Jan
27
2022

Island students set to return to in-person learning next week

Island schools are getting set to reopen for in-class learning on Monday, January 31, with heightened health and safety measures in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission for students, staff and families.

“As we plan for the reopening of in-person learning, the safety of our students, educators, staff and families continues to be our top priority. We are implementing all of the public health guidelines provided by our Chief Public Health Office, and we are working to be ready for the COVID-19 realities we will face once in-class learning resumes” - Minister of Education and Lifelong Learning Natalie Jameson. 

The Chief Public Health Office provided the Department of Education with Return to School Guidance for January 2022, Chief Public Health Office Back-to-School Guidance – January 2022 all of which are being implemented in collaboration with the Chief Public Health Office and the provincial educational authorities.

Rapid testing for all students and staff at K-12 schools should be completed prior to the return to in-class learning.  All students and school staff will receive ten at-home rapid screening tests (5 prior to returning to school, and 5 the following week):

  • Before returning to school staff and students should complete two at home screening tests. Ideally the tests should be completed 48 hours apart. The first should be done two days before returning to school; the second should be done at home in the morning of the first day of school.
    • For example – if returning to school on January 31, the first test should be completed on Saturday, January 29 in the morning and the second test should be done on Monday, January 31, prior to leaving for school. 
  • Upon returning to school, students and staff should be tested three times per week. 
    • For example – individuals who return to school on Monday January 31, should test Wednesday, Feb 2 and Friday, Feb 4.
  • Going forward testing should be done on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week for the next two weeks (February 7, 9, 11 and 14, 16 and 18).
  •  In the event there is no school on any of these dates, children and staff should maintain the testing schedule.
  •  A decision regarding the need to continue regularly school testing will be made by mid-February by the Chief Public Health Office, and will be dependent on the impact of the fourth wave of the pandemic.

Test kits have instructions included. The government also has step-by-step videos available for parents on how to administer the rapid test at: COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests (self-test kits).

Students and staff can attend school if tests are negative, completed tests do not need to be shown to school staff. 

If tests show a positive result the individual must not attend school, and should visit a provincial COVID-19 testing clinic: COVID-19 Testing in PEI

Test kits have been delivered to schools throughout the province. School Administrators will be in direct communication with parents and staff to outline when and where they can pick up their testing kits. When you receive the tests kits, keep them in a safe, dry, indoor space and please do not use them until two days before you return to school.

When picking up testing kits, students and staff will also be supplied with a new face mask. Both pediatric and adult size masks will be available, depending on the age/size of the student. These are three-layer reusable, adjustable masks, with a carbon filter. Every filters are good for 24 hours of continuous use (or two school days); each individual will receive multiple filters, and the school will provide additional filters to students and staff as needed. All K-12 students, staff, and visitors are required to wear masks in all indoor areas of school facilities and while on school buses. Masks are not required outdoors, when eating/drinking or when engaging in physical activity. Other exemptions are outlined in the Return to School Guidance for January 2022 Chief Public Health Office Back-to-School Guidance – January 2022.

Unnecessary furniture will be removed from classrooms to support physical distancing. Cohorts of 50 or fewer is required wherever possible in Grades K-9 for students and staff during classroom learning, recess, and breaks. Due to class scheduling, cohorting is not required in Grades 10-12 unless the school population is small enough that it can be effectively implemented.

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

Portable HEPA filters have been installed in schools where mechanical ventilation systems do not already exist. All schools will maintain their enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols and hand hygiene practices.

No in-person gatherings or assemblies, including but not limited to school concerts, school dances, etc. will be permitted. School sports games and competitions continue to be on pause; however, team training and group extracurricular activities may resume in small consistent groups, if physical distancing is maintained and public health guidance is followed.

If at any time a student has to isolate due to COVID-19, or has tested positive for COVID-19, their parent or guardian should notify the school. The Education COVID-19 Response Team will notify parents when there is an exposure in their child’s class or bus.

The Department of Education and Lifelong Learning has developed new at-home support models for students who are required to self-isolate. Opportunities will be provided to support both student engagement and academic achievement in Language Arts, Mathematics, Sciences and English as an Additional Language.

“We know children learn best in the classroom, and many students have been missing their friends, their teachers and normal routines,” added Minister Jameson. “I encourage parents and guardians to talk to their children about COVID-19, about the new measures being put in place to protect them, and the changes they may see when they return to school.”

When schools reopen for in-class learning, remote learning will conclude. Educators will not be expected to teach both in-person classes and on remote platforms. For students who are required to isolate due to COVID-19, they will receive learning materials from their school and the new provincial models for remote learning will provide added supports. Anyone with questions or hesitations about returning to school, should reach out to student support services.

Classes are scheduled to resume on Monday, January 31st for students from kindergarten to grade 9. High School students will return to in-class room learning on February 3rd to coincide with the start of a new term. Teachers will continue to provide virtual supports on January 31 – February 1 as students finalize assignments and February 2 is an end of term Administrative Day (no classes for high school students). 

Parents/guardians must complete daily home screening of their child for symptoms of COVID-19 using the COVID-19 symptom screening tool. Students should stay home if they are feeling unwell and access testing at a drop-in testing clinic at the earliest opportunity. They should continue to self-isolate and not return to school until they receive a result from the testing clinic.

Families who have questions can reach out to their school administrator, or check out the Back-to-School Guidance FAQ.

Media Contact
Autumn Tremere
Education and Lifelong Learning
agtremere@gov.pe.ca

General Inquiries

Department of Education and Lifelong Learning
Holman Centre
Suite 101, 250 Water Street
Summerside, PE C1N 1B6

Phone: 902-438-4130
Fax: 902-438-4062

DeptELL@gov.pe.ca