P.E.I. students under 12 likely to remain in cohorts this fall
Only Islanders 12 and over will have been vaccinated by September
Cohorts may remain in place for Prince Edward Island students younger than 12 when they return to school classrooms in the fall of 2021.
In response to a question from CBC News, P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office said discussions about cohorting in K-12 due to COVID-19 restrictions in the fall are "very preliminary."
All students age 12 and older will have been able to receive their vaccinations by the start of school in September, the written statement said.
"We do not anticipate vaccinating students younger than 12 until the fall, pending the results of clinical trials and authorization by Health Canada," it said. Therefore, the province "may recommend maintaining cohorts in some form at some grade levels until the whole student population has been able to access vaccination.
"Recommendations regarding cohorting in K-12 will evolve as we see the impact of easing public health measures over the summer," it added.
Vaccination will be 'important'
In terms of post-secondary education, "vaccination will continue to be important for a safe return to in-class learning," the province said.
P.E.I.'s five-step plan to reopen the province says full-time class learning in post-secondary institutions may be possible "based on vaccination, with online learning options."
However, Thursday's statement seems to contradict that, saying it is "unlikely that individual vaccination status will be a requirement for returning to in-room learning."
Discussions about how to maintain high levels of vaccination for staff and students will be ongoing as the province heads into the fall, the province added.
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With files from Steve Bruce