Brockville-area schools preparing for return to class

An empty classroom is seen in this undated file photo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

Brockville-area schools are preparing after the province announced all elemenatry students and high school students in select School Boards will return to classrooms full-time this fall. 

The Upper Canada District School Board said in a statement from Chair John McAllister and Director of Education Stephen Sliwa that the board has been deemed one of the 'low-risk' boards permitted to have secondary students resume full-time, but it still has not figure out how that will work just yet. 

"It is our hope that we will also be able to have our secondary students back in class five days a week, but first we need to ensure we can adopt a daily timetable that limits interaction between multiple groups of students while at school," the statement said, as the province has focussed on grouping or 'cohorting' students together to limit contacts. 

"We will provide more information once we have further clarity and assurance on this."

The board said more work will need to be done to finalize plans before Sept. 4 and those plans will be released in the next couple of weeks after they're approved by the Ministry of Education. A draft plan is also available on its website. 

The Catholic School Board of Eastern Ontario was more concrete with its plans for high schools, as it said secondary schools within the board will be returning full time to complete two courses at a time for nine-week periods or so-called “quad-mesters.' 

It said its draft plan is available on its website and final plans will be released once its approved by the Ministry of Education. 

The province's plan includes a focus on physical distancing and grades 4 through 12 students will be required to wear masks in class, while younger kids are encouraged to do so in common indoor areas.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Thursday $309 million in funding would be added for various personal protective equipment, money for more staff and teachers, as well as public health nurses who will provide training and other services at schools. 

If anyone inside schools develop symptoms of COVID-19, the province plan said they would be immediately separated from others until they can get home, but not on school busses or public transit. Those who test positive can only return to the school once they've tested negative and shown no symptoms for 24 hours. 

Parents also retain the right to withhold their children from school because of health concerns. 

The province has also announced daycare centres will be allowed to return to full capacity as of Sept. 1, in time for parents to plan back-to-school routines. 

The announcements from the province come with just six weeks before kids are scheduled to return to class after being away from phsyical schools since March. 

Ontario reported fewer than 100 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the second day in a row below 100 cases, while the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit currently has no active cases out of 355 since the pandemic began.