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Simcoe County public school board releases back-to-school plan as COVID cases climb

Click to play video: 'Concern for back-to-school as COVID-19 case count rises in Ontario' Concern for back-to-school as COVID-19 case count rises in Ontario
WATCH: Parents are sounding the alarm over COVID-19 health concerns as students across the province gear up for a return to the classroom. – Aug 24, 2021

The Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) has released its 2021-2022 return-to-classes plan as COVID-19 cases steadily climb throughout the region and province.

Looking toward the upcoming school year, the board said the health and well-being of students and staff is a “top priority” and that it’s constantly working with the local public health unit to take direction on all matters related to the pandemic.

Read more: Ontario’s back-to-school plan encouraging, but lacks vaccine policy: experts

This year, students and staff will be required to complete a COVID-19 self-assessment daily before entering school buildings. Students who must stay at home due to COVID-19 symptoms will have access to learning materials that are provided by their teachers on one of the assigned digital learning platforms.

All students from kindergarten through Grade 12, as well as staff, will be required to wear masks indoors. Hand sanitizer will also be provided in each classroom for students and teachers.

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The school board said it has “fully functional mechanical ventilation systems” at all its schools, which meet all industry standards, including the use of MERV 13 filters — the highest-rated system filters available.

According to the SCDSB, enhanced cleaning protocols will be in place and school environments will be set up to enforce physical distancing.

Read more: Back-to-school online learning numbers higher in Ontario’s COVID-19 hot spots

“Supports for student mental health and well-being, including mental health and wellness promotion and prevention and intervention strategies, will continue to be provided by SCDSB staff,” the back-to-school plan read.

“Available options include brief intervention services, wellness check-ins and referrals to community mental health services.”

Both elementary and high schools will reopen under a conventional school day model with enhanced public health protocols and cohorting in place.

Several months ago, families had the option to select a remote learning option for both elementary and high school students. Students will only be able to change their learning mode if they wish at the start of the second term.

Simcoe County families can read the full plan on the school division website.

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