Renfrew County schools preparing for return to class

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

Renfrew County Schools are preparing for the return of students after the province announced all elemenatry and high school students will return to classrooms full-time this fall. 

The Renfrew County District School Board said in a statement that the board has been deemed one of the 'low-risk' boards permitted to have secondary students resume full-time, but it still has to figure out how that will work, as final plans will still need to be approved by the Ministry of Education. 

"A final decision on how we will proceed will be communicated once we have formal ministry approval of our plan," the board said. 

"We have worked closely with the Renfrew County and District Health Unit on a return to school action plan and are scheduled to present it to the ministry at the end of day [Thursday]." 

The Renfrew County Catholic District School Board said in a statement that Thursday's announcement will inform its plans for the fall, which will be released in the "coming days and weeks."

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.