COVID-19 and Back to School

2021-2022 Back to School Plan

The 2021-2022 Back to School Plan has been released by the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning (DELL) with guidance from the Chief Public Health Office. The plan describes what students, parents, guardians and staff can expect this school year.

The 2021-2022 Back to School Plan is based on community transmission risk and outlines the public health measures that will be implemented in both low risk and elevated risk scenarios.

As of September 12, 2021, all Island schools are in a state of elevated risk.

More information, including the full back-to-school plan and frequently asked questions can be found on the Government of PEI website at https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/topic/back-to-school.

Plans for the 2021-2022 school year will need to be flexible and recognize that COVID-19 may impact different schools, communities and regions at various times and levels. Schools will communicate regularly with parents and guardians on the operational plan for their schools based on the COVID-19 risk level.

Vaccinations

Being fully immunized is our best defense against COVID-19. The more individuals in PEI that are immunized, the more protection we have and the less risk of exposure in the community.

For our schools:

  • It is recommended that eligible students, staff, volunteers and families be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • The Public Schools Branch will work with public health to support vaccination among staff, students, volunteers and parents.

Information on COVID-19 vaccines, including how to get vaccinated can be found at https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/topic/covid-19-vaccines.

COVID-19 Protocols

Screening and managing symptoms of COVID-19

Students, staff and visitors should conduct daily self-screening for symptoms of COVID-19. Please use this COVID-19 screening tool each morning to decide if the student should attend school.

Masking

The following masking requirements are in place:

  • Masks are required for staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, when in common areas and when transitioning through the school building. Masks may be removed when seated in classrooms or meeting areas;
  • Masks are required for staff when working with Grades K-6 when physical distancing is not possible, regardless of vaccination status;
  • Masks are required for staff and students in grades 7-12, regardless of vaccination status, at all times when physical distancing is not possible;
  • Masks are required for staff who work with students in grades K-12 who are at higher risk of severe illness and outcomes from COVID-19 when physical distancing is not possible, regardless of vaccine status;
  • Masks are recommended inside all locations of the school for staff, students and visitors who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and who are not fully vaccinated; and
  • Masks will be required for staff and students in all grades on school buses. (Bus drivers may remove masks when seated, facing forward or driving the bus.)

The updated PSB Non-Medical Mask Procedure contains more details on the PSB’s masking requirements, including exemptions.

There will be ongoing evaluation of these measures by the Chief Public Health Office.

Cohorting

As a result of PEI moving into an elevated risk scenario, some cohorting is recommended. More details are available in the 2021-2022 Back to School Plan.

Physical distancing

Physical distancing is not required, however, preventing crowding in indoor common spaces, such as entrances, hallways, gymnasiums, and buses, is encouraged.

Students, staff or visitors who develop symptoms at school

If students develop symptoms while at school:

  • They should be given and wear a non-medical mask, unless there are safety issues that prevent the person from wearing a mask.
  • Parents or guardians should be notified to come and pick up their child immediately and follow public health advice regarding testing and isolation.
  • If the student is young and requires close contact and care while isolated at school, staff can continue to care for the child until the parent is able to pick up the child. Caregivers should be mindful of hand hygiene and avoid contact with the respiratory secretions of the student. The staff person caring for the child should wear a mask.

If staff or visitors develop symptoms while at school:

  • They should be given and wear a non-medical mask (unless there are safety issues that prevent the person from wearing a mask), immediately isolate themselves from other staff and students, notify their administrator, return home and follow public health advice regarding testing.

For anyone who develops symptoms at school:

  • Shared items should be cleaned and disinfected as per guidelines.
  • Staff, students, and visitors should wash their hands before and after touching any items used by the person with symptoms.
  • If testing for COVID-19 is advised and students, staff, and/or visitors with symptoms have tested negative for COVID-19, they may return to school if they are feeling well and symptoms have resolved.

Health & Safety

Hand hygiene

Hand hygiene is a simple and effective defense against COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Hand hygiene includes hand washing with soap and water or using alcohol-based sanitizer.

Students, staff, and visitors should perform hand hygiene frequently during the day; hand washing with soap and water is preferred when hands are visibly soiled.

Cleaning and Disinfection

As a result of PEI entering an elevated risk scenario, there will be an increase in the frequency of cleaning and disinfection for frequently touched surfaces, particularly between cohorts or where no cohorting is possible.

Community Use of Schools

Community use of school facilities and access to buildings will follow current community public health measures.

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