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Back to School: Pandemic Guidelines for Regina Public and Catholic School Divisions

August 27, 2021

In August 2021, Regina Public and Catholic school divisions released their plans for the 2021-22 school year. These guidelines are based on the July 2021 Saskatchewan Provincial Safe School Plan. However, as with the 2020-21 school year, each school division as well as each school has formed their own guidelines that are subject to change as the school year progresses, with special attention being paid for the progression of COVID variants. While the Saskatchewan Government has removed all mandatory precautions for COVID-19 as of July 11, Regina schools are continuing to take precautions, especially given the high rate of unvaccinated children attending school largely due to age ineligibility. 

Regina Catholic schools:

Masking

  • Elementary schools: Largely due to age ineligibility, approximately 80% of RCSD elementary school students are not vaccinated. Masks are mandatory for all students, staff, and visitors while inside elementary schools. Elementary school students and staff do not have to wear masks while outdoors. Masking is required for all extracurricular activities at the elementary level.
  • High school: Approximately 60% of Regina high school students are fully vaccinated as of the middle of August 2021. High School students, staff, and visitors are strongly encouraged to wear masks while in the school. 
  • Transportation: Cleaning, disinfection, attendance, and seating policies will remain in place for school used Student First transportation. All students and staff must wear a mask while riding the bus to school. 

      Gathering:

      • Assemblies, recesses, bell schedule, and play structure use will be structured by each school according to group sizes. 
      • Lunch time will have assigned eating areas. 
      • Assigned bathroom pods for classes, increased sanitation, and the use of paper towels instead of hand dryers will continue. 
      • There are no physical distancing guidelines put in place for schools.

      Schedule:

      • High school will return to a schedule of 2 semesters, 5 periods per day, with optional early bird and lunch time courses.
      • A staggered start for kindergarten to grade 12 will be implemented. 

      Extracurricular activities

      • Clubs, activities, sport teams, and extracurriculars are permitted.
      • Inter-school sports and activities will resume.
      • Dance, drama, band, choir, and fine arts will resume regular activities.
      • Extracurricular activities and field trips will resume with some adjustments at the elementary level based upon the age and vaccination eligibility of participants.
      • Single day and overnight field trips will be considered in accordance with the RCSD Administrative Applications.
      • Nutrition Programs will resume with regular activities. Children are not permitted to be involved in the preparation of food. Good practice of controlling areas where children are eating (seated, hand hygiene, cleaning, and sanitation of food surfaces, etc.) will continue. 

      Vaccination

      • Vaccinations are strongly recommended for all staff and students over the age of 12. 
      • Contact tracing will continue. Rapid tests will also be offered.
      • If someone is sick, they should stay home. Absenteeism rates greater than or equal to 10% must be reported to public health. School staff have absentee and COVID-19 rights and responsibilities, and should refer to the Staff COVID-19 Absentee Guidelines. 

      Regina Public Schools:

      Masking:

      • Elementary schools: Students, staff, and visitors in elementary schools are required to wear masks at all times while in school. Masks are not required outdoors when physical distancing is possible. Masks are recommended outdoors if students cannot physically distance themselves.
      • High schools: All high school students and staff are strongly recommended to wear masks. All visitors to high schools are required to wear masks.
      • Transportation: All drivers, students, and staff using Regina Public Schools transportation are required to wear masks. Buses will operate at regular capacity, assigned seating will continue, and buses will continue to be disinfected regularly. 

      Gathering:

      • Elementary schools will use classroom cohorts for Pre-kindergarten to Grade 8.
      • All classes will maintain seating plans.
      • Schools will encourage physical distancing and spacing to the greatest extent possible.
      • Schools will manage the flow of people in common areas, including hallways, washrooms, and separate entrances for student entry and exit.
      • Large gatherings for elementary schools, such as assemblies, open houses, backpack nights, etc. are not permitted. 
      • Shared spaces for two cohorts of classes will be allowed only if necessary due to space availability.
      • Recess will return to pre-pandemic schedules.
      • Elementary students will remain in their cohorts for lunch.
      • Parents/caregivers are allowed on school property while dropping students off.

      Schedule:

      • High schools will return to a semester system.
      • Grades 9-12 will start school on September 1st.
      • A staggered start will be in place for grades 1-8 on September 1st and 2nd – with all students in attendance on September 3rd. Kindergarten will attend half the class on the initial two designated days, with all students in attendance by the 3rd designated day. Parents are encouraged to check individual school websites for specific school start-up dates.
      • School will return to the regular school day with supervised outdoor recess and lunch times.
      • Schools previously on the adjusted and alternate school day schedule are approved to maintain those times with supervised outdoor recess and lunch.

      Extracurricular activities:

      • Extracurricular activities, including sports, optional programming, and field trips are allowed, if they can be done safely.
      • Elementary field trips will maintain their classroom cohort.
      • Overnight travel remains prohibited.
      • Parent permission will be required for elementary extracurricular involvement as there will be cohort mixing.
      • Classroom cohorts will be in place for band. Instruments and indoor singing are permitted, with ventilation and appropriate spacing encouraged. 
      • Food services can operate fully. Students enrolled in food studies courses and school staff may handle, prepare, and serve food, following all safe food handling protocols.

      Vaccination

      • Vaccinations are strongly recommended for all staff and students over the age of 12. 
      • Contact tracing will continue. 
      • Schools will continue to designate a school staff member and an isolation area for anyone displaying COVID-19 symptoms.
      • If someone is sick, they should stay home. Absenteeism rates greater than or equal to 10% must be reported to public health.

      Keeping up with these everchanging guidelines may be stressful for caregivers and youth. This is not the only stressor that youth may be feeling. Back to school, online learning, and mask anxiety continue to be variables for the 2021-22 school year as the pandemic lingers on. Our resources on back-to-school anxiety, and online learning and mask anxiety may be helpful to support children and youth with these anxieties.

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