Ontario Releases 2021 Back-to-School Plan: Mandatory Masks and Cohorts

2021 back-to-school plan in Ontario

The Ministry of Education released a 26-page document on August 3, 2021, outlining the 2021 back-to-school plan in Ontario. All students in Ontario will be able to return to the classroom full-time this September. For parents and students who do not feel comfortable attending in-person classes, remote learning will remain as an option.

 

Starting September, field trips, school assemblies and extracurricular activities will be permitted in all grades. While Grades 1 to 12 students are required to wear masks indoors, they are permitted to take them off when engaging in low contact indoor physical activities. On the other hand, masks will remain optional – but recommended – for children in kindergarten.

 

Inter-school sports will resume for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic, with high contact sports only allowed outdoors. Indoor music programming will also be allowed to resume with wind instruments and singing as long as two metres of distancing is maintained.

 

Cohorting in Elementary Schools and Middle Schools

Although the Education Minister Stephen Lecce repeatedly insisted that most school-related COVID-19 cases were contracted in the community rather than in the classroom, the 2021 back-to-school plan in Ontario calls for precautionary measures, including the return of a cohorting model in elementary and middle schools. K-8 students will need to remain in one cohort for the full day with one teacher. Members of different cohorts can interact outside, with distancing encouraged, or inside with distancing and masks. Students will be allowed to use common spaces like libraries and cafeterias. Specialized education staff such as French teachers are permitted to go into different classrooms and multiple schools.

 

New Measures in Secondary Schools

Secondary students can only be enrolled in no more than two courses at a time for the fall semester. This will allow school boards to easily revert to more restrictive measures if necessary. Exceptions to the two-course rule may be made for small schools where contacts can be limited by cohorting grades.

 

While the 2021 back-to-school plan in Ontario has listed requirements for the return to the classroom in the fall, there is no information about asymptomatic testing programs, details on how outbreaks might be handled, or exceptions made for vaccinated children. In fact, the final section of the report Management of COVID-19 in schools is left blank with a note ‘more details are forthcoming’ Thus, The Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario called the plan “incomplete and inadequate”.

 

Math Project provides specialized K-12 math programs, ensuring that our students have a smooth back-to-school transition. In fact, 87% of Math Project students reported significantly ahead of their math class in school after joining our program. For more updates on the 2021 back-to-school plan in Ontario or back-to-school tips, subscribe to Math Project’s monthly newsletter below! 

 

Citations:

Ontario releases 2021 school plan; field trips, assemblies and extracurriculars to resume – https://www.cp24.com/
Ontario unveils back-to-school plan for September. Here’s what you need to know – https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/
Masking, distancing to remain in place when students return to class 5 days a week this fall – https://www.680news.com/
Ontario’s back-to-school plan encouraging, but lacks vaccine policy: experts – https://globalnews.ca/
Ontario back-to-school plan: Mandatory masks indoors, vaccine status not required – https://toronto.citynews.ca/
COVID-19: Health, safety and operational guidance for schools (2021-2022) – https://www.ontario.ca/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *