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Hamilton school board shares plans for reopening in September

Elementary and secondary schools were some of the first locations to have enforced closures as the COVID-19 lockdown started to tighten its grip on Ontario. While they were the first to close, it looks like they might also be some of the last to reopen. 

With many Hamilton residents eagerly awaiting the province’s plan for reopening schools in September, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) shared their three possible plans that were asked for by the provincial government back in the spring.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce are expected to make an announcement this week in regard to how schools might safely reopen at the beginning of the school year. 

Each school board in Ontario was asked to create plans for three possible scenarios that could happen in September. HWDSB shared their three proposed plans with the Hamilton community on Tuesday with the goal being to have students eventually return to school every day with advanced health and safety guidelines in place.

Opening schools like normal in September would come with enforced health and safety restrictions such as physical distancing of students, frequently washing hands with soap, and student health screenings.

An adaptive model would have students in a blended classroom between in-person and distance learning. Elementary students would be organized into cohorts of 15 students per class where Cohort A would attend school on Monday, Wednesday, and every other Friday and Cohort B would attend schools on Tuesday, Thursday and every other Friday. Secondary students would attend school with their assigned cohort and have a half day at school on one day for some courses and have half day of distanced learning with other courses. 

The third model would continue with the distanced learning that was put in place after the mandatory school closure after March Break. In this scenario, schools would remain closed and students would learn online similar to how they completed the 2019/20 school year. 

Although some plans for continuing with a normal school year have come out over the last few weeks, there’s still a lot of questions amongst educators and parents over the safety of the community by sending children and teachers back to school.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) have been vouching for additional funding from the government that would be for the purchase of appropriate PPE and other equipment that would keep educators safe. 

The provincial government has yet to announce the exact day that the plans will be released. 

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