(The Canadian Press)

(The Canadian Press)

Answers to 5 common questions facing families for the COVID-19 school year

COVID-19 protocols are likely to vary even more at the school board level, and even and school-to-school.

Questions abound as families prepare for an unprecedented school year that will be shaped by pandemic precautions.

Is it safe? What happens if there’s an outbreak? How do I screen my child for COVID-19?

Each province has their own re-entry framework, but they come with caveats that medical advice is evolving, risk factors are continually shifting and plans could change.

COVID-19 protocols are likely to vary even more at the school board level, and even and school-to-school.

Here’s what we know about some of the questions facing many families:

1: I don’t know whether I will send my child to class. Are we guaranteed enrolment if I delay that decision, or change my mind mid-year?

Most provinces say schools must offer a remote learning option, although there are provinces that insist on in-class attendance for some students, such as Quebec.

In Ontario, a spokeswoman for Education Minister Stephen Lecce says public school students will have the option to switch from in-class to remote learning at any time, or vice versa.

It’s a different matter for private schools which may have greater demand than spots available, says Patti MacDonald, executive director of Canadian Accredited Independent Schools, which represents almost 100 schools across the country.

“Clearly, schools are going to work to fill those spaces. If somebody leaves they will probably fill that space, and so it really would be dependent on their enrolment the following year,” she says.

READ MORE: COVID-19 protocols are likely to vary even more at the school board level, and even and school-to-school.

2: How do I screen my child for COVID-19 symptoms? How do I distinguish them from cold or flu symptoms?

The new back-to-school routine will involve screening your child daily for COVID-19, but infectious disease specialist Dr. Anna Banerji acknowledges that’s difficult when many children show few or no signs they’re sick.

Banerji, an associate pediatrics professor at the University of Toronto, says typical symptoms are identical to what you might see with the flu — runny nose, coughing, sneezing, sore throat and headache. The lack of a fever doesn’t mean your child does not have COVID-19, she warns.

Provincial health agencies offer further tips online, with the Alberta government posting a long list of things to watch out for that also include shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, painful swallowing, muscle/joint aches, and pink eye.

“COVID can present as basically anything. And that’s why (if there’s) any kind of illness at this time, kids need to be home,” says Banerji.

3: What happens if a student or staff member contracts COVID-19?

Each province lays out the need for education, health and public health officials to work closely with school boards to monitor and respond to reports of COVID-19 symptoms and cases.

In Ontario, a student or staff member who develops symptoms in school would be separated from others until they can go home.

Schools must report confirmed cases to their superintendent while public health officials would determine whether additional steps are required, such as the declaration of an outbreak or the closure of a school.

Any school connected to a confirmed or probable case may be required to close in-person classes, but that decision would be made in consultation with health officials.

READ MORE: B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk’: Horgan

4: My child has severe allergies. How can I be sure they won’t be exposed to irritants throughout the day if lunches are eaten in the classroom?

Schools are advised to consider a “no sharing policy” to guard against spreading germs, and that should guard against spreading allergens, too, says Beatrice Povolo, media relations director of Food Allergy Canada.

She welcomes enhanced measures that families of kids with allergies have long advocated for: increased cleaning regimens, hand-washing protocols and adult supervision to discourage food sharing and unsanitary practices.

“We’ve always wanted to ensure that they’re cleaning eating surfaces, clean desks, clean classrooms, et cetera, so having enhanced measures … is going to be something that parents will need to feel comfortable (with) in terms of the kids going back to school,” she says.

READ MORE: ‘We all have anxieties’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

5: We abandoned remote learning early in the pandemic and my child has done no schoolwork over the summer. Are they ready to enter their intended grade?

The so-called summer slide — an annual phenomenon in which some students lose knowledge gained from the previous school year — might more accurately be described as a spring-and-summer slide since many kids will have been out of the classroom for nearly six months by September.

The impact of the prolonged break would vary by child and grade but younger kids such as those transitioning from kindergarten to Grade 1 were likely impacted less in academic terms than emotional ones, says Charles Pascal, a professor of applied psychology & human development at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

This is something teachers will have to address in their return-to-class curriculum, he says, encouraging educators to start the year by determining how well their students meet the requirements for their grade.

If he was a teacher, Pascal says he’d “do that right at the outset, to see if I have to go back and do some kind of transition teaching regarding the things that might have been lost.”

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusEducationSchools

Just Posted

Carey Newman resigned from the Greater Victoria School District’s Indigenous Ad Hoc Committee May 13, citing ‘a pattern of systemic racism.’ (Black Press Media file photo)
‘Pattern of systemic racism’: SD61 Indigenous committee member resigns, calls for change

More than 350 people had added their names in support by midday Friday

Police tape crosses Auchinachie Road at Somenos Road as police investigate an incident Friday at 11:30 a.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
UPDATE: North Cowichan neighbourhood, school evacuated after gardener digs up explosives

Students removed from Ecole Mount Prevost school in an ‘abundance of caution’

The Greater Victoria School District continues to face backlash over its wording and approach to Indigenous learners in its 2021-2022 budget talks. (Black Press Media file photo)
School district’s approach to Indigenous learners leaves Victoria teachers ‘disgusted’

Backlash grows over ‘pattern of colonial thinking permeating the leadership’

Colin Dowler survived a grizzly bear attack July 29, 2019 on Mt. Dougie Dowler on the south coast of British Columbia and reports that his physical and mental rehabilitation is still ongoing. Photo courtesy Colin Dowler
‘Bad-ass dude that took on a grizzly bear’ doesn’t let 2019 attack bring him down

Campbell River’s Colin Dowler gets on with his life as his rehabilitation continues

Arrowsmith Search and Rescue manager Ken Neden, as he goes over the events of the Qualicum Falls river rescue on Dec. 12, 2020, for a United Kingdom television program “Unbelievable Moments Caught on Camera’. (Mandy Moraes photo)
UK TV show spreading news of daring Qualicum Falls river rescue across the world

Arrowsmith SAR trio share their accounts for ‘Unbelievable Moments Caught on Camera’

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

RCMP outside the Nanaimo Ice Centre investigating a report of a suspicious person. The incident resulted in hold-and-secures at two nearby schools, but those emergency procedures have now been lifted. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Man walking around Nanaimo marsh with airsoft rifle concerning to police and nearby schools

Two schools went into hold-and-secure procedures Thursday morning, May 13

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

A COVID-19 patient receives oxygen outside a hospital in Jammu, India, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP/Channi Anand)
B.C. donates $500K to Red Cross COVID-19 relief efforts in India

The money will provide oxygen cylinders and ambulances for patients in communities grappling with the virus

Superintendent Aaron Paradis, community services officer with the Surrey RCMP, during a media availability about a recent drug bust in Port Coquitlam. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Police seize 13 million ‘potentially fatal doses’ of pure fentanyl at B.C. drug lab

The evidence was seized at large, illicit drug manufacturing site in Port Coquitlam

Most Read