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ADSB releases detailed school opening guidelines

12 per cent of board’s students will keep learning remotely
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Algoma District School Board. Darren Taylor/SooToday

The Algoma District School Board (ADSB) has released its Guidelines For Re-opening ADSB Schools.

With guidance from public health officials, highlights of the ADSB school reopening plan include:

  • At the elementary level, full school days for five days a week, including lunch and recess, with cohorting (or grouping) students with their classmates and homeroom teacher, with limited contact with other subject teachers, direct and indirect contacts for students in elementary schools to be limited to 50 students

  • At the secondary level, cohorting with in-person contacts kept to two classes, or within their grade, depending on the size of the particular high school, direct and indirect student contacts to be limited to 100 students

  • Mandatory mask-wearing for all staff and students in Grades 4 to 12 (mask use is encouraged in Grades Kindergarten through 3), including mask-wearing on the school buses, but not during outdoor recesses and outdoor breaks

  • School staff working in close contact with students will wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • Students to be assigned seating on school buses which includes sitting with siblings or with or near others in their classroom (likely two students per seat)

  • Desks will be placed one metre apart wherever possible, facing forward, and staff will attempt to keep a two metre distance

  • Hallway traffic to be designated (directional) to support distancing

  • Scheduled hand washing and sanitizing breaks throughout the school day

  • At the secondary level, courses will be quadmestered, meaning students will take two courses until mid-November (instead of the usual four) and then the other two courses run from mid-November until the end of January; each course will run for 150 minutes, separated by lunch (which will be eaten in a classroom)

  • To respect the 100-student contact requirement at the high school level, student course options may need to be changed

Physical education will be delivered, as much as possible, outside.

Gyms will only be used where physical distancing measures can be observed. Capacity in change rooms will be limited, if they are used. Use of shared equipment will be limited and disinfected regularly, students expected to perform proper hand hygiene before and after physical activity and equipment use.

Other changes include, until further notice:

  • No field trips 

  • No school clubs and sports 

  • No school assemblies 

  • No parents or visitors shall be permitted unless authorized

As far as mask wearing in schools is concerned, the ADSB learned August 14 the Ministry of Education is not making masks available for students (as previously indicated in the province’s Guide to Reopening Ontario’s Schools), but is instead providing a small supply of masks as back up for school boards.

Parents are still expected to provide masks for their children. 

The ADSB has been able to source some cloth masks for students and will provide two cloth masks per student in September and an extra three masks in a later shipment.

The board is asking parents to make sure masks are cleaned daily and that children arrive each day with a clean mask.

Students can remove masks while outdoors.

While most ADSB students will be returning to COVID-era classrooms in the Sault and Algoma district Sept. 8, some families within the system have chosen to keep their children and teens at home for remote learning, as reported earlier by SooToday.

Lucia Reece, ADSB director of education, told administrators and trustees in a special meeting Thursday approximately 1,200 of the board’s students will be learning remotely.

In an email Friday, Fran Walsh, ADSB communications officer, said the board currently has approximately 9,900 students in JK to Grade 12.

That means the approximately 1,200 remote learning ADSB students amount to 12 per cent of the board’s students in the Sault and Algoma.

Reece said Thursday the 1,200 students who have opted for remote learning, from JK to Grade 12, include approximately 700 elementary school students and approximately 500 at the secondary level.

“We’ve started the process of having to collapse classes and reorganize schools where we are pulling teachers and are looking to staff what I’ll call ‘the virtual school,’” Reece told administrators and trustees.

“We are looking at possibly officially starting remote learning in the second week of September. We want to use that first week to connect with families and students to make sure we've got courses in order...we want to make sure their technology works,” Reece said.

“It’s a work in progress but we’re working diligently to pull it all together.”

More information for families and students regarding the Sept. 8 return to school, including details regarding lunch and food services, expectations for students personal belongings and COVID testing and outbreak management, may be found on the ADSB website.

Additional information, including the board's Model for Remote Learning, may be found by clicking here