As we enter the third week of school, Toronto Public Health (TPH) has just released updated guidance with regard to extra-curricular activities such as sports, clubs, bands, and fields trips. They are now recommending the gradual return of extra-curriculars as schools establish routines and cohorts, and are confident in health and safety protocols. This is very encouraging news as we know how important these activities are to students’ mental and physical health and overall school experience.
TPH guidance about extra-curricular activities including clubs, bands (with exception of wind & brass instruments) and sports with mixed cohorts includes the following:
- The gradual return of extra-curricular activities should begin with students between the ages of 12 and 17 (those eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccination)
- High-contact and high intensity activities (such as football, field hockey & basketball) are only recommended outdoors at this time. Masking is not required when participating in high intensity activities outdoors. Masks and physical distancing should be considered when possible.
- Low contact and low intensity activities (such as clubs, bands and some sports) are permitted indoors. Masking and physical distancing is required for indoor activities.
- Guidelines should be developed to limit the number of clubs/extracurricular activities/cohorts a student can participate in at any one time
- Individuals from different schools and mixed cohorts limit interactions to the outdoors.
- Guidelines should be developed for spectators to limit the spread of COVID-19.
TPH guidance about field trips includes the following:
- The gradual return of field trips should begin with students between the ages of 12 and 17 (those eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccination)
- A gradual return of field trips can occur, when health and safety protocols including infection prevention and control procedures are well established in the schools, taking into consideration low risk activities and settings.
- Field trips should only proceed when COVID-19 vaccine confirmation for volunteers is in place.
- Encourage virtual field trips where possible.
- Outdoor field trips are lower risk compared to indoor field trips.
- Overnight field trips are not currently recommended.
For the full guidance document provided to Toronto school boards, please visit the City of Toronto website.
The TDSB welcomes the opportunity to re-engage students in extracurricular activities and is currently reviewing the new guidance and will be updating its own directions very shortly. In the meantime, please know that our schools’ first priority is ensuring the appropriate health and safety measures are in place so that activities can be done safely. We will be doing everything we can to ensure the reintroduction of these important activities does not lead to further spread of COVID-19 and will, together with TPH, continue to monitor the situation.
As staff at each school will need time to create plans to reintroduce extra-curriculars, the start of these activities will vary from school to school based on staff volunteers. We would ask for your continued patience and understanding as schools gradually get them up and running.
Director of Education