Riverside School Board announces new COVID-19 measures as classes resume

As schools prepare for reopening, the Riverside School Board (RSB) announced new safety measures in a May 1 letter to parents. 

“When the minister first announced [schools reopening], he didn’t announce all these considerations,” RSB Chair Daniel Lamoureux told CTV News. “Our primary focus has always been the safety of our students, their families and our staff, and these restrictions will support their safety.” 

The letter comes after parents, teachers and school bus drivers questioned how students would return to school safely. The Quebec government announced that schools and daycares outside the Montreal region would reopen on May 11. Elementary schools in Montreal are scheduled to reopen on May 19. 

Some RSB measures include the suspension of breakfast and hot lunch programs offered at school as well as prohibiting the use of shared microwaves until further notice.

TRANSPORTATION SERVICES

According to the letter, only one child per bench will be allowed in school buses. There will also be an unoccupied bench in front and behind the child, as per government directives. 

“This will automatically reduce the amount of students that will be picked up,” said Lamoureux. “We may have to change our routes on the South Shore, so we’re not sure how it’s going to be configured until we get a final number and whether students will need bussing or not.”

The RSB is asking parents to drive their own children to school whenever possible. 

DESIGNATED SPACES

There is no guarantee that students will return to the school for which they registered or have the same teacher. 

In order to minimize movement, the RSB plans to assign students to the schools nearest to their homes. 

Once assigned to a classroom, students will have a “designated space” with a two-metre distance between themselves and their peers. Students are expected to spend their “entire day,” including lunchtime, at their designated space. 

Staff may only enter the space while wearing personal protective equipment if a child has “specific special needs.” 

Libraries, art classrooms, music rooms, and gyms will remain off limits. 

LEARNING FROM HOME

Parents who choose to keep their children at home will have access to kits provided by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEES) as well as the RSB Brain Boost website, where they can receive communications from the school. 

While attendance for students is voluntary, the RSB recommends that students who are struggling academically go back to school. 

The RSB is asking parents to fill out a survey by May 4 to confirm whether their children will return to school and need transportation services.

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