Manitoba’s back-to-school plan, announced Thursday, garnered mixed reactions, but how does it compare to other provinces?
Manitoba’s top doctor Brent Roussin said students will return to school in September, and distancing along with masks will be recommended but not mandated.
“It’s very important to get the kids back into school in as much a normal fashion as possible,” he said.
The province added that children from kindergarten to Grade 6 will remain in cohorts while students in grades 7-12 will be co-mingling.
Remote learning will be used as a last resort but students who are immunocompromised have the option to learn from home.
In Saskatchewan, kids will be returning to a completely normal school environment with no COVID-19 restrictions.
“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,” said that province’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab in the plan outline.
“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,” he added.
As per the province’s plan schools will not be required to have a masking policy in place or physical distancing measures, and online learning will still be an option if circumstances call for it.
Alberta is taking the same approach as outlined in the plan that was released online back in July.
Alberta’s Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange made the below statement within the document:
“I’m pleased that students can expect a return to a normal school year in September. With the continuation of Alberta’s Open for Summer plan, Alberta’s government expects the extensive health measures currently in place in schools will be eased or lifted.”
More information on Alberta’s plan is set to be released sometime in August.
Quebec would also like to get kids back to the classroom and back to normalcy and will be doing away with the mask mandate and physical distancing for students and staff. The province’s plan will be updated sometime in August.
British Columbia has not put out any more information regarding what their school year could look like since this document was posted back in June by the BC Centre for Disease Control.
“It is anticipated that schools can return to close-to-normal operations, with some health and safety measures continuing to be in place to keep schools as low-risk settings for COVID-19.” The document says.
Ontario on the other hand is playing things very cautiously according to its recently announced plan.
Face coverings will be required indoors for students in grades 1 through 12, while kindergarteners will be encouraged but not mandated to wear masks.
At the elementary school level, students will be cohorted for the full day and, when possible, with one teacher.
The guidance document says cohorts can mix outside — so long as there is distancing — and students can use common spaces like libraries, so long as existing public health guidance is followed.
According to Nunavut’s reopening plan schools will be opening at full capacity with in-person learning for all students.
The schools will be following risk mitigation strategies for the school environment such as physical distancing, use of the cohort system, and enhanced cleaning measures.
In terms of masks, the document states that the decision is up to the Chief Public Health Officer, should the requirement be lifted the Department of Education
requires approved visitors who are not fully vaccinated to wear masks while in the school.
Yukon, New Brunswick, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Northwest Territories have not released their back-to-school plans as of yet.