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Back to School: Canadian Measures to Prevent COVID-19 in the Classroom

Throughout Canada, numerous students have been going back to school, whether it is one day per week, a few hours each day, a full day, or a hybrid with remote learning. The majority of schools have also been transitioning to a semester, or quad semester system, to avoid crowding, and have separated into learning groups otherwise known as cohorts. In British Columbia, the return to in-person classes will happen on a voluntary basis, and for many schools across the province, remote learning options are offered. However, the fear of transmission that accompanies the thought of going back to school is inevitable.


Increased Personal Protective Equipment


All members of school communities within Canada are required to wear masks at all times indoors and when social distancing cannot happen outside. The only exception is during lunch break, when students are permitted to remove their mask to eat. If they need to leave their desks, however, they must be wearing a mask.


Physical distancing between cohorts


Physical distancing of two metres is not mandatory within cohorts, but is encouraged.


Daily cleaning and disinfections


School custodial staff have been working tirelessly to keep schools as safe as possible through regular wipe-downs of high-touch surfaces and washrooms. Custodians at most schools have been wearing full PPE to keep themselves and the students safe. Next time you see your school's custodian, thank them for all of their hard work!


Required self-assessment health checks


Before entering the school, students are required to go through a list of protocol questions including symptom checking and in some scenarios, temperature checks. Prior to the reopening of schools, teachers attended virtual conferences where they learned how to incorporate these new health rules into their daily lives at school.


Assigned entrances to respective learning cohorts


To prevent over-crowding and high foot traffic, floors and walls are labeled to direct students from the different cohorts to their assigned hallways. Some schools only allow one cohort per hallway to contain students in their own cohort bubbles and avoid unnecessary contact.


Installation of Plexiglass


Plexiglass has been used as a protective layer for cashiers, food workers, and receptionists since the beginning of the pandemic. Now, it is being used in schools to allow students to approach their teachers for help without having to social distance.


Hand-sanitizing stations


Throughout schools, hand sanitizer is readily available at almost every corner. When entering and exiting a hallway, classroom, or the school, students are encouraged to apply hand sanitizer to kill any germs on their hands.


This week, we were fortunate enough to receive some behind-the-scenes photos from @bellstudentsenator. Bell High School, located in Ottawa, Ontario, has implemented many of these measures to ensure the safety of all students and staff.


This photo shows adhesive arrows being placed on the ground for students to follow, in hopes of avoiding crowding and reducing the risk of transmission. (@bellstudentsenator)


This photo shows a hand-sanitizing station placed at the school entrance, which will be used by staff and students to maintain proper hand hygiene. (@bellstudentsenator)


Although these measures may not be impeccable, we are all working together towards a safe and healthy new normal. Teachers and school board officials have done a great job at maintaining the safety of Canadian students through all of these new changes.


References

Engagement, G. C. (2020, September 14). B.C.'s Back to School Plan. Retrieved from

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/covid-19-return-to-school

Preparing K-12 School Administrators for a Safe Return to School in Fall 2020. (n.d.). Retrieved

from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/prepare-

safe-return.html


Featured image is courtesy of Wix



Article Author: Maria Giroux, Michelle Xiao

Article Editor: Victoria Huang