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Coronavirus: New TDSB elementary school plan mandates smaller classes, all students to wear masks

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Toronto District School Board approves revised back-to-school plan' Coronavirus: Toronto District School Board approves revised back-to-school plan
WATCH ABOVE: The Toronto District School Board has approved a back-to-school plan with more than three weeks to go until the start of school. Miranda Anthistle has the details.

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has a new plan for bringing elementary students back to classrooms after the Ontario government rejected a previous proposal.

In an update provided by a TDSB spokesperson Thursday evening, trustees approved a variety of motions and initiatives earlier in the day.

For neighbourhoods where there is a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, schools in those areas will see JK and SK classes capped at 15 students and students between Grades 1 and 8 will be capped at 20 students.

For all other schools, JK and SK classes will be capped at 26 students, students between Grades 1 and 3 will be capped at 20 and students between Grades 4 and 8 will be capped at 27.

Read more: New TDSB plan cuts class sizes in neighbourhoods with highest risk of COVID-19

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For students who participate virtually, there will be caps of 29 students in JK and SK classes, 20 students between Grades 1 and 3 and 35 students between Grades 4 and 8.

Trustees approved spending more than $30 million to hire 366 more teachers and redeploy 400 teachers to lower class sizes and to “help improve student and staff safety in our schools.”

When it comes to physical space needs, if every TDSB elementary student returned in person 34 schools would not have enough space under current coronavirus-related guidelines. If 80 per cent of students returned in person, four schools would be short of space.

The City of Toronto has offered the TDSB and the Toronto Catholic District School Board access to several facilities if need be.

READ MORE: Toronto District School Board looks to make masks mandatory for all students

Meanwhile, all students and staff returning to school will be required to wear face masks or coverings. The spokesperson said the decision was made in accordance with Toronto Public Health guidelines, which require anyone over two years old to wear a face mask or covering in indoor public areas if they don’t have a medical exemption.

Extra outdoor breaks will be given to students to allow a break for students.

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Parents of TDSB students will be asked during the week of Aug. 24 to confirm if they’re sending their children to attend school or if their children will stay home to learn online in an effort to help the TDSB plan.

The school year is set to begin on Sept. 15 and different grades will see a staggered start over the course of a few days.