back to school canada

This is what back-to-school plans look like in major cities across Canada

Back-to-school in Canada is starting to look a bit clearer after multiple provinces in Canada have released their school reopening plans, and — as the famous idiom about snowflakes goes — no two are exactly the same.

While some provinces have yet to release a comprehensive back-t0-school plan (looking at you, Quebec), Alberta, Ontario, and Manitoba have provided details on face mask requirements, class sizes and safety precautions this September.

Ranked from the most aggressive reopening plan to the most cautious, here's how five major cities across Canada compare when it comes to returning to school in September.

Winnipeg

Unlike many other cities, Winnipeg won't require students and staff to don face masks while at school, per a document released by the Manitoba government.

Classes will resume in person full-time, five days a week, for students in kindergarten through Grade 8, as well as students with special needs in all grades. High school students will also ideally be sent to class full-time, depending on circumstances.

All instruction will be limited to cohorts of 75 students.

Other precautions include staggered lunch and recess breaks, and enhanced cleaning protocols on school buses.

The document notes that arrangements will be needed for students at higher risk of COVID-19 due to an underlying health condition, but does not note what those arrangements will be. 

Vancouver

The city has yet to announce whether students will be expected to wear face masks while in class.

Classes will resume full-time in September, for students in kindergarten through Grade 12, per the B.C. government website.

Students will be divided into cohorts; children in elementary and middle schools will be separated into groups of 60, while high schools will be sorted in cohorts of 120 students.

The city has yet to release details on additional precautions or provisions for students with medical conditions.

Halifax

Like Winnipeg, Halifax will not require most students to wear face masks, except for on school buses and for students in Grade 10-12 who must wear masks "in spaces where physical distancing is not possible" (e.g. hallways, common areas).

Classes will resume in person full-time, five days a week, for students in kindergarten through Grade 12, as well as students with special needs in all grades. Each class will be treated as a cohort.

Other precautions include banning assemblies and large gatherings (e.g. students gathering in a cafeteria), per a document released by the Nova Scotia government.

Children with medical conditions can remain at home. Parents and guardians are asked to contact the school to "discuss what educational and student service supports are needed."

Calgary

Calgary will require all students in Grade 4-12, and all school staff, to wear face masks where physical distancing cannot be maintained (e.g. school buses, corridors), according to a plan released by the Calgary Board of Education (CBE).

The CBE hasn't placed a cap on class sizes, although the board encourages schools to use "cohorts" where possible.

Schools will also receive one reusable face shield, hand sanitizer and two contactless thermometers from the Alberta government.

Children with medical conditions can opt for Alberta's hub online learning approach, which is "a combination of online instruction and independent work" taught at home.

Toronto

Canada's most populous city will require all students in Grade 4-12 to wear face masks. Younger students will be encouraged, but not required, to wear a face-covering while in school, according to a plan released by the Toronto District School Board.

Students in kindergarten to Grade 8 will return to school full-time, as well as students with special needs in all grades, in a single cohort.

Highschool students will attend school in either the morning or afternoon, with learning continuing at home the other half of the day, in a "quadmester" structure. The in-person classes will take place in cohorts of about 15.

Other precautions include banning the use of lockers, all organized sport, assemblies, field trips and dances.

Children with medical conditions will also have the option to attend daily and staff will be provided with appropriate PPE. Remote learning where return to school is not possible will be available.

Lead photo by

Jeff Hitchcock


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