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Students heading back to school

By Courtney Bachar

Durham District School Board students are heading back to school this Thursday, Sept. 9.

While some will be heading back to in-person learning, others have opted for virtual learning through DDSB@Home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the board, approximately 6,000 elementary and 1,900 secondary students opted for virtual learning this year.

In terms of COVID-19 vaccination rates, Durham students are sitting below the regional data, according to Associate Director Jim Markovski, who provided an update to board trustees at Tuesday night’s board meeting.

As of Sept. 1, 67 per cent of Durham students ages 12 to 17 have been fully vaccinated, and 76.6 per cent have received one dose.

Regional data for all eligible age groups is 75.4 per cent who are fully vaccinated, with 80.7 per cent having received one dose.

Markovski says efforts are taking place in partnership with Durham Region Health Department to increase vaccination rates.

Vaccination clinics will be available to all eligible students, staff and their family members, including two clinics at G.L. Roberts CVI and the DASS Oshawa campus this Friday, Sept. 10 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

As part of the health and safety protocols associated with in-person learning, all students in Grades 1 through 12 are required to wear masks while indoors, and masking will be strongly encouraged for kindergarten students.

Cohorting of students and physical distancing indoors will also take place.

Other health and safety protocols will include enhanced cleaning, hand-washing breaks, and students eating lunch in their classroom.

“We’re very excited and understand, based on the last year-and-a-half and the lessons we’ve learned during that period, the importance of welcoming students back and the transition back to learning this year,” says DDSB Director of Education Norah Marsh.

“We are going to focus on the relationship building, connections with students and appreciating that students will have varied experiences.”