George Bissett Elementary

Back to School Plan

August 28, 2020

Dear Families:

I hope you have had a safe and restful summer. After six months apart, I am so excited to welcome students and staff back to our building! The first day of school for students is Tuesday, September 8, 2020.  

All students are returning to school as outlined in Nova Scotia’s Back to School Plan. To learn more about the plan, visit

I recognize that you may have questions. Rest assured that supporting your child’s return to school is our highest priority. COVID-19 has changed what our school and school day will look like, but it has not changed the quality of education, or the care and support that your child will receive.

There will be many changes to routines in September. Among the changes:

  • All students who ride a school bus will be required to wear a mask.
  • All students in Grades 4 to 6 and all staff will be required to wear a mask when they are unable to physically distance. This includes Grade 3 students in a combined class with Grade 4s.
  • Our school has received enhanced cleaning.
  • Increased handwashing and sanitizing as students enter and exit school and throughout the day.
  • Visitors will be limited, including parents/guardians. Drop offs and pickups will be done outside, and people will not be allowed to congregate in groups outside the school, as per COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for Schools.

Monitoring Your Child’s Health

Students, staff, parents, and the entire school community need to work together to help keep Nova Scotians safe.  George Bissett students will be given explicit instruction on the safety measures in place to keep us all healthy.  Parents/guardians will be provided a self-assessment tool to conduct a COVID-19 assessment each day on their children. Staff will also be expected to use the self-assessment tool daily to self-assess their medical condition. It will take all of us working together while being vigilant with health practices to keep George Bissett Elementary safe, open, and for learning to take place.


  • Please do not arrive before 8:20 as there is NO SUPERVISION for students.
  • Parents /guardians are not permitted to park their car on school grounds.
  • All students travelling to school by bus are required to wear a mask.
  • All students in grade 4 through 6 (3’s in 3/4 class) and all staff will be required to wear a mask when they are unable to physically distance.
  • All families will be notified of what class their child will be in for the 2020-2021 prior to the first day.
  • Arrival time (between 8:20-8:30).
  • Staff will be available to direct students to their classrooms. Picture of class entrances attached.
  • We will have a “Soft Opening” which means students enter the school when then arrive in the morning:

Playground doors: Pre-Primary and Grade Primary

Main doors: Grades 1 and 1/2

Back doors: Grades 3/4 and 4/5

Bottom doors: at the front of school- 5/6

  • We will have teachers outside the school to welcome students and direct them to their door on opening day and each morning. Classroom teachers will meet students in their hallway when they arrive for school each morning.  
  • Students in the 3/4 class, and grades 4 through 6 without masks will be provided one.
  • Students will sanitize their hands upon arrival at school and once they enter their classroom and ensure their mask is on.
  • Students and staff will be washing their hands or using alcohol based sanitizer each time they enter and exit the school and the class, before and after washrooms and before and after eating times.
  • Students arriving late will enter at the main doors. They will need to check in the office before making their way to their classroom. Please notify the office or classroom teacher if your child will be leaving early. Pickup for students leaving early will be through the main doors. Students will be brought out to meet family member picking them up.
  • To reduce the amount of movement and student belongings, we will not worry about the change of shoes for now. Students will hang their bag and coat on their chair for the day.
  • Our initial learning time will always focus on building relationships and creating a safe and welcoming class community.


  • Frequent hand washing and using hand sanitizer are public health measures we can all practice both at home and school. We will be emphasizing the importance of hand hygiene, throughout the day specifically when entering school and classrooms and before and after eating. Hand sanitizing stations have been installed at entrances and in hallways, and there will be hand sanitizer in classrooms.


  • We will also be working with children on the importance that “no sharing is caring” in a pandemic. Our teachers will be using age-appropriate language to educate students on why they are not able to share food, personal belongings or their individual school supplies.

What the School Day Looks Like (School Design)

Students in Pre-Primary to Grade 6 will stay with their class (cohort) throughout the day. For the most part, staff will come to the students to limit interaction.

Non essential furniture will be removed from classrooms and desks/tables will be spaced out as much as possible to allow students to have more physical distance.

Students will notice additional signage including directional signs to control flow in hallways, common areas, and outside spaces. Signage includes traffic flow arrows, physical distancing reminders, and designated Entrances & Exits.

Students will keep all essential items in their classroom (coats, sneakers, backpacks, etc…).

An essential part of the Back to School plan is to maximize time spent outdoors. More classes (including Physical Education) will be held outdoors, when possible, to encourage physical movement and support our students’ well-being.

Breakfast Programs

We know how important a healthy breakfast is to starting the day off right. We are working on a plan to ensure our students continue to have access to our breakfast program while ensuring health guidelines are in place.

Here are some more details around our plan for our breakfast program:

  • Each class will have breakfast bins
  • Items will be grab and go (granola bars, apple sauce, etc…)


Students will be eating lunch in their classrooms. Your child’s lunch should be something they can manage independently to avoid unnecessary handling of items by others. All recycles and garbage from student lunch bags will go back home with students/

Here are some more details around our plans for lunch:

  • Lunch is 60 minutes and will be split into 30 minute blocks. 3 classes will eat inside for the first 30 minutes and then go outside for the next 30 minutes and 3 classes will go outside for the first 30 minutes and return to their class for the last 30 minutes to eat.
  • Outside areas are broken into 3 sections (Zone 1, Zone 2, and Zone 3)
  • Each class will be assigned a Zone.



Recess is going to look different this year in order to limit interactions among cohorts and social gathering. Students will have breaks with their class on a staggered schedule.

Here is what we plan to do:

  • Only 3 classes will go outside at a time
  • School Play areas will be separated into 3 sections
  • Each class will be assigned a Zone for recess

Illness at School

Any student who becomes unwell at school will have a separate location in the school where they will be supervised, while they wait to be picked up.


If a child feels unwell or begins to exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, a parent or guardian will be contacted for pick-up. It is very important to ensure that your contact information and other emergency contacts for your child are kept up to date with the school during the school year.


If your child exhibits COVID symptoms, contact 811 to receive advice from Public Health on what to do next, including if/when the child can return to school.


If a COVID-19 case is identified, Public Health will provide direction to the school and HRCE on communicating with families.


A strong relationship between home and school is important to student well-being and success. Under the Back to School plan, visitors, includes parents/guardians, will not normally be permitted in the school.


As a school, we will look to alternative ways to engage with parents/guardians that do not require you to physically enter the building. Teachers will continue to reach out to you as it relates to your child’s education and well-being.  We encourage you to communicate regularly with the school and your child’s teachers.


The EXCEL Before and After School program is operating. EXCEL will be communicating directly with registered families.

Water Bottles

We recommended students bring a water bottle each day to reduce the sharing of water sources in the school as well as limit interactions among cohorts and social gatherings. Bottle filling stations and/or other sources of safe drinking will still be available. Sending your child with a full water bottle in the morning is greatly appreciated.


Students are able to bring their own device to school for educational purposes. Students who do not have access to a personal device will be provided with one. School-based devices will be cleaned after each use.

Over the course of the next two weeks, leading up to the first day of school, I will be outlining more things of what students and families can expect. These updates will be sent by email and posted on our website at:

Attached is a Handwashing poster. Prior to the start of school, please take time to review proper handwashing steps with you child.

I will be sure to share photos of our new signage, handwashing stations and our classrooms as they are set up. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

I want to assure you that together, we’ve got this. We all have a role to play in helping students feel safe and supported when they return to school. I promise to keep the lines of communication open to make this a positive year. We are all in this together.

I can’t wait see our students!




Jimmy Hurley


George Bissett