Back to School in Canada

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Back to School in CanadaIn this article, we will discuss the fears we are facing as we send our kids and grandkids back to school in Canada.

I must admit I was terrified of sending our grandkids back to school, especially since one of those grandkids has type 1 diabetes.

So yes, I am afraid of sending him back to school, so is my daughter.

Having type 1 diabetes means Alex is immuno-compromised.

This means that if he were to get COVID, he is at an increased risk of developing complications or even death.

Because of COVID, the kids have essentially been out of school for six months.

I know they were doing online classes to finish up the last school year but I am referring to physically being in the classroom.

So what are the schools doing to ensure the safety of all students?

Does what grade a child is in effect the safety precautions?

What about safety on school buses?

Are the safety precautions determined by each province or is is the same across the country?

These are very real concerns and my daughter and I have been seeking answers prior to sending the kids back in the classroom.

Will sending kids back to the classroom be safe

Back to School in Canada - classroom

While we have been having great fun and adventures with our grandkids over the summer, our governments and school boards have been desperately trying to come up with a back to school strategy.

Parents across the country are wondering if it is safe to send their kids back to school while still battling this pandemic.

Heading back to the classroom will look very different this year compared to previous years.

All things will be considered to make it as safe as possible. Things like reduced group sizes, wearing masks, staggered lunchtimes, and more.

Parents across the country are wondering if it is safe to send their kids back to school while still battling this pandemic.

There are many things that parents must consider such as:

  • their needs around work
  • the children’s need for education
  • childcare needs
  • transportation needs

So how do you know what to do?

What if your child also has diabetes which already adds additional strain to the day?

What measures are being taken

Back to School in Canada

Each province and territory is working in collaboration with school boards and individual schools to determine the safety measures to be implemented.

All back to school plans will include certain features:

  1. Physical Distancing: Distancing may work well for older students but isn’t really practical for younger students. 
  2. Additional cleaning and hygiene practices: This will include regular hand washing and sanitizing as well as strongly discouraging food sharing.
  3. Class groupings: Known as cohorts and means a certain amount of students can be within 2 meters apart. This is to try and reduce the number of people any one student is exposed to. In some cases, smaller class sizes will be implemented where possible.
  4. Daily self-screening: This would involve assessing yourself for symptoms and taking an online assessment.

Every Province is different

Back to School in Canada

We have grandchildren in several provinces. We have 3 grandchildren here in New Brunswick, 2 in Ontario, and 5 in Alberta.

Each province has both their own provincial government and their own school boards.

This means that what back to school looks like is slightly different within each province.

The Canadian Health Agency does offer back to school guidelines however each province does have its’ own guidelines they will be following.

You can check the guidelines specific to your province here:

I know here in New Brunswick, back to school looks a little different than previous years with staggered start times, wearing masks in public areas, and high school students will use a combination of distance learning and classroom time.

We only have one granddaughter in high school (she doesn’t mind attending classroom every other day), one in middle school and the rest are in elementary school, one is in daycare.

Several schools in Alberta have already experienced some new cases being identified and confirmed in several schools which have resulted in the closing of the affected schools.

Several Ontario schools and child care centers have also reported cases. Those affected have been isolated rather than close schools although I have heard of 1 school closing. Likely more will follow.

This has not affected any of our grandchildren yet but certainly increases our fears for their safety.

Here in New Brunswick

Full-time learning will be mandatory in New Brunswick. However, depending on the students’ grade level it may look different.Back to School in Canada - Alex

Kindergarten to grade 8 students will attend school full-time in smaller groups of 15. These groups will attend class, socialize, and even enter the school together but must maintain distance from other groups.

High school students will be required to attend class a minimum of every other day, with reduced class sizes. Each student is required to purchase their own laptops to bring to class to ensure continuity between in-class instruction and distance learning. The province is providing financial support for this purchase.

For students in grades 6 – 12, masks are necessary when outside the classroom. Younger students will be encouraged to also wear masks.

Hand sanitizing stations will be placed at entrances and in every classroom.

Drinking fountains will be replaced with water bottle filling stations.

TransportationBack to School in Canada

On school buses, curtains will be installed around drivers and if physical distancing is not possible when students are boarding or exiting the driver will wear a facemask and shield.

Students will sit in the same seat every day. To promote physical distancing buses will be filled from front to back since masks are not mandatory for students in grades K to 5. They will sit one student per seat or with a member of their household.

Grades 6 – 12 are can sit 2 per seat but are not required to wear masks if sitting alone or with a member of their household.

As for my grandkids here, they are in grade 1, grade 7, and grade 10 and they are just happy to be back to school.

Our grandkids in Alberta take the bus to school.

Here in New Brunswick, our grandkids don’t take the bus, they could but their parents decided they would rather drive them than have them not get home till 5 pm because the busses need to make 2 trips in order to have fewer students on the bus at one time.

Our son in law drops them off in the morning and picks them up after school.

Thankfully we run our blog-based business from home which makes us available as back up transportation for our grandkids or to help manage Alex’s diabetes if necessary. You can check out the training we used here.

Kids with Special Needs

Our grandson Alex is considered a special needs kid because of his type 1 diabetes.

While we have never treated Alex as though he has a disability,  the New Brunswick school board has given him that label which his parents are certainly not happy about.

He truly isn’t disabled. He really can do anything anyone else can do. He just may have to wait to have that snack or he may need to eat before he goes outside but he can certainly still go out to play at recess.

His ability to learn and develop socially is not affected in any way.

Back to School in Canada - Alex's schoolAlex’s school is a small country school and has students from Kindergarten through grade 2, after that the kids are bused into town for grades 3 through 12.

There are three TA’s (teacher assistants) at his school, one for each classroom which is amazing. Another great thing is the fact that there are smaller class sizes( Alex has 15 kids in his class.

Between the TA and the teacher, they are able to monitor Alex’s blood glucose and at lunchtime, my daughter or son-in-law goes to the school to administer his insulin.

Some schools have a nurse to administer insulin or other meds to students who require them. In many cases, teachers are trained to administer insulin.

Final Thoughts

While many are worried about sending our kids back to school in Canada, I find that I feel confident we can safely do this.

Yes, every province is different but they are all making what they believe to be the changes necessary to keep our kids safe and avoid having to close again.

Am I being overly optimistic?

I don’t think so. There is only so much we can do to protect our kids.

Keeping them home long-term hurts them more in the long run.

Kids need socialization with their peers that attending class offers.

Without that, I think we would have a serious problem with mental illness in our kids.

So yes having the smaller cohorts, staggered start times, distancing and masks in public areas will definitely help keep our kids safe.

I also believe these same safety measures that have been implemented against COVID will also prevent the spread of colds and flu.

Time will tell but I believe we are off to a great start.

I know my grandkids are glad to be back in school.

What are your thoughts as we send our kids back to school?

Have your fears been addressed by your school board?

Leave thoughts, ideas, and suggestions in the comment section below, and if blogging is something you are interested in check out our training here.


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4 thoughts on “Back to School in Canada”

  1. Hi Deborah,
    I can quite understand your worries. My child is a grown up, at her masters study, in a different country. She is old enough to know how to take care of herself, but, I’m still worried.
    This pandemic doesn’t seem to have any recognisable pattern, so everyone might be endangered.
    I know governments are trying. And that’s pretty much all they can do, for now, as we really know so little and no one can tell with certainty what’s the right thing to do.
    I also know many are upset by the measures, at least here in UK. Many say nothing of it is true. But, whatever is someone’s belief, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and I support all measures taken.
    At the same time, I know it’s not easy on anyone, not on rule-makers, not on children, nor parents. At least, in Canada you seem to have a lot of support, from some financial, through organisational.
    But, again, I’d also be afraid for my kids.

    Reply
    • Hi Kerryanne. I agree governments are trying to do what they can. In every country, there are those that don’t agree with the measures taken to try and protect everyone as well as those who will follow whatever safety measures are put in place. Regardless of one’s beliefs, I think we all care about the health and safety of our own families and friends. I think the biggest fear is the unknown. We don’t know how this will all turn out or when things will get back to normal and that can make us all feel unsettled. I agree it is better to be safe than sorry especially if you have a family member that is in the high-risk category such as our grandson who has type 1 diabetes. Because of him we take all safety measures seriously. I wish you and your family good health.

      Reply
  2. Hey there,

    I can only imagine the fear you’re experiencing of sending your grandkids back to school. Especially in those COVID circumstances.
    But I think it’s inevitable and as far as I know the Canadian government is acting adequately. With that in mind, only time will tell since the situation can change with the blink of an eye.

    Reply
    • Hi Asen. I also believe our government is doing what it can to ensure our safety. The fears with Alex are not only COVID related but also diabetes-related. It is difficult for teachers and TA`s to have the time to devote to one child’s medical needs. If they calculate his insulin wrong and give him too much or not enough it could result in hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia both of which can be quite serious. Yes, both diabetes and COVID can change in the blink of an eye. sometimes a little fear is a good thing as it makes us step up our game when it comes to our health and that of our family. Thanks for dropping by, I wish you good health.

      Reply

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