to buying basic school supplies like pencils and notebooks, the recommendations have largely remained the same — although this year, students aren't supposed to share those supplies.

The CEPEO says any supplies that are shared will need cleaning between uses. The OCSB says classroom pencil sharpeners can still be used, but will also have to be cleaned after each use.

Meanwhile, the OCDSB says school supplies will be on-hand for students to use, but families can still buy supplies if they want to.

If they do, students should label and store these items in a pencil case. The OCDSB has released a list of supplies that parents can consult to figure out what's needed for each grade. 

No lockers

Children at OCSB schools won't have access to lockers or cubbies. All bags and clothing will instead be kept in a personal space in the classroom designated for that child.  

All CEPEO elementary school students will keep their supplies in a container on their desks. Personal items like backpacks or lunch boxes will be stored separately and taken home each day. 

The OCDSB says some teachers could have their own list of items for parents to buy before their children head back to class. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

High school students will keep these items at their desks or tables throughout the day and should bring as few items as possible with them.

CECCE students may also bring backpacks, but parents are encouraged to minimize the number of personal belongings their children take with them.

According to the board, these items must be labelled and will be kept in a designated spot at the school. 

OCDSB students will stash all their items at their desk. Cubbies and lockers also won't be accessible.

Toys stay at home

While younger children may want to bring their favourite toys with them, parents with children at OCDSB schools are asked to keep these items at home. 

No sharing food

The OCSB says its microwaves won't be available for students, nor will there be any food services until later in the year.

Parents should ensure students can open food containers on their own. Snacks are not to be shared.

The OCDSB is advising parents to equip their children with their own utensils. Students will be expected to take all food containers and related garbage back home with them.

Parents of CECCE students are being told to prepare cold lunches, accompanied by a small labelled water bottle. All compost or garbage must be brought home. 

Personal devices 

OCSB and CEPEO students who own electronic devices are encouraged to bring them. 

According to the OCSB, if a child can bring their own technology, that will free up a school-provided device without the need for cleaning it between uses. 

Bundle up 

OCDSB says students will spend a greater amount of time outside this school year and should dress for a variety of weather conditions.

Parents should pack boots and extra socks on rainy days, the board says.

Personalized lists  

The OCSB says some of its teachers could have their own list of items they're recommending parents buy before children board the school bus. 

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