Ontario has announced a series of options for bringing children back to the classrooms in September.
Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce have announced a plan to safely reopen Ontario schools for the 2020-2021 school year, designed to take guidelines from local and provincial health officials into account, as well as give parents options.
All public school boards in Ontario have been asked to produce reopening plans based on three scenarios. One is a return to regular in-class learning, with students going to school every day as usual with strict physical-distancing and safety guidelines in place.
The second option is a modified school day, with classrooms limited to 15 students at one time. Scheduling would be implemented to have students stay in contact with one teacher and their immediate classmates for as much as possible over the course of one school day. If this model is used, students may be scheduled for alternate school days or weeks.
The third and final option is for remote, at-home learning to continue, in the event school closures are extended. This also gives parents who may not be comfortable sending their students back to class an option.
After extensive consultation since classes were stopped in mid-March due to the pandemic, Lecce has assured parents that the plans are being put in place with the safety of students, teachers, and school staff the top priority.
"I want to assure parents safety is our guiding principle and the right supports are being put in place to ensure our students are set up for success," said Lecce. "I am grateful to Ontario students, education staff, and communities for stepping up during this difficult period."
School boards will be required to submit plans for all three scenarios to the Ministry by August 4, to allow for preparation for the school year to begin.
In addition, the government has announced $4 million in net funding for cleaning of schools, the creation of cleaning procedures, and the hiring of additional custodial staff for September.