What to expect when schools reopen Monday

In-person school is back for boards in eastern Ontario on Monday, but parents and students will notice a few changes since December.

In-person learning returns Feb. 1 but with some changes

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board says students will be expected to wear masks outdoors, including during recess, starting Monday. (Radio-Canada)

In-person school is back for boards in eastern Ontario on Monday, but parents and students will notice a few changes since December.

The province announced Thursday that boards within the areas covered by Ottawa Public Health and the Eastern Ontario Health Unit will be permitted to resume in-person learning on Feb. 1.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board are taking precautionary measures that include:

  • Students and staff must complete a screening survey from Ottawa Public Health before going to school.
  • Staff and secondary students will need to confirm they've done the self-assessment.
  • Students in Grade 1 to 3 are now required to wear a mask.
  • Encouraging kindergarten students to also wear a mask.
  • Students in all grades are expected to wear masks indoors and outdoors, including at recess.

"Will Monday be perfect? Probably not, because some of our families will also need to make adjustments," said Camille Williams-Taylor, director of education for the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.

"But we know that we certainly are doing everything to ensure that our classrooms are ready."

WATCH | Teachers have had to be adaptable:

Ottawa teachers get ready for return to in-person learning

CBC News Ottawa

2 months ago
Camille Williams-Taylor, director of education for the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, says many teachers have learned to be “in a constant state of readiness” when it comes to shifting between online and in-person learning. 1:11

She said the biggest challenge in keeping schools open is to make sure the community continues to follow other public health measures in place.

"We want to keep people safe and it is in fact controlling spread in the community that will translate into opening our schools, keeping our schools open and keeping our numbers very low," Williams-Taylor said.

'Logistical challenges'

School buses will also be operating next week.

For Ottawa Catholic School Board, director of education Tom D'Amico said there are some "logistical challenges" when it comes to transportation.

D'Amico says the board is working with the Ottawa Student Transportation authority to make sure it has as many routes running for Monday.

The board has also ordered an additional 156 air filters to be placed in kindergarten classrooms throughout the district, and has set up isolation rooms for students who may be showing symptoms of COVID-19 while at school.

Both boards said they will be educating parents and students about refraining from after-school activities, like play dates with other households.

"With our secondary students, it's a little more challenging. Just the nature of those students, they certainly want that social interaction," D'Amico said.

"We have to give them some responsibility that the decisions they're making can impact not only their own lives, but those of their parents and their grandparents."

WATCH | Sending the message that other lockdown rules stil apply:

Return to school shouldn’t mean return to other social activities, school board says

CBC News Ottawa

2 months ago
Tom D’Amico, director of education with the Ottawa Catholic School Board, says schools will be letting students and parents know that even though in-person learning is resuming, other social activities should still be off limits. 1:01

During a briefing Thursday, Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said the Eastern Ontario Health Unit will be working with schools in that region on enhanced screening measures come Monday.

Nurses will be going into classrooms to refresh students on health measures and to answer any questions.

WATCH | What one union would have liked to see:

In-person learning should come with improved cleaning measures, smaller class sizes, union says

CBC News Ottawa

2 months ago
Susan Gardner, president of the Ottawa Carleton Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, says more needs to be done to ensure the safety of students, teachers and staff as in-person learning resumes. 0:55

With files from Joanne Chianello

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