HALIFAX -- Public schools in Prince Edward Island will return to full-time, in-class learning on September 8, government officials announced Wednesday.

“We know how important it is for families and students that in-class learning resume this fall to support the social, academic and mental well-being of Island students,” said P.E.I. premier Dennis King. “Since the start of this pandemic, our province has implemented measures to ensure the health and safety of Islanders and that has put us in a good position. Those same measures will guide our back to school plans and ensure that students and staff can return to school safely and successfully.”

The plan for the 2020-21 school year was developed with education partners based on guidelines from the Chief Public Health office.

“The last few months have been a challenging time for children, parents and teachers, and I want to commend everyone for adapting so well. Now, I look forward to seeing Island children head back into classrooms, the best place to allow them to learn and also socialize,” said Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Heather Morrison. “The plan for the 2020-2021 school year includes many important public health measures, ensuring that we are making the return to schools as safe as possible. Public health will continue working closely with the Department of Education to monitor and adjust the plan as necessary going forward.”

P.E.I.’s back-to-school plan includes the following safety measures:

  • 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;
  • All school bus riders and drivers are strongly encouraged to wear a mask;
  • All staff in K-12 will wear masks in areas where physical distancing cannot be maintained such as classrooms and hallways;
  • Students in K-6 may wear masks in school when physical distancing cannot be maintained;
  • Students in grades 7-12 are strongly encouraged to wear masks in school when physical distancing cannot be maintained such as classrooms and hallways;
  • 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.
  • Student Committees such as Student Council, Leadership and their events will need to follow all guidelines and virtual options are encouraged. 

Additional staffing resources will be added to allow for increased cleaning of high-contact services, proper resources to cohorts, and address learning gaps and the well-being of students impacted by COVID-19, additional staffing resources will be added.

“We are determined to do everything we can to safely return to school this fall. Through the input and support of our education partners including educational authorities, administrators, unions, parents and students we have developed a clear and detailed guideline for success,” said Minister of Education and Lifelong Learning Brad Trivers. “Over the next week, individualized plans for schools will be developed by principals and made public so that parents, students and staff can be comfortable and prepared when school starts this September.”

More information on the province’s back to school plans, is available at: www.princeedwardisland.ca/backtoschool.