MUSKOKA, ON-In preparation for the return to school, the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board has released its COVID plan for this year. 

In a live stream on Wednesday, Interim Director of Education Catherine McCullough explained that their decisions and planning were based on four pillars.

Those pillars include making decisions and plans rooted in faith, hope, compassion and inclusion, ensuring a safe and healthy environment, returning to exceptional teaching and learning and focussing on mental health and well being. 

Based on the advice of public health officials, remote leaning will aim to mirror in-class learning as much as possible. 

Students from grades 4-12 will be required to wear masks, while those in kindergarten to grade three will be encouraged to do so.

Additionally, students will be permitted to wear their own masks if they meet public health standards. 

To ensure a safe learning environment, all staff and students will also be required to complete a self-screening checklist every day before attending school. 

While inside school facilities, signage will be posted to help ensure physical distancing, one-way use hallways, adjustments to recess and lunch breaks, changes to entry and exit practices, and adjustments to the use of playgrounds. 

Hand sanitizer stations will also be placed in every class and in selected common areas and everyone will be directed to wash their hands at appropriate times during the school day.

The board says individuals will be permitted to bring their own scent-free sanitizer and wipes to school. 

Students in elementary and high school will cohort with their classmates and there will be limited contact with other subject teachers.

The maximum of student cohorts in elementary will be 50 and for those in secondary school, it will be 100 for each quad-mester.  

If students opt to take the bus, they are expected to respect physical distancing at stop locations and when they go to sit in the vehicle, they will be directed to their assigned seating.  

Meanwhile, twice a day custodial staff will complete enhanced cleaning at schools and board office locations. 

This includes cleaning desktops and common touch areas like washroom facilities.

For more information about additional measures that will be in place, visit the board’s website here.