PDSB Parents and students anxious over school reopening plans

Students have been away from physical classrooms for six months and the back to school plans across the province seems to be changing daily. Students in the Peel District School Board were expecting to be back in the classroom on September 8th, however, the start of the academic year will be staggered for students. Students will be returning gradually and attending orientations sessions during the weeks of September 8th and 14th.

Elementary school students (K-8) who plan on physically attending classes will have two full-day orientations between September 9-15 based on their last name, with the regular school year starting on September 16. High school students will attend an orientation between September 8-11, and classes will start on September 14.

For all PDSB students who will be learning from home, orientation will take place on September 9-10, and classes will begin on September 14.

Results from a survey sent out in August indicate that 26% of PDSB students (approximately 40,000 students) will be continuing their education through online distance learning. The school board has yet to release a comprehensive plan on how online students will be supported.

Over 2 thirds of elementary students will be physically going back to school this fall in Peel. Source: Peel District School Board
The majority of high school students will be physically going back to school this fall in Peel. Source: Peel District School Board

The provincial government has indicated that they are working with local health units if they believe that the start of school needs to be delayed. Ontario schools will be receiving an additional $131 million to enhance the province’s reopening plans.

“Getting 2 million students, getting hundreds of thousands of support staff back to school in September is not the easy thing to do, but the right thing to do because our students learn better in the structure of a classroom,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford during an announcement made on August 26th.

The provincial government also released the Operational Guidance: COVID-19 Management in Schools plan. The aim of the plan is to help schools identify and isolate suspected COVID-19 cases. The guide includes detailed instructions on how to deal with a variety of scenarios in the case that a student, staff or visitor of the school has COVID-19.

If there is a positive case, the school community will be notified, and the class cohorts may be tested, sent home, or even paused until the local health officer has declared the outbreak to be over. Those that have tested positive will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. Teachers will be responsible to provide continued learning for the positively tested student(s).

Families across Peel are still very concerned. Karen Dancy, who chairs the Parent Council at her child’s school said during a recent Education Townhall that although she will be sending her kids back to school, she is fully prepared to pull them out if.

An online workshop (Ready, Set, School: Starting School During COVID-19) was recently held by the Malton Neighbourhood EarlyOn program to help prepare parents of younger kids on how to prepare:

Graphics provided by: Ananya Jaikumar