19 June 2020 – Ontario releases plans for reopening schools in September 2020

Type of Intervention: Regulation, Specific Action
Sectors Involved: Education, Health
Level of Jurisdiction: Ontario
Lead People/Agency: Premier Doug Ford; Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams; Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce; health experts on the COVID-19 Command Table; Medical experts at the Hospital for Sick Children; partners in the education sector, frontline workers, parents, and students.

Overview: The Ontario government released their safety plan for resumption of schooling for the 2020-21 academic year. The plan outlines how students and staff can safely return to the classroom in September 2020, and includes providing choice to parents, enhancing online learning, and investing additional monies into public education. School boards and individual schools are being asked to develop plans for alternative scenarios that may need to be implemented when school starts, depending on the ongoing COVID-19 situation in the province. There are three scenarios that the government is asking school boards to plan for:
1. Normal school day with enhanced public health protocols, with students attending every day in classes that reflect standard class size regulations.
2. A modified school day routine, adapting delivery to allow for physical distancing and limiting student cohorts to no more than 15 students in a typical classroom at one time. This would require alternate day or week delivery to a segment of the class at a time, and requires adopting methods to allow students to remain in contact with classmates and a single teacher for as much of the school day as possible.
3. At home learning/remote delivery. If school closures are extended, or if parents choose not to send their child back to school, school boards should have a remote education plan in place. This includes online delivery to the greatest extent possible, including establishing minimum expectations for students to have direct contact with their teacher at the same time, on a regular basis, known as synchronous learning.
The Ontario government also announced a $4 million investment into the enhancement of cleaning and financial support to hire additional custodial staff in September. School boards are required to submit their proposed safety plans to the Ministry of Education by August 4th, 2020, and the Ministry will provide feedback from a formalized table of medical experts.
Full details here: https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/06/ontario-prepares-for-the-safe-reopening-of-schools.html

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Type of Justification: Advice of INTERNAL government advisory committee or group, Advice of EXTERNAL expert advisor or advisory committee
Source of Evidence or Justification: Sub-national, Chief Medical Officer of Health; health experts on the COVID-19 Command Table; medical experts from the Hospital for Sick Children
Evidence/Justification: The Ontario government explained that the plan was developed with extensive consultation with the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, health experts on the COVID-19 Command Table, medical experts at the Hospital for Sick Children, and partners in the education sector, parents, students, and frontline workers. Safety is identified as the guiding principle for the creation of the plan, and risk mitigation is identified as a key consideration. It is further explained that careful planning is important for the mental and developmental health of children and youth, in addition to their academic success.