Counsel July 30, 2020: COVID-19 Update Ontario Announces the Reopening of Schools, Childcare Update and Action on Justice Gillese’s Long-Term Care Recommendations

COVID-19 Update Ontario Announces the Reopening of Schools, Childcare Update and Action on Justice Gillese’s Long-Term Care Recommendations July 30, 2020 Good Evening, Education Overview Today the provincial government announced that all publicly funded elementary schools will open on a full-time basis starting September 8, 2020. Most secondary schools will reopen under an adapted model, including a staged class schedule. In-person school attendance will be optional for the 2020/2021 school year. The government is immediately investing $309 million to hire 500 public health nurses to be placed in schools, 900 custodians, and to provide PPE and cleaning supplies for schools. All staff at the province’s 4,800 schools will be provided with medical masks. Ontario’s Guide to Reopening Ontario’s Schools outlines the province’s implementation. Parents will have the option of choosing online schooling at home if they are uncomfortable sending their children back to class. There is an expectation that educators who are unable to teach in person will provide instruction online. Cloth masks will become mandatory for students in grades 4 to 12 in all shared areas, including hallways and classrooms, and when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. There is an exception for students with relevant health issues. Masks will be encouraged, but not mandatory for students in grade 3 and below. The province is also investing another $10 million of net new funding for mental health and $15 million to increase students’ access to technology as remote learning will continue to be an option for the 2020/2021 school year. The back to school plan for both elementary and secondary students will evolve based on the evolution of COVID-19 and the...

Face masks mandatory for Ontario students starting in Grade 4

Face masks mandatory for Ontario students starting in Grade 4 https://www.thestar.com/politics/provincial/2020/07/30/face-masks-mandatory-for-ontario-students-starting-in-grade-4.html “Ontario will be the first province to mandate that students, starting in Grade 4, wear face masks all day when they return to school this fall — with younger kids also encouraged to do so. Kids in all elementary grades will return full-time, as will secondary students in some smaller boards. But teens in large urban boards — including all public and Catholic boards in Greater Toronto — will be in school half-time and learning online from home the rest of the time, Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced Thursday. The recommendations are based on advice from experts — and actually go even further than the experts by requiring masks for older kids — who say that research shows younger children don’t transmit the COVID-19 virus as easily as teens and adults. The province, however, is not implementing any physical distancing requirements, and says classes in elementary will resume as is, with 20 students from Grades 1 to 3, and an average of 24-25 students in Grades 4 to 8 — though averages mean some classes are much larger than that. High school students, however, will be in cohorts of 15 when they are in school on alternate-day or otherwise modified schedules. (The Toronto public board has proposed “quadmesters,” where students take two classes at a time for just over two months, attending each day for half a day.) A full-time return to school for elementary students is seen as key to helping parents return to work as the economy reopens, and a number of boards had urged the...