AHEA was notified today of further changes to freedoms that home educating families have under the current guidelines. We continue to work with the Department of Education on your behalf. We are all functioning under the Department of Health's oversight in this matter.
The health orders can be difficult to follow and context is critical. I am pleased to note that the previous definition of 'school' in CMOH Order 42-2020 Sec. 33 (c) (i), which specifically excluded home education, has been amended. Today's CMOH Order 02-2021 Sec. 55 (b) and (c) corrects the misconception that home education and the children are 'social gatherings,' not learning environments and students as well. While AHEA prefers to see home education noted as being a unique educational model in most circumstances, it is being broadly associated with other educational models for clarity here. This is significant because we can now ensure that you are able to read the Orders as they apply to 'schools' as distinct from 'the public' and know that they apply to you. Items covered in our last advisory remain in place (like cohorting for recess) unless specifically changed.
The Key is Cohorting Groups
When we are interacting as a cohort group, like a classroom that exceeds 10 students, we are able to take certain actions that are not permissible for the general public. This means that if you are able to maintain your learning bubble, not intermingling with the public, you can be in the places that are prohibited under Appendix A Sections 1-3 for the purposes of your educational learning/activities. Some discretion will be required of course, but a business that is closed to the public that has space you could utilize may be open to your creative educational use. As long as you are able to maintain your cohorting group and not be mingling with the public, you are allowed to book and use facilities. If you note a school can be in a facility, you may as well.
The Deputy Minister helpfully advised of the changes to public health measures for education relate to indoor and outdoor children's sport and performance activities, and provides additional clarity on their application to home education. You may quote this in your interactions with facilities/businesses or AHS staff as needed:
"School authorities and home education co-ops / supportive group learning environments outside of homes will now have the flexibility to access off-site facilities (public or otherwise) where access is limited to home students and parents from home education co-ops / supportive group learning environments. Activities are split into two distinct categories:
Home education or course-based activities
Physical education or performance/performance arts programs that are taking place in off-site facilities (e.g. curling rinks, skating rinks, community halls, auditoriums, community theatres, museums and galleries) where students remain in their cohort. These activities must follow all health protocols in place since the beginning of the school year.
Non-home education or course-based group physical activities including athletics
Extra-curricular activities where students are mixing with other students who are not part of their regular cohort. Restrictions on these activities are:
- A maximum of 10 individuals, including all coaches, trainers and participants, can participate.
- All participants must maintain physical distancing from each other at all times.
- Participants must be masked at all times, except when engaged in the physical activity.
- Coaches and trainers must remain masked at all times.
- There must be limited access to change rooms, including for accelerated and strictly distanced arrival and departure, for emergencies and for washroom use.
The complete list of approved off-site facilities is provided in sections 1, 2 and 3 of Appendix A of CMOH Order 02-2021 CMOH Order 02-2021 .
Additional information on these changes can be found within the new CMOH Order 02-2021. Metrics based on cases and growth, including COVID-19 variants, are being monitored and will also be used to guide any decisions around the need to pause further steps or potentially increase restrictions.
Please note that the health measures for joint home education co-op activities / supportive group learning environments outside of their homes previously articulated must continue to be adhered to.
The safety of students remains our top priority throughout the school year."
AHEA NOTES: Your continued and vocal efforts to draw attention to any concerns and hardships your families are experiencing are critical. They encourage those we are speaking with to continue evaluating and revising the current policies. Your ability to care for and educate your children is your responsibility as home education parents. AHEA encourages you to do all you can to make decisions for your family to function in the way that you deem best.
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