There are three scenarios for the 2020-2021 school year and Scenario One (best case scenario) sees students in Newfoundland and Labrador heading back into schools come September. The provincial government released its K-12 Re-entry Plan today.
Scenario One will happen based on public health advice when the risk of Covid-19 transmission is very low. School districts will follow health measures for student learning and extra-curricular activities, including physical distancing when possible. Virtual learning and other forms of structured learning must be in place for student who are required to stay home because they are sick or in isolation due to Covid-19 infection or exposure.
Scenario Two will be initiated when the risk of Covid-19 is low to moderate. Scenario two has students in-school classes partially resuming, a minimum of 30-50% in-class instruction with a balance of learning will be online/remote. Priority is for in-class instruction for all K-6 students, further priority will be given to children of essential workers required to report to work under the province’s Alert Level 4 and 5. For students with exceptionalities there will be 100% in-school participation for students with identified needs and those who require additional supports, the the extent possible.
Scenario Three is at-home learning continues (in-school classes are suspended/cancelled), this scenario will only happen in the event of moderate to widespread transmission of Covid-19. Teachers may still be required by school districts to be in attendance at school, unless that school has been ordered closed by public health. For students with exceptionalities, teachers and other staff (e.g., speech language pathologists, educational psychologists, teachers of the deaf/hard of hearing or blind/visually impaired) will provide specialized supports and services to students, including those with disabilities, in consultation with families, in order to support learning outcomes at home, while avoiding direct contact to protect students’ and staff health.
Public exams will continue to be mandatory through Scenario’s one and two, scenario three will have government considering the administration of public examinations based on the duration of the cancellation or in-school classes. The same is implementation would apply to the Grades 3,6 and 9 Provincial Reading and Mathematics Assessments.
STUDENT TRANSPORTATION: BUSING/ PICK UP AND DROP-OFF
School districts will have to determine transportation service levels, ensuring that all students eligible for busing are transported in accordance with government policies for scenario one and two. Additional safety measure to minimize the risk of exposure to the driver and students may be taken, this includes: a protective physical divider may be considered for the driver; fixed seating plans with log sheets must be implemented to assist contact tracing; where possible students from the same family should sit together; and where possible, maintain physical distancing between students.
Schools must develop procedures for drop-off/pick-up that support physical distancing when possible and are to consider strategies such as staggering drop-off and pick-up times and locations.
EXTRA-CURRICULAR AND OTHER ACTIVITIES
School districts will continue to have the flexibility to offer extra-curricular activities to students. Government is working with the Department of Health to explore possibilities for athletic activities and events within the context of health measures in place. Schools are recommended to offer as many of their usual clubs and activities as possible.
Before staff and student leave for school everyday they must self-screen for symptoms each day that they enter schools. Parents are recommended to become familiar with the screening tool. Schools will be keeping records of children’s known pre-existing conditions, if a child develops symptoms that could be caused by either COVID-19 or by a known pre-existing condition (e.g., allergies), the child should be tested for COVID-19 to confirm that it is not the source of their symptoms before entering or returning to school. Staff members, parents, and students must not enter the school if they have symptoms of COVID-19.
Schools must develop procedures to address staff that become symptomatic during the school day to allow that staff member to leave the school for the time recommended by the health authorities. If a student develops symptoms while at the school, the student should be isolated in a separate room. The parent/guardian should be notified to come and pick up the student immediately. If a separate room is not available, the student should be kept at least 2 metres away from other students.
Government is advising two metres of physical space should be maintained between desks, to the extent possible. When two metres isn’t possible between desks, the greatest possible spacing is recommended. Where physical distancing can’t be maintained there will be an extra emphasis on hand hygiene, cough etiquette, not participating when sick and cleaning and disinfecting on a regular bases before and after activities is strongly recommended.
Schools must institute controls to promote physical distancing between all attendees in areas in and outside of the classroom, including hallways, washrooms, and common areas. This may include: Staggering start and end-times for classes to avoid crowded hallways; Posting signs, using stanchions and marking floors; Removing and re-staging seating in public areas to prevent gathering; and Considering limiting bathroom occupancy at any one time.