Bluewater District School Board (BWDSB) released a "Welcome Back" guide to returning to school September 4. The video was posted to BWDSB's YouTube channel and shared to social media and talks students and caregivers through the return to school process such as scheduling, staggered entry, PPE availability and requirements and physical distancing.

In her introduction, Lori Wilder, Director of Education, said that staff has been working with the Grey Bruce Health Unit and the Ministry of Education and that current evidence and experience supports the concept that children can return to school "in a carefully structured manner that protects children's health and minimizes risk."

"We want to make sure everyone stays healthy and safe so some things will look quite a bit different in our schools this fall," said Wilder. "This video is intended to provide an overview of measures and processes that have been put in place to keep students and staff safe."

Elementary students will attend school daily and will be taught all curriculum subjects in the same classroom where they will remain all day. Subjects such as French and music will be taught in the same classroom with those teachers rotating between classrooms.

Secondary students will also attend for full days using a quadmester system. Each quadmester is 10 weeks in length and consists of two classes with students alternating between classes on a weekly basis.

Students whose parents and caregivers have elected remote learning will learn through online and teacher assigned learning and will be done through scheduled live and learning activities.

Mental health and special education supports will be in place for students attending school and students doing remote learning.

The video goes on to cover COVID-19 symptom screenings, designated entrances, lockers (or lack thereof) and pick up and drop off locations. Masks requirements and availability as well as hand washing requirements were also discussed.

It walks students through mask wearing and safe removal and parents and caregivers of children who are unable to wear a mask are asked to contact their school's principal.

The video also discusses playtime, washroom breaks, outdoor and interactive activities, games and playground equipment. Masks are not required outside as long as students adhere to physical distancing requirements.

Elementary aged children will be eating lunch in their classrooms while secondary students will be able to eat lunch in the cafeteria or other designated areas while adhering to physical distancing requirements.

Short of specific classes being assigned, common areas such as libraries and gymnasiums will be closed. Physical education will be taught outdoors as often as possible. Any shared equipment will be cleaned and disinfected before and after use.

Breakfast Club programs will be conducted on a "grab and go" format and lunch programs are cancelled until further notice. Water fountains will be closed but water bottle filling stations or water bottles will be provided.

Information will be sent home as needed and updates will be provided through the BWDSB website[] and social media.

You can watch the Welcome Back video here: