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Saskatchewan students return to class this fall free of COVID-19 restrictions

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan students return to class this fall free of COVID-19 restrictions' Saskatchewan students return to class this fall free of COVID-19 restrictions
WATCH: With COVID-19 restrictions lifted this summer throughout Saskatchewan, public health officials say it is safe for schools to resume traditional in-class learning this fall – Jul 23, 2021

Saskatchewan schools will be returning to normal this fall as COVID-19 restrictions will no longer be in place for the 2021-22 school year.

This means schools will not be required to have a masking policy in place or physical distancing measures.

Saskatchewan lifted all COVID-19 restrictions on July 11 with nearly 70 per cent of residents aged 12 and older received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Read more: Saskatchewan lifts all remaining COVID-19 public health restrictions

“Public health — at both local and provincial levels — has a long history and well-established model for working with the education sector,” said Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer in regards to the provincial safe schools plan released on July 8.

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“As always, the Office of the CMHO will continue to work with local Medical Health Officers across the province, and collaborate with schools, divisions and the Ministry of Education, to continuously offer advice on the mitigation and management of COVID-19 in the school setting.”

Aimée Stein-Gay is a mother in Saskatoon and an educational assistant.

“I really like the masks with the Delta variant around. I definitely think that anybody 12 and under probably should be wearing a mask just for safety,” Stein-Gay said.

Click to play video: 'What to expect when Saskatchewan lifts all public health orders' What to expect when Saskatchewan lifts all public health orders
What to expect when Saskatchewan lifts all public health orders – Jul 8, 2021

“With my son, he will be wearing a mask. He’s not immunized yet and I don’t want to take the risk.”

Outlined in the plan, Shahab refers to the belief “children ages 11 and under are not independently mobile, so if the vaccination rate is high in parents, families, friends and educators, that indirectly protects children ages 11 and under,” he said.

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“Schools have not been a major source of direct COVID-19 infection and the transmission rate is lower in schools than it is in the community.”

School sports, dance, drama, band and choir along with all other extracurricular activities will also be returning to normal.

Read more: Regina schools moving online for operational reasons, COVID-19 concerns

There are still some common practices that will remain in schools including rapid testing, enhanced cleaning and disinfection along with staff and students advised to stay home if feeling sick.

“Our longstanding track record of successfully working together has been further enhanced by our collaboration during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we remain committed to collaboration as we focus on a return to normal,” Shahab said.

Stein-Gay says she is looking forward to having the kids back in school.

“I know as a parent myself it was very difficult. Even though I am an educational assistant and I do this every day, it was very difficult to get my own kids to do work for me,” Stein-Gay said.

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“Wearing both hats, I respect how hard teachers work and it’s just very difficult for kids to learn at home and it’s so healthy to be in the classroom.”

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Provincial exams are also going to be optional for students in the 2021-22 school year.

The province said its current approach for the 2021-22 school year may change if cases spike.

Global News reached out to the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation who declined to comment.

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