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Ontario to make back-to-school announcement after SickKids offers new guidelines

Ontario will unveil plans on Thursday on how students will go back-to-school in Ontario after SickKids released an updated guide today.

Some of the guidelines mentioned include mandatory mask wearing for older students, staggered lunch periods, separated desks to follow social distancing measures, and no large assemblies.

The document is an updated version that expands on some COVID-19 recommendations previously released by SickKids, as back-to-school time in September is approaching.

The guidelines suggest various safety strategies and measures that differ between the age groups of students.

The guidelines also suggest a full-time, in person return to school would be best for children from a mental health, educational, and social development standpoint.

Schools in Ontario have been closed since March as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and although some students and teachers are ready to add a sense of normalcy back into their lives, some still have concerns.

While younger kids won't be required to wear face masks in this updated plan, high-school aged students are recommended to do so in instances where proper social distancing cannot be accomplished.

According to the guide and the idea that physical distancing will be hard to strictly enforce at an elementary school level, age-appropriate education on the importance of hand hygiene and avoiding touching and hugging will be the approach in keeping the younger kids safe, healthy, and informed.

The guide also suggests arranging classroom furniture in a way that leaves as much space as possible between desks.

It also recommends that if weather permits, lunch breaks should be held outside.

The 34-page report written by several officials, physicians, and infectious disease specialists, addresses hand hygiene, large gathering and assembly policies, as well as mentioning that smaller class sizes are a "priority strategy."

In his news conference Wednesday, Ford expressed that he was "nervous" about sending kids back to school and because of that, stressed the importance of getting the plans right.

Lead photo by

Jeff Hitchcock


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