UGDSB extends deadline for parent survey, announces changes to class sizes and ventilation
A custodian cleans a teacher's desk in a classroom at Brubaker Elementary School, Wednesday, July 8, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
KITCHENER -- The Upper Grand District School Board has extended the deadline for a survey from parents to tell the board if their children will return to school in September.
Parents have until Sunday, Aug. 23 to fill out the form.
The deadline was extended following several updates from the UGDSB on its back-to-school plan.
REDUCING CLASS SIZES
The school board said it will be reducing class sizes in order to maintain proper physical distancing. In elementary schools, the UGDSB says it will break kindergarten classes into two groups.
The school board also plans to hire more teachers to help break up student groups.
The board said there will be around 60 more teachers in elementary schools.
Officials say secondary schools have space issues and many schools are near or at capacity. Many classes will have 30 or more students and the board says it might be difficult to split the classes into smaller groups.
The UGDSB says it's going to reduce in-person hours for students, breaking them into smaller cohorts. The school board plans to hire around 100 more teachers for secondary schools.
The UGDSB is carrying out preventative maintenance on HVAC systems.
Staff will make sure filters are changed on their assigned schedules.
The board says windows in exterior classrooms will stay open as much as possible to maintain air flow.
The school board says it's purchased 300 stand-alone HEPA grade air filtration units to use in windowless classrooms where opening windows isn't an option.
MANDATORY MASKS FOR ALL STUDENTS
The trustees voted to make masks mandatory for all students from junior kindergarten to Grade 12.
The motion passed at a meeting on Tuesday night.
Masks will be mandatory for all students, staff and visitors, with medical exemptions.
PUBLIC HEALTH INPUT
Dr. Nicola Mercer, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, said she has met with local school boards to continue working on a safe plan to reopen schools.
"We have been working with the boards on COVID-19 since February and I remain encouraged by the commitment our partners have shown to be creative and flexible in protecting students and staff from the effects of the global pandemic," a statement from Dr. Mercer said in part.
Dr. Mercer said she's advocating for masks for students in Grades 1 to 12, and strongly encouraging them for children in junior kindergarten and kindergarten.
"I was pleased to see Upper Grand District School Board take the step of mandating masks for all students and staff at their meeting," her statement said.
Dr. Mercer said there are additional nursing positions coming to public health this fall following new funding from the provincial government. The staff will join current public health professionals working with schools within the region.
She added that reopening schools will only be successful if infection rates stay low in the region.
"Each of us has the responsibility to practice good hand hygiene, maintain physical distancing, wear a face covering, download the COVID-19 tracking app, and avoid large gatherings where possible," Dr. Mercer said. "Plans to safely reopen our schools can only be as effective as our commitment to tackling COVID-19 together."