Ottawa

Here's a board-by-board breakdown of back-to-school plans across the region

When does school start? What safety protocols are in place? Can we switch to remote learning? You have questions, we have answers, wherever your child goes to school in eastern Ontario or western Quebec.

When does school start? What safety protocols are in place? Can we switch to remote learning?

Masks are mandatory for older children and 'strongly recommended' for younger ones by school boards across eastern Ontario and western Quebec. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

As schools across eastern Ontario and western Quebec scramble to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents and students are left with unanswered questions.

When does school begin? What will my child's day look like? Is it possible to switch from in-class to online learning during the school year, and vice versa?

We've gathered everything we know about each and every school board in the region to give you the most up-to-date information available.

You can scroll down this page to compare the different back-to-school plans, or click on your local school board below.

Eastern Ontario: 

Western Quebec: 

Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB)

When will classes start? 

The OCDSB will be staggering the return of students over two weeks. Students in kindergarten to Grade 8 begin staggered entry on Sept. 14, and will all be in class by Sept. 18.

High school students entering Grade 9 will begin with orientation on Sept. 8 and 9. All secondary students will start in-person classes on Sept. 10 or Sept. 11, depending on their cohort.

Parents can learn more about elementary schedules by start date, or by searching by school name, the board says.

All remote elementary and high school students are scheduled to begin online classes Sept. 18.

Which students will be required to wear masks?

Masks are mandatory for students in grades 4-12 while on the bus or in school. Students in kindergarten to Grade 3 are not obligated to wear them, but the board says it is encouraged. 

Are class sizes being reduced? 

Last week, OCDSB said it will be reducing the number of students per class to 15 in neighbourhoods where the spread of COVID-19 has been relatively high. The board says more information will be made available soon.

What will the school day look like? 

Students in elementary schools will attend classes five days a week and are expected to remain with the same classmates within their classroom throughout the day including lunch and recess. The board says information about start dates and cohorts will be provided by schools. 

In the board's revised model, a school day for secondary students will have two periods of in-person instruction along with study hall. They will attend in-person instruction on alternating days. 

All students and staff need to undergo a screening for COVID-19 symptoms prior to arriving at school or work. 

What will remote learning look like?

OCDSB said remote learning will not be the same as in-person learning, which will involve live sessions with instructors where attendance will be taken. 

Remote learners will not necessarily be with students from their school, but will attend a "virtual school" with students from across their district. They will have a required number of instructional minutes for synchronous learning, which is live instruction, and asynchronous learning, which consists of pre-recorded lessons or independent learning.

When can students switch between remote and in-person learning?

Dates for switching models and corresponding deadlines for requesting a switch will be established as soon as possible.

Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB)

When will classes start?

Students in kindergarten to Grade 3 and Grade 7 will begin on Sept. 8, while grades 4-6 and Grade 8 will begin Sept. 9. High school students in grades 9-12 are split into two different cohorts: Cohort A will return on Sept. 14, while Cohort B will start the next day. 

Which students will be required to wear masks?

Masks are mandatory for students in grades 4-12 while on the bus or in school. Students in kindergarten to Grade 3 are not obligated to wear them but the board "strongly recommends" that all students do. 

Are class sizes being reduced?

Kindergarten classes will have an average of 26 students, while over 90 per cent of the classes in grades 1-3 will have 20 students or fewer. The remaining 10 per cent will have 21 to 23 students. Grades 4-8 will have approximately 24 students in each class. 

According to the board's adapted model for high school students, class sizes will be reduced to 12 to 17 students "in most cases." 

What will the school day look like?

OCSB said elementary students will remain in one cohort for the day including during recess and lunch. 

Students in grades 9-12 will take two classes every day. Schools will divide students into two cohorts that will attend in-person classes on alternate days. High schools will operate on an adapted "quadmester" system in which students have to take two 150-minute courses each day for a total of five hours per day. 

What will remote learning look like?

Elementary students who are enrolled in remote learning will receive daily instruction with a dedicated classroom teacher for their online class. They will receive a daily schedule that requires up to 300 minutes of learning per day. This will include a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning activities for the students to complete. 

High school students enrolled in the OCSB's "Virtual Academy" will focus on one course at a time over a five- to six-week period and are required to complete five hours of learning per day. 

When can students switch between remote and in-person learning?

Parents will be able to register their child for in-person learning at the end of October, after the school year begins. 

Secondary students who opted for remote learning will be able to return to in-person learning at the end of the semester.

Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE)

When will classes start? 

The first day of class for in-person learning for kindergarten to Grade 8 students is Thursday, while the first day for high school students in Ottawa is Sept. 8. The board said it is confident that Sept. 3 is a "realistic" date for elementary schools to welcome students back. 

Which students will be required to wear masks?

Masks are mandatory for students in grades 4-12 while on the bus or in school. Students in kindergarten to Grade 3 are not obligated to wear them but the board "strongly recommends" that all students do. 

Are class sizes being reduced?

For elementary schools, direct and indirect contacts are limited to 50 students from the same cohort.

According to the CECCE's website, grades 9-12 will have a reduced class size of around 15 students.

What will the school day look like?

Grades 1-6, and in some cases grades 7 and 8, will have staggered recess, lunch and bathroom breaks throughout the day, and areas will be designated for each cohort of students to limit the number of people gathering. Students will be grouped into cohorts and remain together throughout the day to limit contact with others.

Students in grades 7 and 8 will return to in-person classes and will follow the regular full-time schedule.

Grades 9-12 will also be split into cohorts and will follow a rotating schedule allowing each group to alternate throughout the week. They will attend two periods of 150 minutes for the same course on days when they are physically in school. 

What will remote learning look like?

Students in kindergarten to Grade 8 will attend the CECCE "Virtual Learning Academy," which will include synchronous and asynchronous learning.

When can students switch between remote and in-person learning?

For students in kindergarten to Grade 8, parents can choose to withdraw their child from either remote learning or in-person learning at any point by filling out a withdrawal form on the board's website. For grades 9-12, if the student is registered full-time for distance learning, they must complete the first semester before they are able to make the transition. 

Conseil des écoles publiques de l'Est de l'Ontario (CEPEO)

When will classes start? 

Students in CEPEO schools will begin in-person instruction between Sept. 3 and 9. Students enrolled in remote learning will begin Sept. 8.

Which students will be required to wear masks?

Students in grades 4-12 are required to wear masks indoors, in the hallways and in classroom. Masks are mandatory for Grade 3 students registered in a split grades 3/4 class. CEPEO strongly recommends masks to be worn by students in kindergarten to Grade 3. 

Masks are mandatory for all students on school buses, no matter their grade.

Are class sizes being reduced?

Grades 1-3 will have an average of 20 students per class with one teacher, while grades 4-8 will have an ​average of 24.5 students per teacher.

With the CEPEO's attendance model, secondary schools are able to limit each cohort to about 15 students per class.

What will the school day look like?

Students in kindergarten to Grade 8 will attend school five days a week.

Students in grades 9-12 will have their school year divided into quadmesters and will take two courses per quadmester. Students will also be divided into two cohorts that will alternate throughout the week. One group will attend classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and every other Friday, the other group on Tuesdays, Thursdays and every other Friday.

Teachers and parents are required to fill out a self-assessment form daily, prior to attending class. The form can be found on the board's website.

What will remote learning look like?

CEPEO will be offering both synchronous and asynchronous learning for students in elementary school, while the online learning program for secondary students will run on a semester schedule, with students enrolled in four courses from September to January.

When can students switch between remote and in-person learning?

Students in Kindergarten to Grade 8 must wait up to 12 weeks to switch from virtual learning to the classroom. Grades 9-12 can make the transition after each half-semester. Each semester of the traditional school year will be divided into two terms. 

In western Quebec, students will remain in the same classroom throughout the day, and only teachers will move from room to room. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB)

When will classes start? 

The board is planning to have a three-day staggered start for students returning to school, beginning Sept. 11.

Which students will be required to wear masks?

Students in grades 4-12 and staff must wear a mask while inside the building.

Are class sizes being reduced?

All kindergarten to Grade 8 students will be kept with their assigned class to minimize contact between students at school. The board has not specified the average number of students in each class. 

Under the UCDSB's attendance model, secondary schools are able to limit each cohort to about 15 students per class.

What will the school day look like?

Elementary schools will be open full days, five days a week for in-person learning. Students will remain with their assigned groups throughout the day. 

Students in grades 9-12 will follow a quadmester model similar to other school boards, with students taking two courses for the first nine weeks of the school year. Students are expected to complete four courses by January.

What will remote learning look like?

For all students enrolled in remote learning, a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning will be offered to ensure they complete the minimum requirements set by the board.

When can students switch between remote and in-person learning?

In a letter to parents, the UCDSB told parents that once the school year starts it "may not be possible" for students to switch between classroom and online learning due to high demand. 

Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO)

When will classes start? 

The first day of school for students will be staggered between Sept. 8 and 10. Kindergarten students and Grade 7 students in secondary schools will return Sept. 8. Grades 1-3 and grades 8 and 9 students in secondary schools will begin Sept. 9. Grades 4-6, grades 7 and 8 in elementary schools, and grades 10-12 in high schools will begin Sept. 10.

The first day of school for students enrolled in online learning is Sept. 14.

Which students will be required to wear masks?

Face masks are mandatory for students in grades 4-12 in all CDSBEO schools. 

Are class sizes being reduced?

The board's chosen model keeps students with their classroom cohort, but unlike a different model does not limit class sizes to 15.

What will the school day look like?

Elementary schools will follow a regular five-day cycle this year. Secondary schools will follow a quadmester model for the first half of the school year, similar to other school boards. No decision has been made yet to implement the same model for the second half. 

High school students will also have shorter days in class, beginning at 8:10 a.m. and ending at approximately 12:15 p.m.

What will remote learning look like?

Elementary and secondary school students who choose remote learning can expect live sessions and self-learning to be offered daily.

When can students switch between remote and in-person learning?

The CDSBEO said it will consider allowing students to opt for a different learning method during the school year. 

Renfrew County District School Board (RCDSB)

When will classes start?

The first day of classes for all students is Sept. 8. 

Which students will be required to wear masks?

Students in grades 4-12 are required to wear a mask while at school.

Are class sizes being reduced?

High school class sizes will not be reduced, with a maximum of 34 students per class, according to the board's website.

What will the school day look like?

Elementary schools will follow a regular five-day cycle this school year. Secondary schools will follow a quadmester model for the first half of the school year, but no decision has been made yet to implement the same model in the second half.

What will remote learning look like?

Students enrolled in virtual learning will be required to complete a combination of live online instruction along with assignments and activities. They will be grouped with other online students in their grade or multiple grades from schools across the district.

When can students switch between remote and in-person learning?

Parents have the opportunity to switch their children from online learning to in-person learning, or vice versa, at set points throughout the school year.

School boards across the region are taking precautions and enforcing distancing rules in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Renfrew County Catholic District School Board (RCCDSB)

When will classes start?

The first day of classes for all students is Sept. 8. 

Which students will be required to wear masks?

Students in grades 4-12 are required to wear a mask while at school.

Are class sizes being reduced?

Class sizes for secondary schools will be reduced as a result of the cohort model that the board has implemented. 

What will the school day look like?

Elementary schools will follow a regular five-day cycle this school year. RCCDSB schools will also implement a quadmester model for secondary students, who will take two courses per day each quadmester.

What will remote learning look like?

Virtual learning will take place five days a week and all students will need to meet the requirements set out by the board. Each virtual classroom will have one designated teacher for both synchronous and asynchronous learning.

When can students switch between remote and in-person learning?

The earliest opportunity for remote learners to return to the classroom will be Nov. 16. 

Limestone District School Board (LDSB)

When will classes start? 

All students attending an LDSB school will begin Sept. 3.

Which students will be required to wear masks?

Students in grades 4-12 are required to wear a mask while at school.

Are class sizes being reduced?

The LDSB does not specify class sizes in their return-to-school plan. 

What will the school day look like?

Students in elementary school will remain with their classroom cohorts during the day including recess and lunch.

As a non-designated board, the LDSB is using a conventional model where all elementary and secondary students will return for in-person learning five days a week. Secondary school courses will follow a "blocked timetable" where students concentrate on one subject at a time. 

What will remote learning look like?

The LDSB Virtual School for all grades will use the same content and expectations set out in the Ontario curriculum. Remote learning will include "opportunities for guided instruction, large- and small-group learning, live (synchronous) check-ins, and scheduled (asynchronous) independent work," according to the board.

When can students switch between remote and in-person learning?

Elementary students wishing to move from remote learning to in-class learning or vice versa will need to notify their home school by Sept. 14, 2020.

Secondary students wishing to switch can notify their home school any time, and will be accommodated as long as there's space available.

The board acknowledges that while efforts will be made to accommodate requests for a change, "families should expect that they might need to be wait-listed if they change their minds due to capacity challenges at their home school or the LDSB Virtual School."

Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board (HPEDSB)

When will classes start?

HPEDSB will hold a staggered entry beginning Sept. 3. Students attending the board's virtual school will begin classes on Sept. 14. 

Which students will be required to wear masks?

Masks are mandatory for staff and students in grades 4-12 in hallways, during classes and on buses.

Are class sizes being reduced?

HPEDSB will require students' contacts to be limited to approximately 50, inside and outside of the classroom. 

What will the school day look like?

Elementary students in kindergarten to Grade 8 will attend school five days a week, with 300 minutes of instruction per day, and will remain with their cohort including recess and lunch breaks.

Secondary students will study four courses from September to January. All students, whether learning in class or online, will follow a blended learning model consisting of 300 minutes of instruction per day.

What will remote learning look like?

The board's K-12 Virtual School will group students from different schools together to form online classes. The school day will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 3:20 p.m. with breaks in between. Each virtual classroom will have a designated teacher for both synchronous and asynchronous learning.

When can students switch between remote and in-person learning?

Parents will have the opportunity to switch their children from online learning to in-person learning, or vice versa, at set points throughout the school year.

Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board (ALCDSB)

When will classes start? 

All students will begin staggered entry on Sept. 3. All students in kindergarten to Garde 8 will start by Sept. 14, and all high school students will start by Sept. 8.

Which students will be required to wear masks? 

Masks are mandatory for staff and students in grades 4-12. Students in kindergarten to Grade 3 are "strongly encouraged to wear masks."  

Are class sizes being reduced? 

In its updated return-to-school plan, the ALCDSB says class sizes will be organized based on Ministry of Education requirements, but doesn't provide any numbers.

What will the school day look like?

All students in elementary schools will remain in the same classroom for the day. Teachers, not students, will move between rooms.

What will remote learning look like?

Remote learning will begin after the staggered entry dates. The board notes that while there will be "live and scheduled" learning opportunities, remote instruction will differ from in-person learning. 

The board also notes that remote learning may be delivered differently to elementary and secondary students as there are different time requirements depending on grade.

When can students switch between remote and in-person learning?

The ALCDSB says elementary students will have an option to return to school based on "site based scenarios." However, secondary students will only be allowed to make the transition at the beginning of the next "octomester," which would be at the start of Period 2 on Oct. 13. 

For those who want to switch from in-person learning to remote learning during the school year, the board says opportunity will be limited due to organizational and staffing considerations.

Back-to-school protocols include one-way traffic in corridors to minimize contact between students. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Western Québec School Board (WQSB)

When will classes start? 

All students in pre-school, elementary and secondary schools in the English-language school board in Gatineau and the Outaouais returned to school Friday, the first day of a staggered four-day entry.

Which students will be required to wear masks? 

Masks are mandatory for students in grades 5-12 and recommended for all other students, a rule set by Quebec's Education Ministry. Students will have to wear a mask in common areas and on school transportation. 

Are class sizes being reduced? 

Schools are open at 100 per cent occupancy and class sizes are to remain the same according to ministry rules, but distancing protocols are in place in the classroom. 

What will the school day look like?

Similar to other boards in western Quebec, a distance of two metres must be maintained between students and school staff, and one metre between students of different class groups. As well, students from the same class group will remain in the same classroom and teachers will be the only ones moving from room to room.

What will remote learning look like?

There is currently no remote learning option for students of any age unless they have a medical exemption. Parents have the option of home-schooling their children, the board says.

Commission scolaire des Draveurs 

When will classes start? 

All students returned to school Monday. 

Which students will be required to wear masks? 

Masks are mandatory for students in grades 5-12 and recommended for all others, a rule set by Quebec's Ministry of Education.

Are class sizes being reduced? 

Class sizes are to remain the same according to ministry rules, but distancing protocols are in place in the classroom. 

What will the school day look like?

Similar to other boards in western Quebec, a distance of two metres must be maintained between students and school staff, and one metre between students of different class groups. As well, students from the same class group will remain in the same classroom and teachers will be the only ones moving from room to room.

What will remote learning look like?

There is currently no remote learning option for students of any age unless they have a medical exemption.

Most school boards in the region require children to wear masks on board school buses. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Commission scolaire des Hauts-Bois-de-l'Outaouais (CSHBO)

When will classes start? 

A three-day staggered entry for all students began Monday. 

Which students will be required to wear masks? 

Masks are mandatory for students in grades 5-12 and recommended for all other students, a rule set by Quebec's Ministry of Education.

Are class sizes being reduced? 

Class sizes are to remain the same according to ministry rules, with distancing protocol in place in the classroom. 

What will the school day look like?

Similar to other boards in western Quebec, a distance of two metres must be maintained between students and school staff, and one metre between students of different class groups. As well, students from the same class group will remain in the same classroom and teachers will be the only ones moving from room to room.

What will remote learning look like?

There is currently no remote learning option for students of any age unless they have a medical exemption.

Centre de services scolaire au Cœur-des-Vallées (CSSCV)

When will classes start? 

All students returned to classes Monday. 

Which students will be required to wear masks? 

Masks are mandatory for students in grades 5-12 and recommended for all other students, a rule set by Quebec's Ministry of Education.

Are class sizes being reduced? 

Class sizes are to remain the same according to ministry rules, with distancing protocol in place in the classroom. 

What will the school day look like?

Similar to other boards in western Quebec, a distance of two metres must be maintained between students and school staff, and one metre between students of different class groups. As well, students from the same class group will remain in the same classroom and teachers will be the only ones moving from room to room.

What will remote learning look like?

There is currently no remote learning option for students of any age unless they have a medical exemption.

Commission Scolaire Des Portages-De-L'Outaouais (CSSPO)

When will classes start? 

All students returned to classes Tuesday.

Which students will be required to wear masks? 

Masks are mandatory for students in Grades 5 to 12 and recommended for all other students, a rule set by Quebec's Ministry of Education.

Are class sizes being reduced? 

Class sizes are to remain the same according to ministry rules, with distancing protocol in place in the classroom. 

What will the school day look like?

Similar to other boards in western Quebec, a distance of two metres must be maintained between students and school staff, and one metre between students of different class groups. As well, students from the same class group will remain in the same classroom and teachers will be the only ones moving from room to room.

What will remote learning look like?

There is currently no remote learning option for students of any age.

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