Public board plans staggered start to school year

In a bid to help students practise and understand new health and safety practices in smaller groups, the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) will offer a staggered entry for both elementary and high school students.

The board will also spend more than $15 million to hire 150 teachers and educational assistants to support students and smaller class sizes in elementary schools as schools reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Welcoming students back in smaller groups enables teachers to better help students transition back to school and to new school routines,” says Director of Education Louise Sirisko. “It also gives school staff additional time to prepare schools and classrooms for a safe return.”

The Ministry of Education is allowing school boards to stagger the return to school during the first week of school. The supported entry applies to both face-to-face and online students. Under the supported entry model (www.yrdsb.ca/schools/school-reopening/Pages/Supported-Entry.aspx), students will begin returning to school on Thursday, Sept. 10, although the start date may differ depending on their grade and cohort.

The board says consideration has been given to siblings, transportation, and before-and-after school programming. The regular school schedule for all students – both face-to-face and virtual – kicks off on Monday, Sept. 14.

The hiring of new teachers and educational assistants, meanwhile, will help reduce in-school class sizes wherever possible. “The Ministry of Education has provided some funding to assist with costs associated with COVID-19 and re-opening,” says Chief Financial Officer Vidyia Maharaj.

“Re-opening costs include personal protective equipment, additional training costs, additional staffing costs, student transportation costs, technology and other costs.” Information about expenditures related to re-opening during the pandemic, along with tips for talking with your child about COVID-19, are available on the YRDSB website at www.yrdsb.ca.

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