Sask. releases back-to-school guidelines

Saskatchewan has released its guidelines for students returning to school this fall, and there will be a few changes for those who ride the school bus to get there.

There will be a seating plan that students will be required to follow. This is important to assist with contact tracing in the event of a positive case.

Education minister Gordon Wyant said family members will be seated together to minimize risk.

“At the present time there is no plan to restrict the number of children that are on a bus,” he said.

“It really comes down to a practical problem with respect to the availability of transportation. We’re going to encourage parents to transport their kids wherever possible.”

Close contact on buses notwithstanding, the guidelines are designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread by minimizing physical contact, especially for younger children.

Students from pre-Kindergarten through to Grade 12 are, at this point, expected to be back in classrooms around Sept. 1.

Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said the guidelines are based on the best evidence from jurisdictions that have re-opened.

Extra attention will be paid to proper hand washing, and large assemblies won’t likely be held.

Reduced physical contact when entering schools, staggered recess and lunch times and modified classroom configurations, where possible, are among the guidelines.

As well, there will be protocols around what materials are shared and what materials can be brought into and out of schools.

Plans for extra-curricular activities will be developed closer to the fall, and field trips aren’t on the agenda.

All schools will have procedures in place for enhanced cleaning and sanitizing.

Wyant said the goal is to have students return to schools that are as normal and comfortable as possible.

“We are open to any input from school divisions and teachers and may tweak these guidelines between now and the start of the school year,” he said.

He thanked parents, teachers and students for their patience during the pandemic restrictions.

“We all know that Mom and Dad aren’t as cool as your regular teacher,” he said to children.

The full guidelines can be found on Saskatchewan.ca.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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