30 July 2020 – Ontario releases plan for safe reopening of schools in September

Type of Intervention: Guidance, Specific Action
Sectors Involved: Education, Health
Intervention Categories: Social and physical distancing measures; Reopening schools; Planning and strategy; Creation of or release of plans
Level of Jurisdiction: Ontario
Lead People/Agency: Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Ronald Cohn, President and CEO of SickKids

Overview: The Ontario government released a plan for reopening schools in September, including for in-class instruction. The government explains that the plan intends to prioritize the health and safety of students and staff while keeping regional differences in trends of public health indicators in mind. The plan includes reopening elementary schools (kindergarten to grade 8) across Ontario, using in-class instruction 5 days a week. Secondary schools will begin school in September with adapted part-time attendance using in-person and online methods. Secondary school class cohorts will be up to 15 students on an alternating schedule. Students from grades 4 through 12 will also be required to wear masks. Parents have been offered the option to enrol their children in remote delivery.

The province is also implementing more public health protocols in effort to promote student and staff health and safety. This has led to a $300 million investment into things like the procurement of masks for students and staff, teacher staffing support to keep class sizes small, hiring up to 400 more public health nurses with a school focus, cleaning of school buses, etc.

Public health will work alongside the Ministry of Education and school boards to monitor and report on the health status of schools, a part of the province’s outbreak management plan. This plan was developed with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of the Solicitor General, and Ministry of Health. The outbreak management plan outlines protocols that can be enacted quickly to identify, track and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in school communities.
Full details here: https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/07/ontario-releases-plan-for-safe-reopening-of-schools-in-september.html

Other links: 1 2 3
Type of Justification: Advice of INTERNAL government advisory committee or group, Advice of EXTERNAL expert advisor or advisory committee
Source of Evidence or Justification: National – government
Evidence/Justification: The Ontario government explains that the returning to school plan was developed in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Ontario’s COVID-19 Command Table, and paediatric experts at SickKids Hospital in Toronto, ON. They justify the reopening plan by explaining that it was developed with the single intention of keeping children safe. The government explains the adaptability of the plan to accommodate regional differences in COVID-19 trends and their commitment to consistent investment in resources, staffing, cleaning, and implementing strict public health measures. The only direct evidence linked is the federal guidance for school bus operations.