Back to school: what to pack for the first day and beyond

Lunch? Check! Water bottle? Check! Mask? Check! Hand sanitizer? Check!

Your back-to-school shopping list may have a few extra items on it this year, all in the name of health and safety.

In Simcoe County and Muskoka District, students in Grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear a mask. Those in earlier grades are urged to do the same. Parents are encouraged to practice the wearing of masks with their younger children before the start of school. It is a good idea to pack more than one mask, should the first become soiled.

Masks will be provided to those students who don’t have one.

Students should pack a lunch and a water bottle before heading off to school. Parents are welcome to send hand sanitizer and wipes to school with their child, so long as they are scent-free. Parents will not be permitted to drop off forgotten items.

“On the first day, entry into the school will look different,” said Catherine McCullough, interim Education Director of the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board. “We really will be keeping kids together as much as possible in their cohort. The way in which they enter the school, the way in which the teacher brings them into the school, and the timetable looks a bit different, such as where there is nutrition and activity breaks, and children will eat their lunch together.”

McCullough said there is plenty of personal protective equipment on site, not only for children, but for all staff, should they forget their masks.

The only access point that will be permissible in the school are for those individuals offering services to that school community, but parents are not to come into the school. McCullough said arrangements can be made through the front office for drop-off and pick-up.

“It’s not going to be parents lined up in the school building.”