Back to School: What Simcoe Muskoka Parents, Students Need to Know

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Barrie, Ont. –

For the first time in months, students in Simcoe Muskoka and Ontario will resume in-person learning on September 7, despite the province sinking deeper into the fourth wave of the pandemic.

Parents and students always have the option of continuing online learning.

Last June, school boards asked parents about their preferred learning method for September and most opted to go back to class.

ONLINE LEARNING VS. IN PERSON

The vast majority of students return to face-to-face learning.

According to the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB), about five percent of students plan to learn online, up from about 18 percent last year.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Catholic School Board (SMCDSB) reports that out of 21,000 students, more than 660 have chosen distance learning.

Students can learn online with classes from multiple schools.

Teachers will be present daily and students will have a schedule with topics and lessons for a five hour teaching day.

CHANGE LEARNING MODE

The SCDSB is not accepting requests from parents to change their child’s learning style for September.

The board said parents wanting to change their learning mode should wait until February.

Families can request asynchronous learning starting August 30, which means teachers maintain a digital classroom where students can check in for daily homework, but they won’t participate in real-time online classes.

FACE MASKS FOR STUDENTS

Catholic and public school boards have made face masks inside school property mandatory for all kindergarten to grade 12 students.

Outside, masks are not mandatory, but social distancing is encouraged.

The Ontario government has said school boards must be prepared for potential closures if the COVID-19 situation worsens. He added that school boards should be prepared for students to switch to online learning with little notice.

However, when asked about the start of the school year in early August, Ontario’s chief medical officer Dr Kieran Moore said that school closures did not appear likely.

“I really can’t imagine or see any Ontario schools, colleges or universities closing,” Moore said.

HEALTH AND PHYSICAL EDUCATION

Students will stay in cohorts and avoid mixing with other classes. Recess will be staggered to limit interactions outside of cohorts, and students will eat in their classrooms.

There will be no assemblies or large gatherings, but students will have access to gymnasiums, cafeterias, playgrounds and libraries.

Ontario’s back-to-school plan includes resuming school sports. Thus, even if school trips are suspended for the moment, other extracurricular activities could resume in the fall.

Music programs can also be restarted with adequate ventilation.

The public council allows access to the lockers, but the Catholic council said “the lockers will not be allocated at this time.”

In addition, some hot food programs are reinstated.

COVID-19 PRESELECTION

The Ontario government has removed some symptoms from the Student Screening Tool, including a runny nose, sore throat and headache, which would require a child to stay home from school or of the daycare.

Instead, children with symptoms “most commonly associated with COVID-19” should stay home, including fever and chills, cough or barking cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste. or smell and nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Still, the Ontario government has said any student showing signs of any form of illness should stay home, even if symptoms are not listed.

STAFF IMMUNIZATION PROTOCOLS

Along with students, staff are required to screen for symptoms each day before arriving at school.

The education ministry said school boards will provide personal protective equipment to all educators and staff.

The Simcoe Muskoka Catholic School Board said it does not require educators to be vaccinated, but compiles vaccination statuses for its employees.

“We have more than three thousand employees, permanent and casual. And putting all of this information together in a very short period of time was very difficult, ”said Lonnie Bolton, SMCDSB Superintendent of Services.

Meanwhile, the Simcoe County Public Council said parents would not be able to request a vaccinated teacher.

SCHOOL BUSES

School buses will operate much like last year. The regular limit of students on a bus remains in effect, with everyone required to wear a mask.

Cleaning protocols remain in place, as well as physical distancing.

The board said the Simcoe County Student Transportation Consortium will create a seating plan to keep students from the same family and cohort together where possible.

With files from CTV News Toronto

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