UPDATE: Article amended to state quarantine rooms will be available for staff and students who show symptoms.
The Government of Saskatchewan outlined its back-to-school plan on Tuesday which will not require students or staff to wear masks, although the province is planning to buy masks as a precaution.
Education Minister Gordon Wyant gave an update on Tuesday, mentioning eight priorities that will be included in the reopening plans of all school divisions in the province.
These safety areas include transportation, attendance and supports.
Returning back to the classroom can roll out into four different “levels” or scenarios for schools, which may be activated regionally or provincially based on the advice from Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab.
The school year will begin under “level 1” which means school operations will be “as close to normal as possible, with additional health measures and precautions.”
It was not stated what would cause a school board to go from one level to another.
“It will really depend on a school-by-school basis,” said Wyant at a press conference on Tuesday.
As of now, he believes this is the best practice, mentioning plans could change before September.
“Many experts have said that you need to provide as normal and reassuring an environment as possible when school starts, especially for younger children,” said Dr. Shahab.
Level 2 would prompt mask usage if Dr. Shahab deems it necessary.
On Tuesday morning, the Alberta government announced that students and staff for Grades 4-12 will be required to wear masks when classes resume.
Masks are being purchased by the Ministry of Education and distributed to school divisions.
Level 3 would see a reduction in school capacity.
“This may include establishing cohorts and hybrid learning models as considerations,” according to the release.
Level 4 would mandate remote learning.
Divisions are asked to share their plans with families, teachers and other school staff.
The other safety areas outlined in the plans were similarly outlined in the province’s earlier back-to-school guidelines released in June.
“As the situation with COVID-19 in Saskatchewan is fluid, plans may be updated and adjusted as needed,” according to the release.
Saskatchewan school divisions had their draft plans reviewed by Saskatchewan Education’s Response Planning Team (RPT), in order to ensure that they adhere to the Primary and Secondary Institution Guidelines.
The safety areas highlighted in the plan include:
- Students must stay home if they’re sick
- Buses are required to be cleaned after its route and students should have assigned seats. Those in the same household will be seated together.
- If possible, the ministry encourages parents to take their kids to and from school
- Schools need dedicated quarantine areas for staff and kids who show symptoms of COVID-19 until a someone can pick them up.
- Recess and class start times should be staggered.
The plan also stated the need for increased sanitation measures which includes “increased availability of hand sanitizer wherever possible” and “custodial staff will provide consistent sanitation of school facilities.”
Saskatchewan’s full Safe Schools Plan can be found on the province’s website.