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Dr. Tony Keran
Dr. Steven Monardo
Dr. Steve Monardo

Back to School During a Pandemic


The school year's start date is drawing near, yet there are still a lot of uncertainties about when and how they will begin. Are children of various ages expected to attend schools? Will it be mostly online classes or in person? How should parents prepare their children for their education? Furthermore, we know how difficult it can be for parents to juggle their work-life balance as well as their child's school work. In this article, we have collected the most recent news and what to expect in the upcoming future for children and how to make sure we are staying healthy and safe during the pandemic.

In Ontario, there are 3 scenarios being planned for:

  1. Regular in class instruction with physical distancing measure in place (Elementary)
  2. Full-time remote learning (Secondary)
  3. A hybrid model blending both approaches (Secondary)

In the hybrid model in most jurisdictions, it can be expected that students will alternate between days they attend classes, with only a maximum of 15 students in a class at any given time, and distance learning. School boards would allow for a day to be free of students to deep clean the building and have the rest of the school week alternate between groups of students.

The Ministry of Education has approved regional school boards' finalized calendars for the 2020-21 school term: students will begin class on September 8, 2020 and the last day of school will be June 29, 2021.

What To Expect for Parents and Students

Here are some things that families can expect once school resume, according to safety guidelines being implemented by health experts:


  • Students should be washing their hands regularly and carry Health Canada-approved hand sanitizer in their belongings.
  • It is recommended to wear a face mask whenever possible. Children could additionally benefit from wearing a face mask, if they can bear it, especially if they are touching their face frequently.
Physical Distancing:
  • Minimize physical contact between children, try to implement physical distancing between older children.
  • Younger children will learn about physical distancing through games.
  • There will be staggered entry into classrooms and staggered recess/snack, lunch and class transition times to maintain more space between people.
  • (Older) students are expected to keep to their group of 15 classmates without mixing to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Since group capacities are still unknown, extracurricular activities will not begin until group/gathering capacity limits are decided.
  • Partitions are being considered around the driver and to space children/families apart.
  • Buses will continue to be sanitized thoroughly before or after each run.
  • Parents are encouraged to bring and pick up their child(ren) from school when possible.
Limited Sharing of Materials & Equipment:
  • Toys will be either reduced or removed and there will be less items that are touched by multiple students (e.g. stationery items)
  • Food and beverage services will be severely limited if not eliminated. Items will not be shared.
  • Teachers are expected to bring sanitized supplies to the children's classroom rather than have the children move in between classrooms to minimize the risk of infection.
  • Barriers may be in place to promote social distancing.
  • Hand soap and sanitizers will be provided throughout the building and in washroom facilities.
  • Occupancy of washrooms may be monitored or scheduled to ensure not too many individuals are using them at the same time.

Even though returning to school may not feel normal during the COVID-19 pandemic, the steps we take to make sure everyone around us is safe can help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Please continue to follow health and safety guidelines provided by Health Canada and stay up-to-date on the latest news in regards to schools in your area. We hope everyone continues to stay strong during these times!

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