Waterloo Catholic elementary schools will have staggered start this fall

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Ontario says it will be ‘flexible’ when it comes to reopening schools' Coronavirus: Ontario says it will be ‘flexible’ when it comes to reopening schools
Coronavirus: Ontario says it will be ‘flexible’ when it comes to reopening schools – Aug 17, 2020

Catholic elementary schools will begin the new year with a staggered start, according to a spokesperson for the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB).

COO John Shewchuk says the board’s senior leadership came to a decision late Thursday to implement a one-week staggered start at area public schools.

Read more: Bill Kelly: Ontario parents still have concerns about Ford’s back-to-school plan

“We need time to re-schedule and reconfigure our virtual school and we know that our youngest students will benefit from a little more time to get acclimatized to their new routines,” he explained.

Kindergarteners are already staggered at the start in local Catholic schools so they are unaffected by the move.

Students in Grades 1 and 2 will start Tuesday while Grades 3 and 4 will start Wednesday, Grades 5 and 6 Thursday and Grades 7 and 8 will start Friday.

Story continues below advertisement

Shewchuk says that there will be no change of plans for Catholic high schools in the area.

“Our secondary schools are going back on an adapted model which is already half the number of students, and most of our Grade 9s are experiencing our ‘Head Start’ program next week, so they will not begin on a staggered start,” he explained.

Shewchuk says virtual school will begin Sept. 14 in an effort to allow for scheduling/timetables to be built.

The board is still looking to see if it will need to hire additional teachers for the virtual schools and what funds it might need.

A spokesperson for the Waterloo Regional District School Board (WRDSB) says it remains undecided on how it will handle the start of the school year.

Read more: Coronavirus: Ontario allows boards to tap into reserve funds, 4 unions allege back-to-school plan breaks law

“We are investigating our options regarding a staggered start for students as it will help us in introducing and implementing our new health and safety procedures and routines for our students,” Alana Russell told Global News late Friday morning.

“We will communicate any details with staff and families once our plan for entry is confirmed.”

Story continues below advertisement

Late Tuesday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce told school boards across the province that they would be allowed to stagger the start of school over the first two weeks of the year.

Read more: Waterloo public school board makes masks mandatory for all students

“If there are changes to the staggered reopening, we ask boards to clearly communicate this to their parent community,” Lecce said in the memo to boards.

Previously, the government had told boards that they could stagger the start of school over the first week of the year if they felt it would help improve safety.

— With files from The Canadian Press