Niagara Catholic Board gearing up for September
The Ford government has announced ventilation units for all classrooms without mechanical systems, to improve air quality for when kids return to in-person classes.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce says junior and senior kindergarten classrooms will also get HEPA units even if they are in mechanically ventilated schools, since kids in those grades won't be required to wear masks.
Director of Education for the Niagara Catholic Board Camillio Cipriano says they have already received $7M in funding to upgrade air filtration systems, and many are ready to be installed.
He says the fact that the government is still outfitting JK and SK classes with portable HEPA systems is a sign the government is going the extra mile to ensure parents feel safe sending their children to school.
In general, he says the government's plan is a lot closer to getting schools back to a more normal learning environment for students.
He is happy high school students are going back five days a week, and that masks will be mandatory for grades one and up.
The plan does not require vaccination for students or staff, and appears that it will not have a different set of rules for people who are isolating based on vaccination status.
"Many of us in education we were wondering how things would go in regards to vaccination and the eligibility for extra curricular. I got the message from Dr. Moore today that it's very clear, that all students and staff should be treated equally regardless of vaccination, or not."
Cipriano says the reality is, they won't have a record of vaccination, since it's private data.
He believes the large majority of school staff members have already been vaccinated, but again vaccination in the school setting is not mandatory.
Niagara Catholic will be sending a message to parents asking for a final decision on whether their child will be learning in-person or online next week.