PEI

What P.E.I. schools will look like in the fall due to COVID-19

The Prince Edward Island government has released more details of how it intends to bring children back to school safely in the fall, with COVID-19 in mind. 

Education minister warns a new outbreak would mean return of at-home learning

Among other elements in P.E.I.'s plan for students to return to school in the fall, parents are being encouraged to drive their children to school to cut down on the number of school bus passengers. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

The Prince Edward Island government has released more details of how it intends to bring children back to school safely in the fall, with COVID-19 in mind. 

Education and Lifelong Learning Minister Brad Trivers tabled the plan in the legislature Thursday afternoon. Many of the measures were previously discussed publicly, but the 8-page plan outlines them in more detail. (See link at bottom of story.)

"While in-school learning is the preferred model, backup plans will be in place to move to at-home learning should public health conditions change," says a news release from Trivers's department. 

Some details from the plan include the following.

  • Staff can expect to be back at school on Sept.1 and students on Sept. 8. 
  • Staff will get orientation sessions on new ways of dealing with students and each other to cut down on possible infections.
  • Parents are being encouraged to drive their kids to and from school to reduce the number of passengers on school buses. 
  • More cleaning is planned for school rooms and buses. 
  • Drop-off, pickup, lunch and recess times will be staggered to cut down on crowding. 

Trivers said parents are currently being consulted about their comfort level and availability to drop off and pick up their children from school. Based on responses, times will be determined. 

'Screening protocols' on way for schools

As well, there will be "screening protocols for all people entering a school."

There's no further details on what that includes, or whether it includes temperature checks. But the document on the provincial website does say that staff and students will be encouraged to stay home if they feel unwell. 

There will also be less mixing of students from different classes or years. The plan is for students to work in "cohorts" that don't change over time, to cut down on any cross-contamination. 

And the sizes of classes will drop, with multi-purpose rooms being used as classrooms to make sure there is room for physical distancing. 

Schools are going to work with the CPHO and education staff to develop operational plans for classes. The size of classes will be determined at a later date, based on feedback given by the CPHO. 

Curriculum has been revised for September 2020 to address learning gaps and curriculum outcomes that could not be taught this spring.- Prince Edward Island government's 'Welcome Back to School Plan'

The province had earlier acknowledged that more teachers might need to be hired if class sizes were cut for safety reasons, and that possibility is included in today's document. But the "Welcome Back to School Plan" also says more buses and routes might have to be added, as well as more cleaning staff. 

Another part of the plan notes: "Curriculum has been revised for September 2020 to address learning gaps and curriculum outcomes that could not be taught this spring." 

In terms of how schools would operate under a second wave of COVID-19, four scenarios are laid out in the plan. 

"It's common sense. It's following the CPHO guidelines," said Trivers. 

Trivers said parents will be told about the operational plan for their school before students go back to class in two months' time. 

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files by Jessica Doria-Brown

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