Here's everything you need to know about heading back to school in Waterloo Region

·3 min read

A pandemic school year can feel complicated. So Cambridge Times put together a list of resources of important things you need to know heading back into the school year, from mental health resources to school protocols.

COVID SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

Students will be required to complete a daily COVID-19 screening using the Ontario school screening tool. All Waterloo Region District School Board students from kindergarten to Grade 12 are required to wear masks, and will be provided with five reusable masks. Masks are also required on all school buses. School buses will be disinfected and receive extra cleaning. If a parent has concerns about mask exemptions, they should contact the principal of their school to discuss. Schools may also explore the options of face shields, if a student is having trouble wearing a mask. \

Younger students will be assisted with handwashing hygiene. Students will be advised to wash their hands when they arrive at school, before they leave, after sneezing and coughing, using common supplies or moving in between different learning environments. For parts of the school that don’t have proper mechanical ventilation, high-efficiency particulate air filters have been installed to improve ventilation.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD GETS SICK

The COVID symptoms that will get your child sent home from school are: fever/chills; coughing or barking cough; shortness of breath; loss of taste or smell; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. If your child’s sibling is fully vaccinated, they are allowed to continue attending classes, even if their sibling is displaying symptoms.

If your child becomes sick, you must immediately keep them home from school and have them take a COVID test. If your child tests negative, they can return to school 24 hours after their symptoms begin improving. If they choose not to get tested, they must isolate for 10 days.

MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

If students are experiencing mental health struggles of any kind, they are encouraged to contact their school receptionist, where they will be put in touch with a social worker from the Waterloo Region District School Board. Parents can also access mental health resources such as the Caregivers Guide to Accessing Support For Students With Anxiety and the Maintaining Mental Wellness During COVID-19 resource on the Waterloo Region District School Board’s website under the Wellness and Mental Health Resources section.

Students at the Waterloo Catholic District School Board can access mental health resources on the Waterloo Catholic District School Board’s website under the Mentally Healthy Return to School Page and the Mental Health and Wellbeing page.

WHAT SCHOOL WILL LOOK LIKE, DAY TO DAY

Students in kindergarten to Grade 12 will operate in cohorts, and will receive 300 minutes of face-to-face teacher instruction for all subjects, with two staggered 40 minute nutrition breaks.

Grade 1 to 8 remote learners will receive 225 minutes of live instruction each day with 75 minutes of independent learning each day. Remote learners in kindergarten will receive 180 minutes of live learning each day and 120 minutes of independent learning.

All extracurriculars will resume as outlined by provincial guidelines. School choir and band will resume with wind instruments as part of the activities. For all indoor extracurriculars, masks are required. Masks are not required for any outdoor sports or extracurriculars.

High school students will be utilizing a modified semester model, which includes two courses each day for a total of four courses per semester. Students will take two courses one week, and take their other two courses the following week in a rotating system that includes 150 minutes of instruction per courses. High school students will no longer be cohorted into groups of 15, and will return to regular in-person learning in terms of class sizes. Remote high school learners will follow the same modified semester model with 150 minutes of instruction per course. School buses will operate at full capacity.

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Genelle Levy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cambridge Times

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