Parents will have to wait a little longer to find out whether their high school students will be going to school every day.
George Daley, the deputy minister of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, said some rural schools will not have to alternate days at home.
And some students with complex needs will also have to go every day, Daley said during Thursday's live-streamed back-to-school update for parents.
He said that would include students who "need particular routines," those with "challenging home situations," food insecurity, or those who need regular mental health support.
Parents of those students will hear from education officials some time between Aug. 31 and Sept. 4, said Daley.
He said the schedule for the province's roughly 70 schools with students in Grades 9 to 12 will vary depending on how much space they have for physical distancing. Those with enough space will continue with daily attendance.
So far, those schools have not been identified.
Daley made one thing abundantly clear — days that high school students spend at home are not vacation days. Teachers will be asked to track attendance and participation of the students while they're at home.
Students will be invited to bring their own device to assist with the days they are at home, said Daley.
He said there is no one model for how the two groups will work together, but they could learn at the exact same time using technology like Microsoft Teams that can connect those at home with the classroom.
"It could be a synchronous learning situation where the students are connected for the entire class period," explained Daley. "It could be a model where they are doing group work, that the teacher would be assigning material that the group at home would be would be connecting and doing research or collaborating."
He said it will be up to individual teachers, based on their class's needs, to develop models that work for them.
Daley said he's proud that New Brunswick is the first jurisdiction in the country to introduce a bring-your-own device program for schools.
"The choice to go with the BYOD allowed us then that flexibility of ensuring that we had the one-metre spacing inside of our classrooms, which has been recommended by the World Health Organization from the very start of the pandemic."
He said that approach also allows students to attend school every other day
"And if we ever do get to the point that we have to shut a school down again, shut a class down again, that we can seamlessly step out of this and go to full online learning."
Community learning locations
For those in rural areas without internet service, Daley said the department is working on finding alternate learning spaces, which could include community facilities. He promised more information on that in the coming weeks.
Parents can find more information in the department's Return to School: Guide for Parents and the Public. And the Return to School: Direction for School Districts and Schools outlines the requirements schools and school districts must meet.
It's game on for all school sports, although they'll be played in front of fewer spectators, and potentially with fewer players as well.
For all outdoor sports, spectators will be limited to 50, while no one will be allowed to watch indoor sports.
If a sport has a governing body, then the return-to-play rules of that organization will guide the activities, although the education department's ban on spectators inside will trump whatever the governing bodies say about spectators.
In K-8, games will be played between geographically close schools in order to try to limit the amount of travel.
Intramural sports will be allowed from K-8 within classroom bubbles, and in high school, only when physical distancing is possible, Daley announced on Tuesday.
In the event that the province moves from its current Yellow phase back to Orange or Red, all intramural sports will be suspended.
Physical education classes will resume for all grade levels, although teachers will be encouraged to use outdoor spaces when possible, Daley said earlier this week.
Students in K-8 will stay within their class grouping, or bubble, and not have to physically distance, which is the same rule that applies in classrooms.
Class groupings, however, will have to stay two metres away from other groups, and if two groups are using the gym at the same time, a divider or curtain may be used to keep them separated, Daley said.
High school students, however, will have to keep one metre away from everyone else — just as they will have to inside the classroom.
Equipment will be disinfected after each use, said Daley, and if that's not possible, the equipment will not be used.
Daley said most extracurricular school activities, including field trips, will go ahead but those that can be done virtually, like school governance meetings, will be encouraged to do so.
The next public briefing on the province's back-to-school plan will be held on Tuesday.
Schools will open on Sept. 8 on a staggered-start basis for students, and most high school students will spend alternating days at home and at school.