The Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board will be reopening schools over a two-week period, the board’s director of education announced Monday.
In a message to parents issued around 5:10 p.m. Monday, director of education Jennifer Leclerc said the school board will roll out a staggered start to the 2020-2021 school year over two weeks in mid-September.
She said the regular reopening has been pushed back to allow principals and school staff enough time to realign classroom sizes and staff assignments as well as to adjust to the more than 5,300 students who have chosen to stay home for online learning.
“Parents should be aware that this could potentially mean your child’s assigned teacher may change confirm and adjust secondary student timetables, especially for our Learn At Home students,” she said.
The staggered start will also allow for students to become familiar with the new pandemic-related school practices.
The two-week period will be as follows:
- Sept. 8-11 – Schools remain closed to students. Staff continue preparing the school for the new year.
- Sept. 14-18 – Student and class groups will attend school on different days to become familiar with classroom and school processes.
All students will be in attendance full-time on Friday, Sept. 18, the board said.
“This two-week period will provide all our staff the additional time we believe will be crucial for everyone to prepare their learning spaces, and finalize, understand and be comfortable with the many new routines that will be a part of the normal school day,” Lloyd said.
Finalized schedules will be shared with parents through the school as soon as possible.
“We know this will be disappointing to our families and students who are eager to get back to school with all their friends, but we need to take the time to get this right from the start.
Leclerc noted a change for secondary students which will see them still be in school all day but they will alternate their two subjects every week, instead of every day.
This means that students will take their Period 1 class every day for Week 1. Students will then take their Period 2 class every day the following week. This will continue alternating for the first quadmester.
She said while the board realizes it is an extended amount of time for students on each subject, the safety improvements of this model, however, are significant for the following reasons:
- Students can remain in a defined classroom for the entire week without travelling to another classroom, similar to the elementary model.
- Reduces the number of contacts and touchpoints for students and staff throughout the day, therefore students will not need to use two different desks during the same day.
- The possibility of schools implementing staggered breaks and lunches for students during the day, so that they can have a break from their classroom. The board’s previous plan was based on students remaining in their Period 1 classrooms for lunch.
“While our intent with the original school plan was to structure the school day safely for everyone through organized timetabling and limited movement, we feel this plan is a safer and better alternative,” Leclerc said.
Earlier this month, the school board approved $5.5 million from its reserves to hire additional custodial staff, to hire teachers to lower some class sizes, and to hire staff for virtual and online learning. The board is also looking at potentially leasing space for classes should there be no space in specific schools.
More to come.