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Students back in schools Tuesday for first time since March

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.

Backpacks packed, water bottles loaded and masks on, thousands of students will return to school Tuesday, Sept. 8th.

Following staggered starts last week, Tuesday will be the first day most students are in class for the 2020/21 school year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools have been closed since March 13. Those choosing virtual learning will begin school next Monday.

Secondary level students at Prince Edward Collegiate Institute will see a change in classes due to pandemic health and safety rules. For this semester they will have one course per ‘Octomester’ (five weeks) for the full school day. The five-week study, similar to summer school, will be in place to allow for safe “cohort” gatherings.

“We are excited, prepared and confident that every one of our 40 schools and classrooms are ready to welcome students and staff, safely,” said Kerry Donnell, the Hastings Prince Edward District School Board’s Communications Manager.

Donnell noted that due to a recent media statement by the local Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation District 29 president alleging necessary protections were not in place, the Ministry of Labour last week determined the board is in full compliance with public health and Ministry of Education directives, and that the complain from the OSSTF did not require further investigation.

“Over the past several months, school board administration has worked collaboratively with Hastings Prince Edward Public Health, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labour to prepare for a safe re-entry to all schools, in accordance with many requirements and guidelines.”

For the students not returning to physical school settings, the school board has created its first K-12 Virtual School staffed with a principal, two vice-principals and teachers.

The virtual school for online learning was created in response to survey results in August.

Of the 15,000 students at HPEDSB, data was received for approximately 10,000, representing about 66 per cent of the student population. Of those, the data indicated that 84 per cent of children would return to school in person and 16 per cent would stay at home for remote learning.

“Given those numbers, HPEDSB must provide virtual learning for that 16 per cent,” said Sean Monteith, Director of Education, noting staff have been working non-stop.

“We have never done anything like this before. I am so proud of the team who took this from an idea to what will be a fully-functional K-12 virtual school,” he said. “Families who choose for their children to learn in this virtual environment can be assured of effective learning using the same content and expectations in the Ontario Curriculum as regular in person learning. Families who choose to send their children to school in person can equally be assured that we are doing all we can to provide safe learning environments.”

K-12 Virtual School begins Sept. 14.

For more information about the K-12 Virtual School, email

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.

Tri-Board notes that following surveys of families, it expects no more than 75 per cent of students will use the bus, anticipating more will walk, or arrive to school in vehicles.

Bus routes have not changed. Riders will be assigned seats. Masks are mandatory for drivers and all students in Grades 4-12, and strongly recommended for JK to Grade 3.

Motorists are reminded to expect an increase in pedestrians, cyclists and school buses, and to give themselves extra commuting time.

OPP officers will be watching for drivers who disobey traffic laws in relation to school bus safety.

In accordance with the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) motorists encountering a stopped school bus that has its safety lights and equipment activated shall stop before reaching the bus and shall not proceed until the bus moves or the safety lights and equipment have been deactivated.

This applies whether you are meeting or following a school bus, and includes multi-lane roads. The only exception is when driving on a road with a median – traffic coming from the opposite direction is not required to stop.

The fine for failing to stop for a school bus is $400 to $2000 and six demerit points for the first offence. Subsequent offences carry a fine between $1000 and $4000, six demerit points and possible jail time (up to six months).

Filed Under: Featured ArticlesHastings & Prince Edward District School BoardPECI - It's a Panther Thing

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  1. Dennis Fox says:

    The problem with the Ministry of Labour’s decision re: don’t challenge secondary students for not wearing a mask is totally lacking in common sense and contrary to what the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and the Public Health Dept. outlined earlier. It should concern us when rules change and having one government ministry supporting another – but leaving the public and the employees out of the loop and left guessing. This is not how the system is suppose to work and it is certainly not what the public vote for nor pay for.

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