EDMONTON -- Students are nearing to classrooms across Canada as governments, teachers and parents scramble to prepare for what will be a school year unlike any other. 

CTV News reviewed what each province's plan for safely returning students to school along seven criteria. 

See the summary graphic and scroll down or follow the links below to see more detail on the various plans. Note, return-to-school plans generally allow from some variation by school boards so some policies may not be consistent across an entire province. Plans are also being revised and re-visited as local circumstances demand.


  • WEST: Alberta, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan 
  • CENTRAL: Ontario, Quebec
  • ATLANTIC: New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island 



  • Student population: 741,802
  • Return to school date: Sept. 2 (public) or Sept. 3 (Catholic)
  • Government plan: K to 12 School Re-entry

The province is planning to fully reopen schools from kindergarten to Grade 12 this fall.

New health measures include grouping students in cohorts to limit contact, staggering start times for classes, recesses and lunches, and daily COVID-19 screening questionnaires. Class sizes, however, will not be limited.

Staff and students in Grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear masks in common areas and on school buses. The province will provide two reusable masks for each student, teacher and staff member in the province. Schools will receive hand sanitizer and contactless thermometers. 

Parents won't be forced to send their kids to school if they don’t feel it’s safe, but it would be up to them to work out an at-home learning plan with the school.


Students in B.C. were to return to class on Sept. 8 but the province later delayed that until Sept. 10. 

The plan calls for students to be divided into “learning groups” of 60 students for elementary-aged children and groups of 120 for high school students.

Masks will be mandatory for middle school and high school students in situations where physical distancing is not possible, such as hallways and on buses. Face coverings are not required for elementary school students. 

The provincial government is also spending $45.6 million to help schools prepare for the upcoming school year, which will go towards increased cleaning expenses, hand-washing stations and additional supplies for students and teachers.

More details will be released on cohort groups, scheduling and enrollment procedures on Aug. 26.


Most Manitoba students will return to class five days a week starting on Sept. 8

Masks will be mandatory for students in Grades 4 to 12. Originally, the province decided not to require masks in schools, but it later reversed its decision, with the premier citing "the input of literally thousands and thousands of Manitobans.”

High school students may be required to conduct online classes, depending on each school’s ability to implement the necessary physical distancing regulations.

Each school must ensure students working remotely have access to the necessary technology.


  • Student population: 184,000
  • Return to school date: Sept. 8
  • Government plan: Safe Schools Plan

Saskatchewan students were intially to return to class on Sept. 1 but that date was delayed by a week to give teachers and staff more time to prepare. 

 The province is spending $40 million on supplies necessary for its Safe Schools Plan.

Masks will not be required upon school returning, but the province is purchasing masks to distribute to schools in the event that the province’s chief medical health officer determines them to be necessary.

he province's plan for increased safety in schools includes a new testing strategy for teachers and students who volunteer to participate.



Most elementary school students and high school students will return to classes on Sept. 8.

Elementary students will return to class five days a week for full days, which will include recess and lunch.

Class sizes are generally not be restricted save for 24 school boards in areas determined to be at-risk of another outbreak. Those schools will operate at 50 per cent capacity by limiting classes to 15 students who will alternate days or schedules. 

School boards also have the option of staggering their start date by up to two weeks from the initial Sept. 8 date. 

The Ontario government also announced that school boards will have access to reserve funds in order to reduce elementary class sizes and increase physical distancing.

 Non-medical masks will be mandatory for students from Grade 4 to Grade 12. Grade 3 students will be encouraged to wear a mask in common areas, though it is not required.

Teachers and school staff will be given medical masks.


Most classes in Quebec will resume on Aug. 28,the earliest start date in the country. 

The province's plan divides elementary and high school classes into “bubble groups” of up to six students who will not have to physically distance from each other.

Teachers will move between classrooms based on the subject being taught, and students will remain in the same classroom.

The province's plan stresses in-person attendance, though online learning resources are available if a child or a close contact has a medical condition that puts them at risk of COVID-19.

Children without a medical exemption will have to attend classes or be homeschooled.

Parents will be required to supply masks for their children, but teachers will have masks provided for them.



  • Student population: 97,755
  • Return to school date: Sept. 8
  • Government plan: Return to School

Students between Kindergarten and Grade 8 will return to full-time classes in groups of up to 15. Those groups will attend class, socialize and enter the school together, maintaining distance from other groups.

High school students are required to attend class at least once every two days, with remote learning taking place on the day they are not in class. 

Younger students are encouraged to wear maks, while face coverings are mandatroy for Grades 6 through 12.

High school students will be expected to have their own laptop or similar device, and the province will provide financial support for anyone who doesn't have suitable technology.


The province's back-to-school plan aims to maximize in-class attendance with the option of a return to remote learning if the COVID-19 risk increases.

Individual school districts will determine what scenarios work best for their schools and are responsible for configuring classrooms and other spaces to maintain physical distancing.

Under some scenarios, the Education Department will aim to limit classroom sizes when the COVID-19 risk is considered low to moderate.

Students and staff will also be required to go over a COVID-19 exposure and symptom checklist before entering a school.

Neither students nor staff will be required to wear masks at school, but they are allowed to wear masks if they wish.


Classrooms will also be reorganized to increase spacing, and classes will be treated as a bubble, to minimize contact with other students.

In-school assemblies and other large gatherings will not be permitted. As well, cafeterias and school food programs will deliver food to students, and students will eat lunch at their desks.

High school students will be required to wear a mask in school spaces where social distancing is not possible, such as in hallways and common areas. Masks will not be mandatory in class.

Only students and staff will be permitted to enter school buildings. When possible, teachers will be asked to move their classes outdoors.

Students will be asked to bring their own computers to school, and the province says it has acquired an additional 14,000 devices for those with limited access to technology.


  • Student population: 20,184
  • Return to school date: Sept. 8
  • Government plan: Back to school FAQs

Teachers and staff in P.E.I. will receive training on how to maintain health and safety protocols within classrooms to mitigate infections.

Parents are being encouraged to drive their kids to and from school to reduce the number of passengers on school buses. 

Drop-off and pickup times, as well as lunch breaks and recess will also be staggered to avoid crowding.

When available, class sizes will be reduced in order to accommodate distancing and students will work in cohorts or bubbles.

Students are not required to wear masks to school, but all staff and students in Grades 7 to 12 are “strongly recommended” to wear masks when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

With files from Nicole Bogart and the Canadian Press