Hundreds of thousands of students are headed back to school on Monday (Jan. 10) amid high COVID-19 case counts and an Omicron surge.
Much about this return to school will be the same as it was in the fall – masks required and daily health checks – but some areas, like the notification system for COVID-19 exposures and cases, will be different.
On Friday, Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said that parents will only be notified of COVID exposures in schools when attendance drops below what she called “typical rates.”
If that happens, she said that public health could deploy additional measures like rapid testing. Parents are being asked to notify their schools if their children test positive for COVID-19 via a rapid test – these results are not reported in the daily COVID case counts – or if they are staying home due to illness.
Whiteside said that while the goal was for students to be in classroom, families should prepare for that to fluctuate.
“This means that learning at home may need to be in place for some students over the coming weeks or months,” she said.
Schools will be open this week with “re-enforced” safety measures, Whiteside said, which includes providing three-layer masks, staggering break times, reducing crowding, restricting visitors and shifting to virtual assemblies and staff meetings. Children ages five and up are eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19.