Guelph’s public school board to hire 160 teachers to reduce class sizes

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The public school board in Guelph, Ont., says it will hire 160 teachers, require all students to wear masks and upgrade ventilation systems as students return to the classroom amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

With this new information, the Upper Grand District School Board is also allowing students and parents to change their original choice about learning in-person or remotely.

Read more: Masks will be mandatory for all Guelph public school students

The board announced its class size reduction strategies on Wednesday and it involves dividing larger kindergarten classes into two groups.

The board said it is also looking to hire about 60 teachers for elementary schools.

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Reducing class sizes at the secondary level is a little more complicated because high schools already operate at or near capacity and do not have space for additional classrooms.

Even with 1,000 students opting for full-time remote learning, a large percentage of classes will still have 30 or more students and the board said it would only be able to split a very small number of them.

The quadmester format will see students go to school five days a week but they will be divided into cohorts which will attend school either in the morning or afternoon.

Students will take two courses at a time and see the school year divided into four parts.

Read more: Guelph high schools to use ‘quadmester’ timetable in September

Students will attend their Period 1 class for one week, Period 2 the week after and rotate for the 10-week term. Students with a spare in either Period 1 or 2 would essentially have a week off school every other week.

There will be no exams at the end of each quarter.

The board is looking to hire about 100 additional teachers to support high schools.

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All students, staff and visitors will be required to wear masks inside schools and on buses at all times. Exemptions are in place for medical reasons.

Staff are expected to handle students not wearing a mask by focusing on education and reinforcing positive behaviours.

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The board also said its staff are doing work on the schools’ ventilation systems. Tasks like filter changes and inspections are being done.

The board has purchased 300 air filtration units that can be used in windowless rooms and other areas to improve air quality.

Read more: Ontario schools in COVID-19 hotspots should have proactive testing, former minister says

Since all of these announcements were made after the deadline for students to choose in-person or remote learning, the board is allowed for decision changes up until Sunday at 4 p.m.

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More information can be found on the board’s website.

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