Coronavirus: Ontario elementary students to return full-time, hybrid learning for most high schools

July 31, 2020

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce unveiled on Thursday the province’s back-to-school plans for students in the fall.

Ford and Lecce said students will be returning on Sept. 8, with elementary students returning full-time to in-class learning, while high school students will see a hybrid-model using cohorts of 15 students that will see them learning half in-class and half online with enhanced safety procedures. This will include Grade 4 to 12 students being required to wear non-medical or cloth masks while in school and encouraging those in Grade 3 and younger to wear masks in common spaces.

Asked about distancing measures, Lecce said that physical distancing of at least one metre will be in place for when schools return in “conjunction” with mask-wearing and hand hygiene. Asked why cohorts would not take place in elementary schools, Lecce said health advice received says there is a higher risk among students in high school, but added mandatory mask policies in elementary school will help in protecting those in schools safe.

The premier was also asked about teachers not wanting to return to schools due to safety concerns, to which Ford responded that they will respect the right to not go back, but they “need the teachers to come to class when possible.”

Ford announced on Wednesday that Toronto and Peel Region would be able to move on to Stage 3 in the province’s reopening plan on Friday, July 31.

Windsor-Essex, the final region in Ontario, will remain in Stage 2.

On Thursday, the province reported 89 new cases of COVID-19 and three new deaths.

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