Windsor-Essex Catholic board lays out plan for new school year
School boards were directed by the Ministry to prepare their plan for the academic year by Aug. 4
It's going to be a school year unlike any other.
The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board released a 43-page document Tuesday afternoon outlining how schools under the board will operate during the pandemic starting Sept. 8.
Fulvio Valentinis, chair of the WECDSB, said they're excited that the province laid out specific directions as to what safety measures should be put in place.
"It's not something that just came into being very recently. It's a result of really three months of work by administration. Numerous meetings with the Ministry, with the health science and health care officials to come up with the specific report," he said, adding changes will be made as the school year progresses.
"Everyone has had a high anxiety level. Everyone has been out of school for so long. We're in the business of teaching but ... students want to be in school," he said, "So, it's our job to make sure that we create that safe environment."
Some of the changes WECDSB will be implementing for the new school year:
- All staff and students will be required to do a daily self-assessment prior to entering the school.
- Anyone experiencing any symptoms of illness will have to stay home.
- Physical distancing measures will be in place: no hand holding or hugging will be allowed
- Furniture and desks will be spaced out as far as possible.
- High school students will be divided into two cohorts — A and B.
- High school students will attend school on a two week alternating schedule:
- Three days in the first week and two days in the next week.
- On the days that students are not in school, they're expected to do online learning.
- Masks will also be required for students from grades 4 to 12 -- but they can take it off during recess times, which will be staggered.
- Parents won't be allowed inside the schools, except in cases of emergency.
- Parents can always opt to have their kids learn from home only.as indicated by the Ministry of Education.
Valentinis said there will be a mix of parents either feeling anxious or relieved.
"[Some parents] don't all have the luxury of alternate arrangements for learning and schooling at home or daycare," he said.
"Other parents may not be as critical. Everyone has an anxiety level of sorts in terms of, you know, they want to make sure that it's safe. They're taking these children out of the bubble and placing them back into a much larger group."
Premier Doug Ford told reporters on Tuesday's daily update that he's also concerned about what back to school will look like, and says the province's plan referred to the recommendations from Sick Kids Hospital which he describes as "incredible."
"I respect their plan. They're the experts. We aren't the experts, but for the parents that are nervous, I understand. I'm nervous as a premier. I'm going to be losing sleep all the way through September to make sure these kids are safe," he said.
The Greater Essex County District School Board said they're still getting their guides together and hope to have it ready by later this week.
WECDSB will be holding a public meeting Wednesday night to discuss its full back-to-school plan.