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So, when exactly are classes starting? Here’s what we know about back-to-school plans across the GTA

If you’re a parent or a student heading back to school next month, you may have some questions about what exactly your local school board has planned.

Perhaps, questions like: When does school begin? Will classes be smaller? Which students will be obligated to wear masks? Across the GTA, many of those answers depend on which school board is calling the shots. Here’s a rundown about what we know so far. You can scroll down this page to compare the plans, or jump to your local school board by selecting it below.

So, when exactly are classes starting-canada-mileniostadium
Ontario students in Grades 4 and above will be required to wear masks when the school year resumes, though some GTA boards are extending the order to younger students. (LM Otero/The Associated Press)

 

Toronto District School Board (TDSB)

When will classes start?

Tuesday, Sept. 15. The TDSB plans to hold a staggered start to the year, with all students expected to be in class by Friday, Sept. 18.

Which students will be required to wear masks?

Students in every grade, including kindergarten, will be required to wear masks. The rule is consistent with local public health guidelines, which call for children aged two and above to wear masks in indoor public spaces.

Are class sizes being reduced?

The TDSB is reducing class sizes with a focus on areas where students have been deemed to be at a higher-risk of contracting COVID-19. The TDSB and Toronto Public Health are finalizing the list of schools where class sizes will be more drastically cut.

In higher-risk areas, kindergarten classes will be capped at 15 students, Grades 1 to 3 will be capped at 20 students and Grades 4 to 8 will be capped at 20 students.

In lower-risk areas, kindergarten classes will be capped at 26 students, Grades 1 to 3 will be capped at 20 students and Grades 4 to 8 will be capped at 27 students High school classes will contain “approximately” 15 students.

What will the school day look like?

Elementary students will receive the usual 300 minutes of instruction per day. The board says those students will “likely experience changes in the timing of recesses, lunches, and bathroom breaks as they are staggered to limit or avoid interaction with other class groups.” They will be limited to their class cohort.

The high school year will be broken down into four quadmesters, in which students will concentrate on two subjects at a time. High school students who opt for in-person learning will go to school every other day, and have live video conferencing with teachers daily. In-person learning will take place only from 8:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

What will remote learning look like?

The TDSB is in the process of creating four virtual elementary schools and a single centralized virtual secondary school. Elementary students will receive 300 minutes of instruction per day, which will include between 180 or 225 minutes of real time instruction, depending on the grade.

High school students attending the new virtual school take two classes per day, one from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and a second from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. The day will include a minimum of 90 minutes of real time learning.

When can students switch from remote to in-person learning?

The TDSB says the “best time to do so” is at the end of quadmesters or during other breaks in the school calendar.

 

So, when exactly are classes starting-aluno-canada-mileniostadium
Around a third of elementary students at the TDSB are expected to start the school year exclusively online, a figure that holds relatively steady across the GTA. (Juliya Shangarey/Shutterstock)

 

  • Peel District School Board (PDSB)

When will classes start?

A date has not yet been determined. However, the board is warning parents that the start of the school year may be delayed.

Which students will be required to wear masks?

Masks are mandatory for students in Grades 1 to 12, while they are “strongly recommended” for kindergarten students.

Are class sizes being reduced?

The board says class sizes will be reduced, though it has not announced what the new caps or average sizes will be. It has said high school classes will include “approximately” 15 students.

What will the school day look like?

Elementary students will attend school in-person five days per week, where they will be restricted to their cohort for the full day, including during recess and lunch.

High school students will attend school in-person every other day. When at school, students will receive 150 minutes of in-person instruction in the mornings, and take part in remote learning in the afternoon. The board is adopting a quadmester format, where students will study two courses at a time.

What will remote learning look like?

The board is creating a PDSB Online School, which will feature a combination of “synchronous” and “asynchronous” learning. Students who opt for remote learning will take part in varying amounts of real time learning, depending on their grade and dictated by provincial mandates.

When can students switch from remote to in-person learning?

The board says they can do so during “designated periods.”

York Region District School Board (YRDSB)

When will classes start?

A start date has not yet been announced. The board plans to hold a staggered entry for elementary and secondary schools.

Which students will be required to wear masks?

Masks are mandatory for students in Grades 4 to 12, while students in kindergarten to Grade 3 will be “strongly encouraged” to wear masks.

Are class sizes being reduced?

The board says it will maintain “regular” elementary class sizes.

What will the school day look like?

Elementary students will attend school in-person five days per week, and start and end times will remain the same. High school students will attend school in-person on alternating days. In-person instruction will take place only in the morning. Students will be sent home at lunch time and participate in remote learning during afternoons.

Unlike most other school boards in the GTA, the YRDSB is not adopting a quadmester format. Instead, students will typically take four classes each day.

What will remote learning look like?

Elementary students will take part in a new remote learning plan, though the board has not said how much real-time instruction will be included beyond provincial mandates. The classes will also be created and taught by dedicated teachers, meaning students may be taught by teachers not connected to their home school.

High school students will also have access to real time instruction, though the board has not said exactly how the day will be divided.

When can students switch from remote to in-person learning?

Students may be required to wait for breaks in the school year, such as the end of a reporting period of semester, if they wish to transition from remote to in-person learning.

Durham District School Board (DDSB)

When will classes start?

The DDSB will hold a two-week staggered start to the school year that is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Which students will be required to wear masks?

Masks will be mandatory for students in Grades 4 to 12, while students in kindergarten to Grade 3 will be “actively encouraged” to wear masks.

Are class sizes being reduced?

The DDSB says it will improve upon provincial guidelines around physical distancing and class sizes, though the board has not said what those figures or targets are.

What will the school day look like?

Elementary students will attend school in-person five days per week. The school day will be “very similar” to previous schedules, with the exception of new staggered times for entry, exit and recess.

High school students will attend class in-person on alternating days. In-person instruction will take place exclusively in the morning. The DDSB will adopt a quadmester format, in which students take two courses at a time.

What will remote learning look like?

The DDSB says the programming offered by its planned virtual school will be “similar” to its physical schools. Timetables and staffing information are not yet available, nor is the precise amount of real-time instruction students will receive beyond provincial mandates.

The board says it will try to facilitate virtual assemblies, special events and other activities to help students feel connected to their home schools.

When can students switch from remote to in-person learning?

The board says it will field requests for transfers during the school year. However, it warns that elementary students may be forced to wait until the end of the first term in January, while high school students may have to wait until the end of a quadmester before transferring.

Halton District School Board (HDSB)

When will classes start?

Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Which students will be required to wear masks?

Masks will be mandatory for students in Grades 4 to 12, while students in kindergarten to Grade 3 will be “encouraged but not required” to wear masks.

Are class sizes being reduced?

Elementary school class sizes are not being reduced.

What will the school day look like?

Elementary students will attend school in-person five days per week. They will be restricted to their cohort for the full day, including recess and lunch. High school students will attend class in-person on alternating days. In-person instruction will take place exclusively in the morning. The HDSB will adopt a quadmester format, in which students take two courses at a time.

What will remote learning look like?

The HDSB says remote learning will be delivered by teachers “who may or may not be attached” to a student’s home school. The amount of real-time instruction will be based on provincial guidelines, ranging from 180 minutes per day in kindergarten to 225 minutes per day for all other elementary grades.

When can students switch from remote to in-person learning?

The board is asking families to commit to either in-person or remote learning for the duration of a quadmester or term.

Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB)

When will classes start?

The TCDSB plans to hold a two-week staggered start beginning Monday, Sep. 14.

Will students be required to wear masks?

The board voted to make masks mandatory for all students, kindergarten through Grade 12, with “reasonable exceptions” for some children.

How many students will be in each class?

Elementary class sizes will not be reduced. High school classes will contain “up to” 15 students.

What will the school day look like?

Elementary students will attend school in-person five days per week. They will be restricted to their cohort for the full day, including recess and lunch.

High school students will attend class in-person in the morning and instruction will continue remotely at home in the afternoon. The TCDSB will adopt a quadmester format, in which students will take two courses at a time.

What will remote learning look like?

The HDSB says remote learning will be delivered by teachers “who may or may not be attached” to a student’s home school. The amount of real time instruction will be based on provincial guidelines, ranging from 180 minutes per day in kindergarten to 225 minutes per day for all other elementary grades.

When can students switch from remote to in-person learning?

The board is asking families to commit to either in-person or remote learning for the duration of a semester or term.

Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB)

When will classes start?

The board has not yet announced a date, though it has said it will hold a staggered start to the year.

Which students will be required to wear masks?

Masks are mandatory for students in Grades 1 to 12. They are “strongly recommended” for students in kindergarten.

Are class sizes being reduced?

Elementary class sizes will not be reduced from typical levels. High school cohorts will have approximately 15 students.

What will the school day look like?

Arrival and dismissal times will remain the same for elementary students, but recess and lunch breaks will be staggered.

High school students will attend school in-person from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., every other day. All students will take part in remote learning during the afternoon. The DPCDSB will adopt a quadmester format in which students will study two courses at a time.

What will remote learning look like?

Elementary students will receive a combination of synchronous and asynchronous instruction, with the amount of daily real time learning determined by provincial guidelines. Teachers will also create weekly timetables that will be sent to students every Friday at noon.

High school students studying remotely will also follow a quadmester format. There will be a minimum of two hours of real time instruction per day spread across two morning and afternoon sessions.

When can students switch from remote to in-person learning?

Parents of elementary students will be advised of “natural points” during the year when students can transfer to in-person learning.

High school students must wait until the end of a quadmester before switching to in-person learning.

 

So, when exactly are classes starting-ford-canada-mileniostadium
Premier Doug Ford has described Ontario’s school reopening plan as the best in Canada, despite some teachers, parents and public health experts having raised serious concerns. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

 

York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB)

When will classes start?

Grades 1 to 3 start on Wednesday, Sept. 9; Grades 4 to 8 start on Thursday, Sept. 10; kindergarten starts on Friday, Sept. 11.

Grade 9 students will start on either Tuesday, Sept. 8 or Wednesday, Sept. 9, depending on which cohort they are assigned to. Grades 10 to 12 will start on Thursday, Sept. 10.

Which students will be required to wear masks?

Masks are mandatory for students in Grades 4 to 12. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 are “encouraged” to wear masks.

Are class sizes being reduced?

There are no plans to reduce class sizes at the elementary level. High school students will be placed in cohorts of approximately 15 students.

What will the school day look like?

Elementary students will attend school five days per week for the full day. The board says in-person instruction will follow a regular schedule but with enhanced health and safety protocols.

High school students will attend school in-person every other day for morning classes. All students will take part in remote learning during the afternoon. The YCDSB will adopt a quadmester format where students will study two courses at a time.

All teachers will be encouraged to use outdoor classes and spaces whenever possible.

What will remote learning look like?

Elementary students will take part in two sessions of real time instruction, one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Students in Grade 1 to 8 will have independent learning sessions only in the afternoons.

High school students will take part in a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning in the morning. In the afternoons, they will participate in 150 minutes of real time learning.

When can students switch from remote to in-person learning?

Elementary students will have three opportunities to transfer to in-person learning, the first coming on Oct. 13. High school students can transfer after the first quadmester, on Nov. 12.

Durham Catholic District School Board (DCDSB)

When will classes start?

The board plans to hold a two-week staggered start to the school year starting on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Which students will be required to wear masks?

Masks are mandatory for students in Grades 4 to 12. Students in kindergarten to Grade 3 will not be required to wear masks, but the board says they “will not be prohibited from doing so.”

Are class sizes being reduced?

The board says it plans to reduce class sizes, though it notes there may be some exceptions. Its expected maximum class sizes are 22 students in Kindergarten, 20 students in Grades 1 to 3 and 25 students in Grades 4 to 8.

What will the school day look like?

Elementary students will attend school five days per week for the full day and they will be restricted to their class cohorts. The board says some changes to start and finish times may be implemented. Teachers are being asked to use outdoor spaces for instruction whenever possible.

High school students will attend school in-person every other day for morning classes. All students will take part in remote learning during the afternoon. The DCDSB will adopt a quadmester format where students will study two courses at a time.

What will remote learning look like?

Students who opt for remote learning may be placed in classes with students from multiple schools. The board says real time instruction will be offered to students, though specific targets for the amount of daily real time instruction are not available, beyond provincial mandates.

When can students switch from remote to in-person learning?

Elementary students will have opportunities to transfer to in-person learning at “natural breaks” in the school calendar, including the Christmas and March breaks. High school students can transfer to in-person learning at the end of quadmesters.

CBC/MS

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