HALIFAX -- Students and teachers in Prince Edward Island schools can prepare for a 'nearly normal' return to school in September.

On Monday, Prince Edward Island’s Department of Education and Lifelong Learning released details for the 2021-2022 school year based on Public Health guidelines.

“The combined efforts of students, teachers, families, administrators and school staff helped make the last school year a success. Students attended in-class learning and participated in sports and extracurricular activities and our school communities embraced public health measures. Cases of COVID-19 within our schools were kept minimal and were quickly addressed with support from the Chief Public Health Office. We cannot take this for granted,” said Minister of Education and Lifelong Learning Natalie Jameson in a news release.

“The proactive and preventative measures we are taking this school year will build on last year’s successes, support student achievement and the continued well-being of students and staff.”

Students will not be organized into cohorts when classes start in September.

Students and staff will be recommended but not required to wear face masks during the upcoming school year, with the following guidelines in effect until at least October.

  • Masks are recommended for staff, students and visitors in all grades when transitioning through school building, but may be removed when seated in classrooms.
  • Masks are recommended for staff in classrooms in Grades K-6 when physical distancing is not possible
  • Masks are recommended for staff and students in all grades on school buses.

The province says enhanced cleaning and disinfection, regular hand-washing and screening and managing symptoms of COVID-19 will be critical components of the back-to-school plan.

The plan also outlines what school communities can expect based on community transmission risks and assumes that 80 per cent of eligible Island residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“It is our goal to have Island children return to school, under as normal conditions as possible, for a full year of in-class learning. CPHO has worked closely with officials from the education system to assist in preparing for the upcoming school year,” said Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Heather Morrison in a news release.

“As a province, the most important thing we can do to support our children, their families and the education system is to continue taking steps to limit the importation of COVID-19 and to limit any spread of the virus when we do have cases.”

The province says they plan on developing pop-up immunization clinics in schools for students and staff as necessary within the school community.

Additional staff resources will be hired to support the long-term impacts of COVID-19 at schools, including 50 teachers, 34 education assistants, 15 school counsellors, 14 youth service workers, 4 autism consultants, 21 bus drivers, 44 cleaners and 19 administrative support personnel.

You can find full details of P.E.I.'s back-to-school plan on the province's website.