The provincial government’s long-awaited back to school plan is being welcomed by officials at the Near North District School Board.

Their plan is supposed to be submitted next week and board chair Jay Aspin says it’s something they can work with.

At the Near North board any parent who has a child from elementary to secondary school and wants their child in class will be able to send them to school.

Superintendent of Education Tim Graves says face coverings will be part of the school experience for teachers and students.

“All staff will be required in almost every instance to wear medical grade masks. There will be a few exceptions. We know students in grades 4-12 will be required to wear non medical masks or cloth face coverings,” he says.

For younger students they’re being encouraged to wear face coverings.

Aspin says the plan includes instances of someone getting the virus at school.

“If it does happen there will be protocols in place to handle that type of situation including contact tracing,” he says.

Aspin says there is government support for school boards in the event of positive cases.

“They recognized that it might occur and they planned for it and provided resources for it to accommodate these situations,” he says

The government says there is $309 million in funding to make the plan work including $60 million for personal protective equipment and $80 million for extra staffing.

The school board will be putting together kits in consultation with the health unit when someone notices a child showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Graves says a secondary school day will change for students as it’s likely they won’t be able to go to different classrooms during the day.

Elementary students will be in school full time, and their classes won’t be broken up into smaller groups but there will be less mixing than usual but going outside and into the gym will occur.

Parents will also have the option to keep their kids out of class and there will be options for remote learning.

He says they received 2,700 responses in a recent survey and 20 % indicated a desire by parents to keep their child at home and not attend school.

(photo by station staff)

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