Schools set to welcome students with updated back to school plan

As schools prepare to welcome students and staff this fall, the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning continues to adapt its school plan to ensure safe and healthy school communities. 

Changes being announced today include updates to recommendations for mask use and an optional staggered start to the school year. 

“We want to ensure that students and staff can focus their attention on learning and not be concerned about their health and safety when school resumes this September. We will continue to work with our education partners to review our policies as the school year progresses and ensure a successful school year for all.”

-  Education and Lifelong Learning Minister Brad Trivers

Updates to the mask policy include:

  • masks will be required for all students K-12 while riding the bus;
  • masks will be required for bus drivers when they are not seated, facing forward and driving the bus;
  • masks will be required for students in Grades 7-12 during transitions and emergency procedures;
  • masks will be required for staff teaching Grades 7-12 during transitions and emergency procedures; 
  • masks will be required for any visitor to the school during transitions and emergency procedures; and 
  • exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

These changes were made in consultation with the Public Schools Branch, Commission scolaire de langue français, the Prince Edward Island Teachers’ Federation, Canadian Union of Public Sector Employees and the Prince Edward Island Home and School Federation along with Prince Edward Island’s Chief Public Health Office. 

Mask policies for students and staff in grades K-6 while in school have not changed. Masks are encouraged when physical distancing cannot be maintained. 

Schools and buses will have masks available for any student or staff member who needs one. 

In September, students, families and staff can expect to see the following in schools:

  • physical distancing, directional signage and increased hand washing and sanitizing stations;
  • staggered recess, lunch and arrival and departure times;
  • classrooms reorganized to increase spacing;
  • movement and schedules in cohorts to minimize contact;
  • cohorts will be kept as small as possible;
  • a focus on student and staff well-being;
  • revised curriculum to address potential gaps;
  • breakfast, snack and lunch programs will continue under CPHO food premises guidelines; 
  • students will have the opportunity to engage in all subject areas, although some subject areas may look different; 
  • school sports will be paused during school start-up; and
  • student committees such as Student Council activities will need to follow all guidelines and virtual options will be encouraged. 

Additionally, schools have the option to stagger start dates and hold an orientation day for new grades to the school on Tuesday, September 8th. If a school chooses to do this, the remaining grades would start school on Wednesday, September 9th. Schools will communicate directly to their school community with their intended start dates. 

The Province of Prince Edward Island has approved approximately $2 million through the COVID-19 Contingency Fund to support student learning, the well-being of students and staff and protect the health and safety of the school community. This includes adding additional teachers, educational assistants, counselling consultants, bus drivers and cleaners for the 2020-2021 school year. 

A recent investment of $10 million from the Government of Canada will further increase these activities and promote enhanced cleaning, transportation support, technology for remote learning and ongoing training for staff. More details on how these funds will be used will be announced in the coming days. 

For more information, including individual school operational plans, visit Back to School.

Media contact:
April Gallant
Department of Education and Lifelong Learning

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