FREDERICTON (GNB) – Support will continue to be available for vulnerable students upon their return to school in September.

Families of students with significant medical conditions are asked to consult with their health-care provider to determine whether it is safe for them to attend school. If they are advised that the student should not attend school, families are encouraged to contact the school principal beginning Aug. 31 to discuss plans to ensure they can continue learning at home.

Districts and schools will work with the families of medically vulnerable students to develop a plan to ensure that they have consistent access to education, based upon their needs and situation.

Students currently on personalized learning plans will continue to follow their plans. All students in kindergarten through Grade 8 who are not medically vulnerable will attend school full time. Many high school students will be attending classes every other day, however, high school students with complex needs will attend full time to ensure consistent access to the services and support they require.

Educational Support Services teams will contact identified families between Aug. 31 and Sept. 4 to work with them in the development of their child’s personalized learning plan. Any students who have previously been provided assistive technology will continue to have access to that technology. This applies to students in all grades.

Schools and school districts have been reminded that students who were not considered vulnerable or at risk prior to the pandemic may now be experiencing difficulties that affect their well-being, mental health and learning abilities. Individual support plans will be developed for these students as well.

Any student whose family has decided not to send them to school for any reason or because of the pandemic will be required to complete the annual home-school request form.

COVID-19 testing for teachers and school staff

Public Health will make COVID-19 testing available for asymptomatic teachers or school staff who are concerned about potential exposure to the virus.

“Providing regular testing for asymptomatic teachers and school staff will help to better identify and isolate cases in schools,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health.”

Transportation

Unless a student is staying home for medical reasons, vulnerable students travelling on a school bus will follow the same directives previously shared by the department.

All students will sit in the same seat on their school bus every day. To promote physical distancing, buses will be filled from back to front. Clear curtains are also being installed to provide a physical barrier between bus drivers and students while students are getting on and off the bus. Since K-5 students are not required to wear masks, they will sit one student per seat, or with a member of their household. Students in Grades 6 to 12 wearing masks will sit two to a seat, but do not have to wear masks if they are sitting alone or with a member of their household.

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development has released a parent and public guide supporting the Return to School: September 2020 plan for the public-school system.

The Return to School: Guide for Parents and the Public provides a detailed overview of what students, parents and guardians need to know before returning to school in September. It outlines the requirements schools and school districts must meet while developing their COVID-19 operational plans, which will be made available to parents. It works in conjunction with Public Health guidance to the department and may be changed based upon the evolution of the pandemic.

The department will continue to work with educators, schools and school districts in the coming months. Schools and districts will make individual school operational plans available to parents on Sept. 3.

Parents with questions about the Return to School plan can email edcommunications@gnb.ca. For questions about the Laptop Subsidy Program, parents can call 1-833-901-1963 or email EECDRTS-EDPERAE@gnb.ca.