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Rainbow Board unveils reopening plans for 2020-21 school year

Safety and well-being of staff and students remains 'top priority' as RDSB prepares to welcome students back to class
Rainbow District School Board director of education Norm Blaseg presented the board's reopening guide on Tuesday evening. (File)

Schools in Sudbury will welcome students back to class in less than a month and the Rainbow District School Board laid out their reopening guide on Aug. 11 during a strategic planning committee meeting.

Structure, stability and safety were highlighted as pillars in the board's plan with a focus on a cautious approach that prioritizes the health and safety and well-being of staff and students while maximizing the delivery of the curriculum.

Rainbow District School Board director of education Norm Blaseg presented the reopening guide on Tuesday evening, with hundreds tuned into the livestream. Under the provincial reopening guidelines, Sudbury area schools, including those in the Rainbow Board, have been classified as non-designated and both elementary and secondary schools have been directed to open for in-person attendance this fall.

The Rainbow Board will be accommodating parents by offering remote learning for all students who choose not to attend in person.

Those who choose not to attend in person will be expected to attend school remotely on a full-time basis with access to learning materials posted online as well as live and pre-recorded learning opportunities throughout the day. Attendance will be taken daily.

Elementary school students not attending in person will be given timetables to connect remotely with a distance learning teacher, while secondary students will connect synchronously with their regular classroom teachers. Technology will be provided, as required, for distance learning.

Parents who choose to have their children learn from home will be required to fill out an online form that will be available on as of Wednesday, Aug. 12. One form is to be completed per child by Friday, Aug. 21.

For those students who will be returning to class in-person, they will be required to fill out a daily COVID-19 pre-screening questionnaire, with parents of students from K-8 required complete the questionnaire daily before sending their child/children to school.

Schools must immediately report and suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 to Public Health Sudbury & Districts. Public health officials will determine any additional steps required, including, but not limited to, the declaration of an outbreak and closure of classes and/or schools.

Students will be cohorted in an effort to limit potential spread and facilitate contact tracing, should there be a positive case of COVID-19 within a school. Students in grades K-8 will be in one cohort for the full day, meaning that they will be within the same group of children throughout the day, including lunch and recess.

Elementary school student contacts will be limited to approximately 50 as per the Ministry of Education guide to reopening schools.

Secondary school students will have a different timetable this year than in past years, with the intention of limiting their direct contacts to less than 100 students per week. Students will take four credits/subjects in the first semester.

In week one, students will have a 150-minute period one class (subject one), followed by lunch and a 150-minute period two class (subject two) each day. Week two will follow the same format, with a 150-minute period three class, lunch and a 150-minute period four class.

This rotation will limit direct weekly contacts and allow students to complete four credits in their first semester.

Students in grades four to 12, including 3/4 split classes will be required to wear a mask or cloth face covering indoors in school, including hallways and during classes. Outdoor times like recess could be used as opportunities to provide students with breaks from wearing masks within their cohorts.

Students in kindergarten to Grade 3 will be encouraged, but not required to wear masks indoors, though they will be require to do so on school buses.

Portable Plexiglass will be placed in high-traffic areas where physical distancing may be difficult to maintain, such as the front reception area of the main office. Each school will designate a COVID-19 isolation room/area that will be used for the temporary placement of any student or staff member that becomes ill during the day.

A COVID-19 isolation kit containing staff/student PPE for illnesses will be provided to each school. The kit will contain gloves, medical masks, face shield or safety glasses, box of tissues, hand sanitizer, disposable gowns/lab coat and an infrared thermometer.

Staff and students should stay home if they are symptomatic or ill, or if someone they have come in close contact with, including within their household, is ill with suspected or positive COVID-19 in the past 14 days. Schools will be maintaining up-to-date lists of students, staff and school visitors to facilitate contact tracing.

You can find the full Rainbow Schools Reopening Guide here, and watch the presentation of the guide below.