COVID-19: Thames Valley school board sets out big changes for students in fall

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“We can’t have everybody congregate at the front at the same time,” Fisher said. “We are working with municipalities about maybe allocating parking lots within walking distance, where we could do some dropoffs there.”

What’s next

The board is presenting its three plans to the Ministry of Education on Wednesday, Fisher said. The province has to approve the plans and will decide which will be implemented for September. The board will be in contact with parents by mid-August about the exact game plan.

At the moment, because of the two-metre physical distancing rule and the 15-student classroom maximum set out by the ministry, the hybrid return to the classroom is looking like the most likely option, Fisher said.

In this model, students would be divided into two groups, A and B. Within their group, students would rotate between one week of three days of learning in person and two days online and another week of two days in person and three online.

Elementary school students will have their own assigned desk that is set a safe distance from others in their group.

In high school, students will take two classes during their in-person day, instead of the usual four, to limit their movement among classrooms. The schedule will work so that they still complete four courses per semester.

Special education students, in self-contained classes of 15 or fewer, will be allowed to attend every day.

“We recognize that for that population, the distance learning is much more challenging,” Fisher said.

But as with so much during the first wave of the pandemic, things can change quickly. The board has to be ready to switch between its contingencies if the need arises.

“The reality is we need to be prepared to offer education in any one of these three models,” Fisher said. “It’s highly likely we could be pivoting and moving between models during the school year. . . . We could have certain parts of the district in one model and others in another. It’s very fluid.”

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