Ontario Government Announces Back To School Plans

Students going back to school in September will regain some of the normalcy they have lost during the pandemic. The Ontario government announced today that when students go back to classrooms next month, they will be able to take part in extracurricular activities like sports, use instruments in music class, and attend field trips among other rollbacks.

Schools will also be relaxing rules on the use of shared spaces such as libraries and cafeterias. While students from Grade one onwards are still required to wear masks indoors, students can take masks off while outdoors. While outside, students are now able to play with friends from other classes.

Starting in September, schools are expected to be operating all day. Students will be attending in-person classes five days a week unless they have opted for remote learning. Schools with mechanical ventilation systems will be using the highest-grade filters possible and will be required by the Ontario government to turn their systems on at least two hours before the start of the school day. If a school does not have a mechanical ventilation system, it will be required to have standalone HEPA filter units in all classrooms.

For students returning to in-person learning next month, schools will be relying on families to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms at home. While the plan does not confirm when students will be required to stay home, those policies are expected to be revised before the start of the school year. The Ontario government states that at times, schools might be required to conduct an on-site confirmation of screening. This would likely only occur during times when the viral transmission is higher, such as after a larger break.

At this time, vaccinations are not mandatory for staff and students.

Education minister Stephen Lecce is expected to comment further on the plan Wednesday, when he announces a $25-million investment for upgrades to school ventilation systems.

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