Saskatchewan schools will look different for staff and students alike when they get back to class this fall.
The province has previously announced Pre-K to Grade 12 schools will probably be back to physical classes come September 1st. When they re-open, schools will have increased sanitation and distancing measures.
Minister of Education Gordon Wyant says he does not anticipate having to bring in extra staff or split classes. He says there is a $200 million contingency fund for issues associated with COVID-19 they can dip into should schools need it.
Recess, lunch and class transitions will be staggered to enhance physical distancing. Schools are told to re-tool classrooms, boot-rooms or washrooms to help keep distancing in place as well. The government says plans will also need to be put in place to reduce contact-physical activities.
For young kids, maintaining physical distancing is being considered less practical and instead, kids will be taught to reduce physical contact. This can be done through games and lessons showing them how to avoid close greetings, like hugs or high-fives, in favour of distant greetings like “air-fives” or waves.
Other changes include increased hand washing, sanitizing, and reducing the number of shared materials and touchpoints. Schools will also have to establish clear protocols for materials brought to school, like bags or school supplies. Whenever possible, parents should not enter the school, and instead, use the phone or video conferencing to talk to school staff.
If a staff member or student is sick with COVID-19 symptoms or have been around someone with these symptoms, they should stay home. In case they can’t get home right away, an isolation area will be established in the school.
Once the student or staff member leaves, the area they were in and anything they touched will have to be sanitized. Parents and caregivers should keep an eye on their children for these symptoms.
Masks or eye equipment will not be required, except if someone needs to be in close contact with a sick kid or staff member.
Guidelines for extracurricular activities will be announced later when the government has a better picture of what gathering size limits will be.
A full list of the new guidelines can be found on the Government of Saskatchewan’s website.