Grand Erie District School Board (GEDSB) and Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board (BHNCDSB) welcomed students in the County of Brant, City of Brantford and Six Nations of the Grand River back to school without COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday, September 6.
For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the school year is starting with students across Ontario able to attend class without wearing a mask.
Students also have access to extracurricular activities for the first time since then, as the province’s education minister Stephen Lecce stressed the need for the return to the “full student experience” earlier in the summer.
GEDSB Chair, Susan Gibson, and Director of Education, JoAnna Roberto, shared a welcome back message about their plans to support students in the return to the classroom.
“While the last few years have been challenging, we want to assure our families that Grand Erie’s educators and leaders are prepared and eager to do what they do best and get us all on the path to success,” the statement read. “With expanded resources to help move us past the pandemic, a robust plan to support students’ mental health and well-being and a collaborative approach to finding solutions to the challenges education faces, we have good reason to be optimistic about the year ahead as we work towards our goals. Together, we are ready to learn, lead and inspire.”
The board shared with families their guidelines amidst the return to schools, noting that hand sanitizer is available at all schools, and masks and rapid antigen tests are also available, free of cost, for students and staff. While the self-screening assessment is no longer required, individuals exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 are asked to stay home until well.
Chair of the BHNCDSB Board, Rick Petrella, also released a welcome message to families ensuring the board’s commitment to student safety.
“As we begin the new school year together as a Catholic community, we are pleased to be able to welcome back students and staff to our buildings and are grateful that you continue to put your trust in us,” Petrella said. “Although the COVID-19 Pandemic has not been declared over, we are hopeful that the progress we have seen, and the return to normalcy, will continue. The safety of our students, staff, and community is our priority and affects every decision the board makes.”
Ontario’s top doctor announced last week that people who test positive for COVID-19 no longer have to isolate for five days but can return to work or school once their fever is gone and their other symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours. But the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation say they’re worried allowing children and educators to return to the classroom while still potentially contagious could cause the virus to spread faster in schools.