As of November 27, Saskatchewan's Chief Medical Health Officer released updated guidelines stating that masks will be required for all students, employee and visitors in schools, with the exception of while they are consuming food or beverages. This will apply to all children aged three and up, who are able to wear a mask.
On November 13, the province's Chief Medical Health Officer released updated guidelines recommending that high schools with more than 600 students consider moving into Level 3 of the Saskatchewan Safe Schools Plan. This means that, if necessary, high schools can reduce in-class learning and transition to online/remote learning or a mix of online/remote and in-class learning methods.
In-class learning began across the province on September 8, to allow for additional training and preparation time for school staff. To support families with the transition to school, the ministries of Health and Education have created a Parent Package with information on how you can prepare students for the return to school, information on masks, testing options, notification process and the thresholds for changes to in-classroom learning.
In order to reduce transmission risk of COVID-19, parents, staff and students can expect to see measures in place to minimize physical contact, encourage proper physical distancing, and increase the cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces when schools resume in-class learning.
To support the Safe Schools Plan, the Government of Saskatchewan has allocated $40 million. The application-based funding will provide school divisions with access to PPE, learning supports (including online options) for immunocompromised and special needs students, and other pandemic related activities such as staffing and sanitation supplies.
This funding is in addition to the approximately $40 million in savings that school divisions had between March and June that they can use towards one-time pandemic-related costs.
On August 26, the Government of Canada announced that school divisions across the province will have access to additional funding as Saskatchewan is set to receive $74.9 million as a result of this a new funding commitment by the Government of Canada.
On August 4, the Government of Saskatchewan announced the Saskatchewan Safe Schools Plan. This plan guides the return to in-class learning throughout the province by providing direction to the education sector as students and staff prepare for their return to the classroom.
The eight areas of focus of the Saskatchewan Safe Schools Plan are:
The Saskatchewan Safe Schools Plan was developed by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with Saskatchewan Education's Response Planning Team and Saskatchewan's Chief Medical Health Officer.
Under the Saskatchewan Safe Schools Plan, there are four phases of education delivery in the province:
- Level 1 – Full in-class learning with some additional measures to ensure student and staff safety.
- Level 2 – Full in-class learning – Mask usage for students and staff, as per the guidance provided to school divisions by Saskatchewan's Chief Medical Health Officer.
- Level 3 – Reduced in-class learning.
- Level 4 – Transition to alternative learning opportunities offered by divisions.
On August 11, the province and Saskatchewan's Chief Medical Health Officer, provided additional guidance for school divisions to support the safe return of children to school.
For those divisions exploring measures in Level 2 of the Safe Schools Plan, the following guidance has been provided by Saskatchewan's Chief Medical Health Officer:
- Students in grades 4 through 12 and school staff, wear masks in high traffic areas, such as in hallways and on buses.
- Masks may also be required for students in grades 9 through 12 and staff, in classrooms where it is not possible to maintain physical distancing or if a student has to attend a class outside of their cohort.
The Chief Medical Health Officer also directed the following additional measures to be included in all school division plans:
- teacher and class cohorting, with a focus on cohorting teachers to a limited number of students and keeping students in one cohort as much as possible;
- in elementary school settings, students' cohorts will be the classroom;
- in high school settings where cohorting is more complex, school divisions will be encouraged to find creative solutions to move students in cohorts where possible;
- front-facing instruction for students, any exceptions will be identified for approval by public health; and staggered start times, breaks and end times, where possible
The Government of Saskatchewan is increasing COVID-19 testing for all Saskatchewan residents with schools being a key focus. The school testing plan includes targeted monitoring, testing of students with parental consent and priority testing for teachers and school staff ahead of and during the school year.
School divisions have developed local plans for use in their school communities and these are available on their websites. These division plans adhere to the Primary and Secondary Institution Guidelines that were distributed to divisions in June and align with the direction of the Saskatchewan Safe Schools Plan. It is important to note that these division plans will continue to be updated as the situation in our province changes and on the advice of the Chief Medical Health Officer.
To view your local school division plan you can check out your school division website:
School divisions used their division-wide plans to create and implement school-specific plans that provide families with more details on the supports and additional measures that will be in place.
School level plans are available online, as of August 26, and have been communicated to families.
Through the pandemic, the Ministry of Education has maintained regular communication with school divisions and education sector partners in preparation for the return of in-class instruction in September. The Ministry of Education will continue to work with school divisions to support student learning.