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GTA School Boards Release Re-Opening Plan

GTA School Boards Release Re-Opening Plan

Last week, we wrote about the Ontario Ministry of Education’s school reopening announcement. This week, we are looking at the plans for each of the school boards in Toronto. While Premier Ford claims that it is “not realistic” to expect no COVID-19 cases from spreading as a result of schools re-opening, many school boards are releasing their own board-specific reopening plans for September to consider realistically how education can happen without the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The TDSB’S Plans

The Toronto District School Board recently published “Returning to School: A Guide to the Safe Reopening of the TDSB,” which outlines the school board’s plans for health and safety measures, learning models, and other supports in schools this September the 8th for K-12 students.

First, TDSB has asked parents to indicate whether their child will be returning to school in September or not. This is so that the board can plan according to the number of students that are attending classes in person or learning remotely.

The TDSB has stated point blank that physical distancing measures, despite efforts to cohort, will not be a reality for K-8 classrooms. The board called on the Ministry for additional funding (aside from the 90 million Premier Ford allocated for the hiring of additional staff members) to make this possible. TDSB Chair Robin Pilkey has said that it would cost $250 million to make the necessary changes to allow for physical distancing at TDSB schools alone.

The TDSB stated, “Many of Toronto’s elementary schools are old, small and, in many cases, do not have class space that would allow a full class of students to physically distance the recommended 2 metres.” They have joined unions and parents in their criticism of the Ministry’s school reopening plans and claim they are advocating for smaller class sizes in elementary classrooms.

The board said, “Additional Ministry funding to lower elementary school class sizes will respond not only to the advice of health professionals but also to the tens of thousands of parents and educators from all over Toronto and the GTA, who share the view that lower class sizes will help Toronto’s and Ontario’s fight to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

High school students will attend school every day, in smaller class sizes of approximately 15 students, in either the morning or afternoon, with online learning at home the other half of the day. All schools will operate on a quadmaster (4 terms) schedule. Two courses will be studied at school, two at home. Therefore, students are not returning to “normal” school in any shape, way, or form.

Parents should be on the alert for any emails, letters, or phone calls that the board has or will send.

The TCDSB’S Pans

In their document, “TCDSB Reopening Action Plan: A Guide to Returning Safely to TCDSB Schools,” the Toronto Catholic District School Board has announced that elementary students, grades 1 to 8, will have a full return to school; they will attend school 5 days per week, limited to one cohort for the entire day including recess and lunchtime. Enhanced cleaning and health and safety protocols will be in place. Some adaptations to program delivery will occur in order to adhere to Public Health protocols.

All regular classes will be cohorted and split into two of approximately 15 students or less.

Students will attend every second day and take two courses at a time. All schools will operate on a quadmester timeline for the school year. Further learning in the two courses will take place through Distance Learning. Students who are in special education programs will attend school for the full day.

Parents should be on the alert for any emails, letters, or phone calls that the board has or will send.

The YRDSB’s Plans

In their document, “Return to School: Fall 2020” the York Region District School Board outline all the specific details and protocols which the board will be implementing. Aside from this, the board has chosen similar procedures to the TDSB and TCDSB in their school re-opening strategy for elementary and secondary students.

Parents should be on the alert for any emails, letters, or phone calls that the board has or will send.

The YCDSB’s Plans

The York Catholic District School Board has not formally released their school reopening initiative yet, but on August 10, they held a public meeting with community stakeholders, teachers, and board members. All parents have been sent a parent update with the YCDSB’s
reopening plan and a link to have completed a survey.

Parents should be on the alert for any emails, letters, or phone calls that the board has or will send.

Ministry Guidelines

The following aspects of board reopening plans are being implemented across all boards as per the Ministry of Education’s guidelines.

The board is giving parents the choice to choose face to face (in school) or distance (at home) learning for their children. Direct and indirect contacts in schools for elementary students will be limited to 50 people and 100 people for elementary and secondary students respectively.

School staff will be provided with PPE, students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be strongly encouraged to wear masks. Students in grades 4-12 will be required to wear cotton or disposable masks in order to enter the premises.

Staff will be trained on health and safety protocols prior to school re-openings.

Other details

All of these documents outline specific schedules for the school year including updated school year calendars and daily schedules. There are also many specific details about how the quadmaster school year is being set up in each board and how cohorts are being determined.

All of these details may be confusing and complex. Tutor4U will gladly discuss with you the implications of these decisions. Please call or email us should you have any concerns. We are here to help.

It is also critical to mention that these plans are tentative. The ministry of education must still accept or reject these plans As this is an evolving story, please tune in to Tutor4U’s blog for updates.