Province announces return to school plans for September 2020

Province announces return to school plans for September 2020
Posted on 08/04/2020

July 30, 2020_Today the Ministry of Education announced plans for return to school in September. Highlights are shown below starting at Highlights from the Ministry of Education Reopening Plan.

The priority of Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board is the safety and well-being of students, families and staff, particularly as we prepare for the return to school in September. We know that the first day of school will be filled with a combination of excitement and anxiety due to COVID-19 combined with the length of time students have been away from school. The first day school for all students is Thursday, September 3, 2020.

"We appreciate the direction from the Ministry of Education about reopening schools in September. Now that we have this information, we can finalize plans for all HPEDSB schools. We know that that students, parents/guardians and staff may be feeling anxious during these uncertain times. We are doing our best to be nimble in order to adjust to this dynamic situation and commit to providing updates as timely as possible," said Sean Monteith, Director of Education.

The safety and well-being of students and staff are the foundation of our school re-opening planning and decision making. Return to school plans are based on advice, guidance and directives of the Ministry of Education and the provincial health officials, and are in consultation with local public health officials. Staff are working closely with public health, our neighbouring school boards, Tri-Board Student Transportation Services, community partners and staff.

Staff will be focusing on everyday strategies to support educators and students for a mentally healthy return to school, encourage inclusivity, build trust and create the optimal conditions for learning and development.

The decision to send children to school remains the choice of parents/guardians. HPEDSB always respects and honours that parent choice. In the coming days, outreach will occur with parents/guardians to assist in understanding the number of students to be in school in September.

"We realize that the decision to send children to school is an incredibly difficult one. To prepare our schools to be as best and responsive as possible, we will be contacting families in the days ahead to get an idea of parent intentions," said Monteith.


Highlights from the Ministry of Education Reopening Plan

Elementary schools

  • Elementary schools will reopen with conventional in-person delivery of teaching and instruction, with enhanced health and safety protocols
  • Elementary school students in Kindergarten to Grade 8 will attend school five days per week, with 300 minutes of instruction per day, remaining in one cohort (learning group) for the full day, including recess and lunch
  • Cohorted classes will stay together and with one teacher, where possible. Students can expect to see changes in the timing of recesses, lunches, and bathroom breaks as they are staggered to support cohorting
  • Specialized teachers, like French teachers, will still be able to go into classrooms to provide the full breadth of programming for students
  • Students will also be able to leave their classrooms to receive additional supports but direct and indirect contacts in schools for students should be limited to approximately 50
  • School boards will provide the full range of elementary curriculum, including the new Grades 1-8 Mathematics curriculum

Secondary schools

  • All school boards are encouraged to adopt timetabling methods that emphasize cohorting (learning group) of students as much as possible, to limit the number of student-to- student contacts
  • In order to reduce risk of transmission and to support contact tracing, school boards are to develop timetables that over a 1 to 2-week period:
    • limit indirect and direct student contacts to approximately 100 students in the school; and
    • are encouraged to keep secondary school students in a maximum of two in- person class cohorts
  • Secondary schools in non-designated school boards, such as HPEDSB, will be permitted to open with conventional delivery, with enhanced health and safety protocols

Multiple strategies to support healthy and safe environments for students and staff

  • Self screening
  • Adapted school environments
  • Hand hygiene
  • Masking
    • Students in Grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear non-medical or cloth masks while in school
    • Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be encouraged but not required to wear masks in common spaces
    • Medical masks will be provided for teachers and all school staff
    • Schools boards are able to establish reasonable exceptions
  • Cohorting
  • Distancing
  • Limiting visitors in schools
  • Pre-registration

Support for families

  • Parents will make decisions regarding in-person attendance for their children for this school year and will have the option of remote (online) learning
  • Students with a high level of special education needs who are unable to study remotely will be permitted daily attendance and instruction

School health monitoring system

  • A new school health monitoring system will be established through a partnership between the ministries of Health and Education, school boards and local public health to monitor and respond to reports of COVID-19 symptoms. Students or staff who develop COVID-19 symptoms will immediately be separated from others
  • Staff and parents/guardians will be directed to consult their health provider and will be provided with COVID-19 testing locations. Persons who test positive may not return to school until they are cleared by public health. Persons who test negative can return one they are symptom-free for 24 hours
  • Schools will immediately report any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19
  • Schools will ensure records of classes, transported students and visitors are maintained and readily available to be provided to public health for contact tracing
  • School staff will receive training on required processes and procedures
  • The ministries of Education and Health are working together to provide testing capacity to keep schools safe and treat any affected student or teacher/staff member


"As a parent myself, I fully appreciate how confusing these times are for students and families. Terms such as cohorting, distancing and adaptive learning add more confusion. We remain steadfastly committed to reassuring our parents/guardians that the number one priority is the safety of their children, our students, our staff and our families," added Monteith.

As with controlling the spread of other viruses, we urge you to speak to your child about the following prevention measures:

  • Wash your hands regularly, especially after using the restroom and before preparing or consuming food. Using soap and hot water, wash for about 20 seconds. Be sure to also wash your fingertips.
  • Avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands or in the air. Always try to cough or sneeze into a tissue, and then throw the tissue away. If you don't have a tissue, cough/sneeze into your arm.
  • As much as you can, avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.

In the coming days, this web page will outline important information for students, parents/guardians about what a school day will look like, health and safety protocols, well-being resources and more.

Some COVID-19 links are below. Refer to the COVID-19 webpage for additional information.

COVID-19 resources

FAQs for COVID-19, closures, mental health and well-being resources and more


Kids Help Phone
Text CONNECT to 686868


Financial resources

Find financial help during COVID-19

The Hastings and Prince Edward Learning Foundation assists families with emergency items


At-home learning resources

No-tech learning activities of the week: newspaper ads

Learning at home, HPEDSB online resources


Tips sheets from School Mental Health Ontario

For more information, please contact:
Kerry Donnell, Communications Manager, 613.966.1170 or 1.800.267.4350, extension 62354, [email protected]