DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: The Durham District School Board (DDSB) is opting to go with a staggered start, to the elementary school year in September, for those attending in class. “The Ministry [of education] has informed us that staggered starts will be allowed for the first two weeks of school, for students attending in-person. As a result, we will be implementing a staggered start for elementary in-person students for two weeks, instead of one week, as outlined in our update yesterday. We believe that this will help provide flexibility for families and help ease the transition of your child returning to school, along with learning the health and safety protocols that we will have in place,” read a statement from DDSB acting education director Norah Marsh, released on Wednesday, August 19th. Her statement explained, school principals will contact parents next week with more information on how this staggered start will happen. “At that time, you will have an opportunity to let the school principal know if your child(ren) require any special accommodations for the first two weeks of school. We kindly ask that you wait for your principal to outline ‘next steps’, as their focus this week continues to be on re-timetabling and staffing the school,” Ms. Marsh’s statement read. At a press conference on Friday, August 14th, Ontario education minister Stephen Lecce indicated the Ontario government will allow staggered starts to the school year. “If they want to do Kindergarten and Grade 1 on day 1 and then the Grades 2 and 3s the next day, sort of build that up to Friday, that is fair, and of course we understand the principle behind it, which is to minimize contact to maintain the integrity of these cohorts as they get into class. So that flexibility is being provided, and it is also being bolstered by additional investment,” Minister Lecce said.