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Return to school rules focus on safety during fourth COVID-19 wave

The Tri-Board Student Transportation buses will roll out in full force Tuesday, Sept. 8 for the first day of school for all students, following staggered starts last week.

Students are heading back to the classrooms Tuesday – for the second time amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hastings Prince Edward District School Board has created guidelines and practices related to the pandemic for students, families, teachers and staff, from directives from the provincial government.

Meeting Ontario Ministry of Education directives, all employees, bus drivers, school visitors will be required to provide proof of vaccination, or an official document showing exemption, and will be required to take regular COVID-19 tests.

There will be no indoor assemblies and extra curricular activities are to be allowed. The complete document includes everything from screening and masks, to PPE, hygiene, distancing, recess and breaks, shared spaces, cafeteria and food programs, visitors, transportation, ventilation, vaccination, mental health, sports, extra-curricular activities and community use of schools. (Click here for full policy).

The return to in-person learning has been encouraged, but students also have the option to continue with remote learning.

Tri-Board Student Transportation Services notes that due to the volume of applications its office is still receiving, families that have not received their transportation details should consider alternative means of transportation to school for the first few days of school – notably if they applied for transportation in early September. Tri-board handles routes from Prince Edward County, north to Madawaska; and from Brighton to Gananoque.

Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore stated he does not expect classrooms will be closed again this year. And while the province has encouraged vaccinations, the premier and minister of education have stated they will not mandate them.

Hastings Prince Edward’s Medical Officer of Health said keeping a low rate of infection in communities will be critical to keeping schools safe.

“Everyone – parents, guardians, students, educators, school boards, and public health – has a role to play in making the return to school as safe as possible,” he said. “There are two essential steps you can take to keep our community safe and help keep our students in class this year: get vaccinated if you are eligible and stay home if you are sick. Screen yourself and your household members daily for symptoms and if you have symptoms, you must get tested – even if you are fully vaccinated.

“These two steps, paired with infection control measures such as frequent hand washing, cleaning, and use of face coverings have proven to be effective at controlling the spread of COVID-19, and are critical to keep our community – and our schools – as safe as possible.”

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