Part 5 – school
For the entire world, school this year is going to be looking very differently than it did last year. Here in Toronto, we have a few regulations that we need to follow, so I’m gonna talk about them. Just a little bit.
I work at a private school, which means that my school has to follow what the minister of education says we must do, but we don’t have to follow what the Toronto District School Board is doing. We basically act as our own school board, just with one school in it.
So September for my specific school is going to be pretty much the same as the rest of the province:
- staggered entry for the first week of school (which doesn’t make sense for how our building is set up but that’s ok!)
- at least 1 meter (3 feet) of space between desks
- all staff must wear masks at all times indoors
- Grades 4-12 must wear masks
- increased ventilation
- no cross over between buildings (one building is nursery to grade 3, the other 4-12, some staff used to teach at both)
- students will be cohorted (we have two sections for each grade, so each section is a cohort) and will not mix at all during the day (lunch/recess/before school/after school = no mixing)
- teachers will be switching classes this year, not students
- increased hand washing and sanitizing, temp checks, etc
- students/staff to stay at home if they have any COVID symptoms
- high school classes are capped at 15 and will attend on alternate days
- no use of equipment for gym class, no music class
- no sharing of classroom supplies
- attendance is not mandatory this year as we are working with a hybrid model
- parents have a choice of either in school or online learning
- can change their option every two weeks
- there will be a live stream of every lesson, controlled by the teacher, but will not include any class discussion or independent work time. Just the instructional time (like 5-10 minutes every period)
- worksheets and handouts, due dates, assignments, etc will continue to be posted to Google Classroom
So that’s what we know so far. The Toronto District School Board has followed the example set by other school boards in the province and has made masks mandatory for all students from jk-12. The Premier is all “disappointed” with the TDSB for doing this but he won’t stand in their way. They are following his mandate of masks from 4-12, just expanding it for the lower elementary grades.
I don’t understand why he’s only disappointed in the TDSB when at least three other school boards announced last week that they will be doing the same. The TDSB doesn’t even have an approved back to school plan because the education minister keeps rejecting their plan. They want smaller class sizes, which have been capped at THIRTY instead of the recommended 15 (by health officials). Thankfully we don’t have to get approval because we aren’t funded by the province. As long as we are following the guidelines set by the province we are ok. Which we are!
We don’t have decreased class sizes, but we also don’t have the funding to hire more teachers to facilitate that. My sections last year were 22 and 25 students. This year I am 18 and 19 I think – 37 have registered but I don’t know how they will be splitting the students.
So…..that’s the plan as of right now. I am hoping that our board of directors will be implementing masks for lower elementary as well. I know a lot of people are like “it won’t work in kindergarten classes” but I respectfully disagree. I have lived in South Korea and have seen masks on toddlers up to grandparents. They just need to get used to them and they will be fine. It’s not this huge deal that everyone is making it out to be. Anyone over the age of 2 has to wear them in any indoor public space in all of Toronto so why is that different for schools?! It shouldn’t be!
As a teacher I will have to wear a mask at all times. I have 20 of them so woohoo! Lots of choices and have enough to switch out wet ones for dry through out the day which is amazing. Our school has bought face shields and other PPE for staff. I was hoping that I could just wear the face shield for instructional time (since there will be no carpet time I will be teaching at the front of the class all day) and then put on my mask for up-close help, but I have to wear the mask regardless. So that will be an adjustment but I will adjust and our students will too. There are ads and commercials encouraging parents to get their child used to a mask now instead of waiting for September 8th and just expecting them to be ok wearing a mask at school when they haven’t been using one before. I hope that happens.
My friend participated in a study with Sick Kids Hospital around teaching and masks. Their findings should be ready by Monday and I will share them when they are released. It sounded very similar to this Mythbusters episode: