Back-to-school plan in place
The plan is to send students back to school on Sept. 8 but the details of that plan are still being flushed out.
Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Charles Gardner said it is the opinion of public health officials that the benefit of being in school outweighs the risk for students and families.
“In a sense, to me this is like having a fourth stage of opening up the province … It’s another potential source of transmission in the community that we have to manage carefully together with the controls that are sited in [the province’s] plan,” said Gardner.
He said there is increased risk if students aren’t able to maintain a physical distance, and teachers are also at risk, especially those who are older and have medical conditions.
“It’s certainly the view of my colleagues across the province that it’s vitally important that schools commence and that they go back to being full-time for younger children, for their mental wellbeing, for their health overall, and for the wellbeing of families so that they can get back to work for their economic wellbeing…” said Gardner.
Information presented to Simcoe County District School Board trustees at the August 4 board meeting is that elementary students would return to school full-time on a daily basis to the classroom, and secondary students would return full-time, but with alternative timetables.
Elementary school students will be cohorted with their homeroom while secondary school students will adopt a quadmester approach for the first semester, meaning students will take two courses at a time, instead of four. Students will take two courses from September until November and then two different courses from November until February.
Students in Grades 4-12 will be required to wear cloth masks, while students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 are not required to wear masks, but they are recommended. Staff will wear a medical mask and a face shield provided by the school board. All staff and students must self-screen every day prior to attending school.
Voluntary online learning opportunities will be available to students whose parents or guardians determine that they do not want their child to return to in-person learning.
With regard to bussing, the Simcoe County Student Transportation Consortium (SCSTC) is working with operators to coordinate sanitation, seating plans and PPE for bus drivers.
Parents and guardians will be asked to commit to whether or not they plan on using SCSTC transportation when school starts up.
As of August 6, Simcoe Muskoka’s COVID-19 case count has reached 664, with 52 of those cases being active.
On July 27, a ninth Clearview resident has tested positive for COVID-19. The man is between the ages of 45-64 community transmission.