Grand Erie District School Board has opted for a staggered entry for all its elementary and secondary students in September.

“The staggered entry allows students to ease into their back-to-school routines, including new health and safety procedures for COVID-19,” said JoAnna Roberto, Director of Education.

“It also allows students and staff to get to know each other in smaller groups. We must remember that it’s been more than six months since they’ve been in the school together, so this is an important step in setting the tone for the year ahead.”

Elementary schools will see students attending in-class instruction in the following order:

Tuesday, September 8 No classes
Wednesday, September 9 No classes
Thursday, September 10 Students with last names A-L
Friday, September 11 Students with last names M-Z
Monday, September 14 Students with last names A-L
Tuesday, September 15 Students with last names M-Z
Wednesday, September 16 All students moving forward

Secondary schools will see students attending in-class instruction in the following order:

Tuesday, September 8 No classes
Wednesday, September 9 No classes
Thursday, September 10 Grade 9 students only
Friday, September 11 Students with last names M-Z
Monday, September 14 Students with last names A-L
Tuesday, September 15 All students moving forward

During the staggered entry, siblings will be kept together in an effort to help families with child-care needs.

Elementary and secondary students in self-contained special education classes will return full-time, every day beginning Thursday, September 10.

Aligning with best practices from across the province, Grand Erie has made a change to its secondary quadmester model.

Students will still take two courses per quadmester. However, instead of attending both classes daily, students will take one course per day for a full week. They will then alternate weekly between the two courses.

“The goal is to keep students in similar cohorts for an entire week,” said Roberto.

“This will assist our pubic health partners with contact tracing, should we be faced with a positive COVID-19 test. It also creates a strong learning environment for students who can focus on one course at a time.”

To assist families with their back-to-school plans, Grand Erie shared two new resources on Thursday.

The School Re-Opening Parent Guide provides families with all of the details for back-to-school in September.

Grand Erie’s Safe & Inclusive Schools and Mental Health & Well-Being teams also created Setting the Stage for Back-to School. This online resource focuses on mental health supports for parents and families to assist their children with returning to school in September.

“We want families to know that we’re in this together,” said Anderson.

“While this back-to-school will look much different than previous ones, our goal remains the same: a great start to the school year for all of our students. I’m confident that if we all remain calm and focused on our students, we will all get through this.”

Next week, Grand Erie will provide more details to families regarding next steps for those who selected online learning for this fall.

“We’re excited to welcome our students back,” said Board Chair Greg Anderson.

“Our staff have worked hard this summer to put plans in place for the new school year. The safety and well-being of students is our highest priority and it will remain top of mind as we move forward together.”