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PDSB announces mandatory masks, possible delay to new school year

August 27, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Written By ALYSSA PARKHILL

Peel District School Board is preparing for a new year with schools set to reopen their doors to students next month.

The provincial government announced on July 30, the plan for students returning to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It’s been hard on families to balance work and childcare, while kids have been separated from friends and other kids their own age. We want to get our kids back to school, but it has to be done safely,” said Premier Ford in a news release. “That’s why we’ve worked with our public health experts, Ontario Health and the medical experts at SickKids to develop a plan that ensures students can return to the classroom five days a week in a way that protects the health and safety of our children, teachers, and school staff.”

Schools plan to reopen on Sept. 8.

Elementary schools, students in kindergarten to Grade 8, are expected to return back to normal class operations of in-person learning, five days a week, while secondary students is split between in-person and online learning.

The local school board is making masks mandatory for all students, starting in Grade 1 all the way up to Grade 12, attending in-person classes, while also “strongly encouraging” kindergarten students to wear masks too.

The PDSB website was updated on Friday (Aug. 21), announcing that class sizes are planned to be reduced, by adding more elementary and secondary teachers. But, classes are expected to be delayed for online students due to the fact “a structure to support PDSB Online School does not currently exist”. 

The website states, “Building a meaningful, culturally responsive and relevant distance learning experience for this many students with diverse learning needs and identities, who have already been impacted in disproportionate ways, is a key priority for the PDSB. Given the complex nature of the planning required, we may see a delay to the start of the school year for students who will be enrolled in PDSB Online School.”

Adding, “Students who will attend school in-person may also see a delay to the start of the school year given the time and consideration required to carefully build cohorts, organize classes and prepare for a safe reopening.”

81 per cent of students in the PDSB are returning to school in September, with 26 per cent, roughly 40,000 students, planning to take advantage of online schooling. 

During the 2019-20 school year, the board gave 25,000 devices to students in order to support online, or distance learning, when schools closed due to the pandemic. The board declared that those students are instructed to keep those devices for the new school year. Additional devices have been received and organized to distribute to students in need.

In order to support the school reopening, the Ministry of Education has given the go-ahead for the school board to use $36 million of reserve funding to be able to fund the additions and accommodations, including the hiring of additional teachers.

In addition, the Ontario government announced on Aug. 13, that $500 million is being committed to school boards across Ontario to support the reopening of schools. 

“We have demonstrated throughout this outbreak that we will deliver the strongest and safest plan in Canada for Ontario students, with a recognition that we will continuously strengthen it over time,” said Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce. “This investment and access to reserves will enable more social distancing and improve air quality, and ultimately strengthen the layers of protection to keep students and staff safe.”

The federal government announced on Tuesday (Aug. 25) that it plans to invest an additional $2 billion to ensure schools across the country are able to restart the new year in a safe fashion.

For more information, please visit peelschools.org. 



         

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