COVID-19 and Back to School

2021-2022 Back to School Plan

The COVID-19 Back-to-School Public Health Guidance was released by the Chief Public Health Office in September 2021 and updated in January 2022. The plan describes what students, parents, guardians and staff can expect this school year.

The COVID-19 Back-to-School Public Health Guidance 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. Further enhanced public health measures were implemented in January 2022.

More information can be found on the Government of PEI website at https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/topic/back-to-school. The Department of Education and Lifelong Learning has also posted frequently asked questions at https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/education-and-lifelong-learning/back-to-school-guidance-faq.

Plans for the 2021-2022 school year 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

CPHO states: “Vaccination is the best protection against COVID-19 and its variants. Evidence on vaccine effectiveness against the Omicron variant continues to be gathered. Although breakthrough infections among vaccinated individuals occur, current vaccines approved for use in Canada appear to provide good protection against serious outcomes and hospitalization from this variant.”

It is recommended that everyone eligible be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with a complete series of Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccines.

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

Testing

Please note: For any student or staff member who previously tested positive on a lab-confirmed PCR or rapid molecular test at a testing clinic (not a rapid antigen test), please read the Government of PEI’s Information for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 FAQs for details on rapid antigen testing.

Testing schedule

Students should test at home on the Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week. In the event there is no school on any of these days, children should maintain the testing schedule. Families will be provided additional rapid antigen screening tests to permit weekly testing as required.

What to do with your rapid antigen test results

Rapid antigen test results do not need to be reported to the school. These additional testing requirements are intended to aid in early detection of positive cases and reduce the incidence and impacts of outbreaks in schools.

  • If the rapid antigen test is negative, the student can attend school.
  • If the rapid antigen test is positive, the student should go for a lab-confirmed test at a COVID-19 testing clinic. They should not attend school until they receive a negative result on a lab-confirmed test.
    • If the lab-confirmed test is positive, contact your child’s school, or the Education COVID-19 Response Team during after-hours and weekends at 1-833-308-0286, for further direction.

The following video provides guidance on how to test your child for COVID-19 using a rapid antigen test: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRrcdgrGlR8&ab_channel=PrinceEdwardIslandGovernment

Screening and managing symptoms of COVID-19

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

If you are feeling unwell or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, stay home. Access testing at a drop-in testing clinic at the earliest opportunity and self-isolate until the results are back. Drop-in testing clinic hours: https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/health-and-wellness/covid-19-testing-in-pei

Masking

All K-12 students, staff, and visitors are required to wear masks in all indoor areas of school facilities, including in classrooms, while transitioning between classrooms and other school areas, staff areas, and while on school buses. Masks are not required outdoors. Download the PSB Mask Use Procedure for detailed guidance.

See Wearing Masks in the Community and Workplaces for further information on mask use.

Cohorting

Cohorting is a measure intended to limit the impact of outbreaks within schools by keeping potential outbreaks contained to a smaller group of students and staff. Where possible, schools will implement cohorting of students and staff. More details are available in the updated Back-to-School Guidance.

Physical distancing

Students and staff are encouraged to select a small, consistent group of friends and colleagues to associate with in the school setting and on buses.

Schools will create space for physical distancing where possible.

Gathering and events

In-person gatherings and assemblies are paused until further notice.

Extracurricular Activities and School Sports

Coinciding with Step one of the province’s Moving On COVID-19 Plan, league games (including PEISAA sport) can be held, following public health measures.

Group extracurricular activities (band, chess club, etc.) may proceed if physical distancing is maintained at all times.

Students, staff or visitors who develop symptoms at school

If students develop symptoms while at school:

  • They should wear a 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 wear a 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 and 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, schools are undertaking enhanced cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces, particularly between cohorts or where no cohorting is possible.

Community Use of Schools

Coinciding with Step one of the province’s Moving On COVID-19 Plan, community use of facilities is permitted within the designated gathering limit.

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