Back to school in Lambton County this September

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Lambton County students will be among those sitting in a classroom this September.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce is announcing the return to school plan this hour. The province says education will look relatively similar to September last year in rural areas like Lambton where enrollment numbers are lower.

All Lambton-Kent school boards will be allowed to have both elementary and secondary school students in class five days a week. The province says class sizes should be kept to the provincial average of 24.5 students in elementary schools and 22 in secondary classes.

Children in Grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear a cloth masks, students in JK to Grade 3 will be asked to wear masks in common areas – but it won’t be required.

Teachers will receive masks from the school boards. The province is investing $60 million for personal protective equipment.

There will be health screening and anyone with any COVID-19 symptoms will be sent home until there is a test result or the child or teacher has been symptom free.

The province is setting aside $50 million to hire more public health nurses to help in the schools.

Schools will be required to have one-way entrances and hallways and easy access to hand-sanitizers. Students will also be prompted to wash their hands.

Premier Doug Ford says there will also be 1,300 more custodians hired across the province to keep the schools clean.

Bus companies will also get help to keep their drivers safe. There is $40 million set aside for cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment for transportation to schools.

School will look different for larger school boards, like those in Toronto, where there will be a model which sees secondary students will be in the classroom about 50 per cent of the time. Class sizes will also be capped at 15.

It’s expected there will be online learning available for parents who don’t want their children returning to class.

“You can drop your child off at school knowing every possible measure has been taken to keep them safe…it’s a plan that keeps the health and safety of our students first,” says Ford.

And the province top health officials say it is time for kids to return to the classroom. “They need to go to school for their health, their development, mental and social health,” says Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health.

Before the announcement was made, Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation President Harvey Bischof tweeted: “Whatever the Ford government announces today as their reopening of schools plan, it will be news to us. We were not consulted, nor were we given an advance look at the plan.”