Students are dropped off at school ahead of their first day of classes in Pickering, Ont., Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Thousands of students return to schools as new COVID-19 cases emerge

Experts say returning to class is important for children’s social and academic development

Thousands more students returned to class under new pandemic precautions Tuesday, as public health officials in Ottawa said they were assessing the risk to 200 students and staff linked to a handful of cases.

The staggered start opened doors to elementary and high school students in six provinces where a host of COVID-19 protocols have reimagined everything from seating to lunch breaks to the playground.

But the reopening came with news of cases at five French-language Catholic schools in Ottawa, where some students returned earlier this month.

Ottawa public health says people connected to four elementary schools and one high school tested positive after catching the virus outside of the school setting. They say 193 students and seven staff members were told late Monday night to stay home.

The cases emerge as Premier Doug Ford’s government continues to face criticism over its back-to-school plan, especially class sizes.

However, Ontario is among the provinces offering a mix of in-person classes and online learning for students who opt to stay home.

In some provinces, remote learning is limited to those with medical conditions.

ALSO READ: Lots to learn in COVID-19 orientation week for B.C. schools

Ontario’s education minister says he understands students, parents and teachers are concerned about the reopening.

Experts say returning to class is important for children’s social and academic development.

“If we continue to follow public health advice … I do believe that students can return to a safe and positive environment,” Stephen Lecce said in an interview.

Ontario’s four major teachers’ unions have appealed to the province’s labour board alleging the school reopening plan violates workplace safety laws.

Other boards in Ontario have delayed their restart over the next two weeks, with the country’s largest, the Toronto District School Board, set to begin a staggered opening next Tuesday.

Class also resumed in Manitoba and Saskatchewan with officials discouraging students from venturing outside cohort groups to minimize contact with others.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, Education Minister Tom Osborne says the majority of $13 million in federal school funding has gone to address busing.

Osborne says $10 to $11 million will go towards contracting additional bus services to allow for more space between students travelling to school.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusEducation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Sarah Simpson Column: Mistakes will happen but kindness prevails

You know those jerks who always follow the trail directions wrong? I… Continue reading

New ACT team will help Cowichan residents struggling with mental health issues

The Cowichan Valley ACT team will be one of six new teams being created across the province.

Duncan man at large after massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

Bob Day making another run for mayor of Lake Cowichan

Day has served 10 years as town councillor

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vancouver Island Tour de Rock riders roll into Parksville Qualicum Beach

Saturday’s schedule includes Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino, followed by Nanaimo on Sunday

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Most Read