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Public school board releases back to school guidelines

by Adam Gault

The Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) released its back to school reopening guidelines on Monday, August 10, offering parents and students the choice between in classroom instruction or an online learning program.

  “The COVID-19 emergency has changed the way we live, interact, and operate at home and in the community. I am very proud of the way the GECDSB community responded and answered the challenges of a radically different teaching and learning model in the final quarter of the 2019-20 school year,” GECDSB Director of Education, Erin Kelly, stated in the public school board’s Back to School Report. “The goal in reopening is to minimize risk and increase safety for everyone, while continuing to offer the learning and educational resources that our families demand and our students deserve.”

  In this Back to School Plan, elementary school students will attend school five full days a week, with a lunch break and recesses, although ‘cohorting,’ the practice of grouping students together to minimize contact, will be employed to keep the same group of students together.

  Masks will be mandatory for students between grades four and eight, while for kindergarten to grade three, they will be recommended.

  “As we plan for a return to school, the health, safety and well-being of our students, families, and staff is essential,” the GECDSB stated in its Back to School report. “We are working with the Windsor Essex [County] Health Unit and the Ministry of Education to provide a safe and successful return to our schools.”

  Similar to the Catholic Board’s back to school plan, high school students with the GECDSB will be divided into two groups, or cohorts, with a combination of in-class and online learning that will rotate on a ‘quadmester’ basis.

  This adapted model will have secondary students attending class every other day in smaller class sizes of around 15 students, and will be required to wear masks at all times while in school.

Additional safety measures will include directional arrows on the flow, enhanced cleaning protocols, as well as posters and signs reminding students of the importance of physical distancing and hand washing.

  With these protocols, the GECDSB hopes to limit the total number of contacts for each student, seeking to limit elementary students to around 50 people, and closer to 100 for high school students.

  The first day of school for grades one to twelve will tentatively be September 8, while kindergarten will begin on September 14.

  There is still a chance the beginning of the school year may be delayed, depending on developments between teacher’s unions and the province.

For a full list of details surrounding the GECDSB’s back to school reopening plan, parents and students can visit publicboard.ca

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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