Students are dropped off at school ahead of their first day of classes in Pickering, Ont., Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Thousands of students return to schools as new COVID-19 cases emerge

Experts say returning to class is important for children’s social and academic development

Thousands more students returned to class under new pandemic precautions Tuesday, as public health officials in Ottawa said they were assessing the risk to 200 students and staff linked to a handful of cases.

The staggered start opened doors to elementary and high school students in six provinces where a host of COVID-19 protocols have reimagined everything from seating to lunch breaks to the playground.

But the reopening came with news of cases at five French-language Catholic schools in Ottawa, where some students returned earlier this month.

Ottawa public health says people connected to four elementary schools and one high school tested positive after catching the virus outside of the school setting. They say 193 students and seven staff members were told late Monday night to stay home.

The cases emerge as Premier Doug Ford’s government continues to face criticism over its back-to-school plan, especially class sizes.

However, Ontario is among the provinces offering a mix of in-person classes and online learning for students who opt to stay home.

In some provinces, remote learning is limited to those with medical conditions.

ALSO READ: Lots to learn in COVID-19 orientation week for B.C. schools

Ontario’s education minister says he understands students, parents and teachers are concerned about the reopening.

Experts say returning to class is important for children’s social and academic development.

“If we continue to follow public health advice … I do believe that students can return to a safe and positive environment,” Stephen Lecce said in an interview.

Ontario’s four major teachers’ unions have appealed to the province’s labour board alleging the school reopening plan violates workplace safety laws.

Other boards in Ontario have delayed their restart over the next two weeks, with the country’s largest, the Toronto District School Board, set to begin a staggered opening next Tuesday.

Class also resumed in Manitoba and Saskatchewan with officials discouraging students from venturing outside cohort groups to minimize contact with others.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, Education Minister Tom Osborne says the majority of $13 million in federal school funding has gone to address busing.

Osborne says $10 to $11 million will go towards contracting additional bus services to allow for more space between students travelling to school.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusEducation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Two new COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health

The total number of Interior Health cases since the beginning of the pandemic is now at 522

The pandemic is far from over, says Kimberley Mayor

Be vigilant about hygiene, social distancing and masks, he says

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

Victoria-area RCMP locate high-risk sex offender thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

Most Read