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Ontario provides back to school plan

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

NORTH DURHAM/KAWARTHA: This year’s school year could look a little more normal, as the Ontario government recently revealed their back-to-school plan.

The plan stated, “students will attend in-person learning daily for the full school day” in elementary and secondary schools, but “remote learning will remain an option.”

Students in Grades 1 to 12, will have to wear masks in school classrooms, hallways and on buses.

“Students in kindergarten are encouraged, but not required, to wear non-medical or cloth masks in indoor spaces, as well as on school vehicles,” the plan reads.

Masks will not be required to be worn outdoors.

For schools having fully mechanical ventilation, those boards will be required to use “the highest-grade filters possible” and “undertake frequent filter changes, throughout the school year.”

“For schools or parts of schools without mechanical ventilation, school boards are expected to place standalone high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter units in all classrooms and learning environments, including classrooms, gyms, libraries, lunchrooms, child care spaces, administrative spaces and portables with no or poor mechanical ventilation, before students return to class,” the plan stated.

One part of the plan, which had been criticized by opposition parties, was the lack of advice on what to do if there’s an outbreak. But, reportedly, the government recently provided that guidance.

“We did receive, just today, updated guidance on case and contact and outbreak management of COVID-19 cases within schools,” Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit local medical officer Dr. Natalie Bocking told reporters, on Wednesday, August 11th. “It was the outstanding piece of the puzzle we were waiting for, to look at what our public health response was going to be.” She also highlighted a bit of information from the guidance document.

“Should there be somebody in their class that’s identified to have COVID-19, those [fully vaccinated] individuals will not have to isolate or be dismissed from school. Those individuals not vaccinated will have to do the ten days of isolation, as they’ve been identified as a high-risk contact,” Dr. Bocking explained.

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