Education Minister Zach Churchill (left) and Dr. Robert Strang announce the Back to School plan. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia Credit: Communications Nova Scotia

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The province has released its Back to School plan. (Click here to read it.)

There are three scenarios mapped out in the plan: Full Reopening, a “blended” model, and At Home Learning.

Full Reopening

The intention is that all schools will fully open on September 8, with all school buses running as normally scheduled. There are, however, several new policies.

First, any student who is feeling ill should stay at home. To that end, the attendance policies have been suspended. And any student who falls ill at school will be removed from class and sent home, with masked adults isolating the student until transportation is arranged.

Buses will run fully loaded, but drivers and students must be masked. The buses will be cleaned before and after each run.

Classrooms will be rearranged to create as much opportunity for social distancing as possible, but the two-metre standard will not apply.

In classrooms, children will not have to mask. It is felt that masks might get in the way of students’ learning with regard to vocalizations. In high schools, however, students will be required to wear masks while in common areas and hallways.

Students will eat in their classrooms, with cafeteria food delivered to them.

All large gatherings, school assemblies, and parent-teacher conferences will go virtual.

Sports will be held, but detailed plans for each sport will be developed later this summer. Likewise for music classes.

School clubs and after-school activities will continue, so long as social distancing can be maintained.

Additional cleaning staff is being hired for each school.

Only school staff and students will be allowed in a school.

Blended model

Should Public Health deem it necessary, schools may be ordered to go into “blended” operation.

Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, explained that there are no pre-set scenarios or indicators about when such a transition will be called. “We fully expect COVID cases to be in schools,” he said, but the intent is to be as flexible as possible and to limit disruption.

The blended model could be ordered for just a single school, or a cluster of schools, or for a geographic area. It is not expected that all schools across the province will be ordered into such operation.

Under the blended model, most high school students will have remote learning at home. Students with particular needs will continue to go to school, as required.

The freed-up space in high schools will be used to allow primary classes to spread out into those high schools to create more opportunity for social distancing.

At Home Learning

In the event that Strang issues a province-wide Stay At Home order, schools will go completely to remote learning.

To that end, the province says that 7% of students, or 2,500, don’t have internet. Those students will be provided with USB sticks and the like to access their studies.

Dr. Andrew Lynk, the chief of paediatrics at the IWK, has signed on to the plan.

“Nova Scotians are smart people, they have good will and common sense,” Lynk told reporters during a for-attribution part of a technical briefing this morning. “The virus is going to be with us for the next year or two or three at least, so we have to learn to live safely with it.”

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Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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