For students planning to start their High School programme in September 2020, these are some of the frequently asked questions regarding school and daily life in the programme.
Arrival in Canada
Will I be able to arrive in Canada for my programme starting in September?
Currently the Canadian border remains closed and it is only possible for international students with study permits issued on or before March 18 to enter the country. We expect, however, that the government will announce details about the reopening of our borders in the coming weeks. At that time, they will provide further guidance on entry requirements for international students, and we will update this FAQ as the information becomes available.
Will I need to self-isolate when I arrive?
All travelers entering Canada are currently required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. We anticipate this rule will still be in place as of September which is why we are planning a 14-day safe-arrival Orientation Programme for our incoming students. The Orientation Programme is designed specifically to meet the government’s self-isolation requirements and has been developed in consultation with local Public Health Authorities. Please see our Orientaiton Programme FAQ for more details.
Will I need to bring a laptop/tablet/smartphone with me?
Yes. During the Orientation Programme, students will be engaged in online learning and activities and will therefore require a device to connect to the internet. Likewise, we anticipate that school boards will also require an internet-enabled device as it’s likely that some portion of their fall studies will be conducted online. We recommend a full laptop computer rather than relying on a tablet or smartphone for this work. Our experience over the past months demonstrated that students with a full laptop found it much easier to do the work required of them.
When will I go to my Host Family’s home?
Following the 14-day Orientation Programme, and provided that you are declared to be in good health, you will be transferred to your host family home. Once in the home, you will no longer need to self-isolate, although each host family may have increased hygiene protocols that you will be expected to follow. Please see our Homestay FAQ for more details.
What will schools look like in September?
We know everyone wants certainty about what schools will look like in September but it is just not possible to provide at this time. All provinces have indicated there will be some form of in-class learning, however, we will not have 100% clarity on the topic until early August as school districts have been given until then to adapt provincial guidelines to their local situations. The most likely scenario, however, is a hybrid model where students spend some days each week in school and some days at home engaged in online learning. Regardless of the final plan, students coming to Canada for high school in September should expect a “new normal” with revised schedules, routines and protocols. This could include sudden temporary school closures with a shift to online learning if the community where the student is living sees a flare-up of the virus.
We therefore encourage all students to think carefully about the coming experience – for some, this uncertainty might be scary; for others maybe it’s even exciting. For those who continue to push forward, rest assured we are committed, as always, to helping you make the experience the best it can possibly be and will be with you every step of the way to support you.
Will I still be able to participate in sports or clubs at school in September?
We have not yet received a clear outline of what will or will not be permitted in schools, but you should anticipate that sports that typically start in the fall may not be permitted, especially if they are close-contact sports. Some individual sports that don’t require close contact may be offered. Please check your individual school’s website for updates.
Clubs are also not guaranteed to operate at the start of the school year to limit personal interaction between groups of students. Some clubs may initially start online, with the goal of moving to in-person meetings as the school year progresses.
All decisions to operate clubs or sports are up to the individual school in dialog with their local school district and Public Health Authority.
Will school buses operate?
For students who are eligible for school bussing, yes, it is anticipated that buses will operate to and from school. Face masks will likely be required, and physical distancing on the bus may also be implemented. Students who are not feeling well or are exhibiting flu-like symptoms may not be permitted on the bus and will be required to remain at home until cleared for school and bus-riding by the local Public Health Authority.
Students who take public transportation to and from school will need to follow similar protocols. Wearing a mask on public transit is currently highly recommended and, in some locations, required by law.
Will life be back to normal in Canada when I arrive in September?
The situation varies across the country, however, at this time, all provinces have begun reopening their economies according to multi-phase plans that will continue into the autumn. Various measures are likely to continue to affect daily life though – for example, limits on the number of people that can gather together, physical distancing rules, widespread use of face masks etc. In many ways, these things have become part of a “new normal” around the world and some are expected to remain in place until a vaccine is available.
Will I be able to get my hair cut, go to a store to buy clothes, or join a fitness gym?
At this time, most personal services have reopened across Canada, including hair salons and retail stores. Restaurants and coffee shops in most cities are currently open for takeout or outdoor dining. Fitness facilities, community and recreation halls, and certain types of activities deemed “high risk” (e.g. large concerts, festivals etc.), however, continue to be largely unavailable. These activities are likely to be restored only in the final phases of the reopening plans some time in the autumn.
In general, smaller, less-dense communities have been able to reopen their economies more quickly and completely than large, densely populated cities. The situation therefore varies from city to city.
Where can I stay updated about ongoing restrictions on daily life in Canada?
We encourage you to consult these provincial government websites that talk about current measures affecting daily life in their province: