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Lakehead School Board outlines return to school plan

Parents will be required to register students for in-class learning by Aug. 14
Lakehead Public School Board

THUNDER BAY - With the provincial government releasing its return to school plan last week, the Lakehead Public School Board is providing parents with more details on what the school year will look like here in the city.

Lakehead Public Schools released its return to school plan to parents on Friday and it includes a deadline for confirming in-person enrolment and changes to what the academic year will look like for secondary students.

The models outlined by the board include both in-person and remote learning options.

For elementary schools, all students from Kindergarten to Grade 8 will attend school five days per week with normal class sizes, with each class considered its own cohort.

The mixing of cohorts will be minimized as much as possible and lunches and recesses will be staggered.

Students will receive all programing, with the exception of music classes that use brass or wind instruments.

Things will look a little different for secondary students, though they can still expect to be in the classroom five days a week with normal class sizes.

One of the big differences is students will only take two courses per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and the year will be divided into quadmesters, with students completing exams after each two month quadmester.

All courses will be available with the exception of music courses using wind or brass and vocals.

“This model for return is known as a Conventional Model,” the return to school fact sheet states.

“We also have plans prepared for an Adapted Model (alternating days – half at school, half at home) and a Fully Remote Model (all students learning from home) should the COVID-19 situation in Thunder Bay change. If we are required to change the model of delivery, that decision will be made by the Ministry of Education in consultation with provincial and local public health officials.”

A remote learning option is still available to parents who choose not to send their child back to in-person learning.

Remote learning will include 300 minutes of instruction on a daily basis for elementary students and 150 minutes per course for secondary students.

All students between Grades 4 and 12 will be required to wear masks, and while masks for students Grades 3 and under are not required, it is encouraged.

Transportation will resume as normal with students being required to wear masks while on the bus and assigned seating will be used.

Additional health and safety protocols will also be enforced, including students and staff completing a self-assessment of symptoms before entering the school, enhanced cleaning, maximizing the space in classrooms to allow for physical distancing, and lockers not being permitted in high schools.

The Lakehead Board is asking parents to pre-register for in-class learning no later than Aug. 14.

“This is to determine class sizes, staffing numbers, and levels of support and resources (custodial, PPE) required to open our schools,” the board said.

“Lakehead Public Schools conducted a survey collecting pre-registration information, and parents were asked if they would send their child to school under a Conventional or Adaptive model. The responses for the Conventional Model will be the numbers we work with as we staff schools and create online classes.”

Staff who are concerned about returning to the school due to pre-existing health considerations for themselves or a family member are also encouraged to contact human resources before Aug. 14.

“We know that educators are concerned for the health and safety of their students as well as themselves, and that they have a strong desire to safely reconnect with their students,” the board said.

“Lakehead Public Schools is committed to providing the appropriate training, guidance and protocols needed for a safe return for students and staff. Much of this training will take place on the three Professional Activity days to start the school year.”

The provincial government’s return to school plan has drawn criticism, especially class sizes remaining the same.

A community town hall will be held on Aug. 11. The school year will begin on Sept. 3. The Lakehead Public School Board return to school fact sheet can be found on its website.

Doug Diaczuk

About the Author: Doug Diaczuk

Doug Diaczuk is a reporter and award-winning author from Thunder Bay. He has a master’s degree in English from Lakehead University
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