Grand Erie board adopts staggered return to school plan

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The Grand Erie District School Board is taking a staggered entry approach for all elementary and secondary school students when school begins in September.

“Our staff have worked hard this summer to put plans in place for the new school year,” board chair Greg Anderson said in a statement released on Aug. 27.

“The safety and well-being of students is our highest priority and it will remain top of mind as we move forward together.”

The board said there will be no classes on Sept. 8 and 9.

Elementary schools will start in-class instruction as follows: Sept. 10 – students with last names beginning with letters A-L; Sept. 11 – students with last names beginning with letters M-Z; Sept. 14 – A-L students; Sept. 15 – M-Z students; Sept. 16 – all students moving forward.

Secondary schools will start in-class instruction as follows: Sept. 10 – Grade 9 students only; Sept. 11 – students with last names beginning with letters M-Z; Sept. 14 – students with last names beginning with letters A-L; Sept. 15 – all students moving forward.

During the staggered entry, siblings will be kept together in an effort to help families with child-care needs, the board said.

Elementary and secondary students in self-contained special education classes will return full-time, every day beginning Sept. 10.

“The staggered entry allows students to ease into their back-to-school routines, including new health and safety procedures for COVID-19,” said JoAnna Roberto, the board’s director of education.

“It also allows students and staff to get to know each other in smaller groups. We must remember that it’s been more than six months since they’ve been in the school together, so this is an important step in setting the tone for the year ahead.”

The board said it has changed its secondary quadmester model to fall in line with best practices across the province.

Students will still take two courses per quadmester. But instead of attending both classes daily, students will take one course per day for a full week. They will then alternate weekly between the two courses, Roberto said.

“The goal is to keep students in similar cohorts for an entire week,” she said. “This will assist our pubic health partners with contact tracing, should we be faced with a positive COVID-19 test.

“It also creates a strong learning environment for students who can focus on one course at a time.”

Meanwhile, the board created an online resource, Setting the Stage for Back-to School, which focuses on mental-health supports for parents and families to assist their children with the return to school,

This week, Grand Erie will provide more details to families regarding next steps for those who selected online learning for this fall.

Earlier, the Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic School Board announced changes to its plan for students to return to classes next month to follow Ministry of Education requirements.

The board said its secondary schools will be operated on a quadmester system and students will attend every day. But instead of taking two courses a day, they will take one. The two subjects will alternate weekly until the end of the term.

The board also said there will be a staggered start to the school year as permitted by the ministry.

Secondary students will return to school based on grade beginning Sept. 8. All in-class students will be fully returned to school by Sept. 16.