Gyms reopening at Ottawa’s public schools for physical education classes during COVID-19 pandemic

Gyms reopening at Ottawa's public schools for physical education classes during COVID-19 pandemic

With the weather turning colder, some Ottawa public schools are moving physical education classes back indoors.

The Ottawa Carleton District School Board is allowing elementary and secondary schools to use the gyms for classes if students and staff follow specific guidelines, including mandatory face masks, no sharing pieces of equipment and change rooms must remain closed.

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, the board says physical education should continue to take place outdoors “wherever possible and weather permitting.”

However, the board says gymnasiums may be used for physical education classes if the following guidelines are followed:

  • Change rooms continue to be closed to students. Students should come dressed for activity on the days they have physical education.
  • Students (Grades 4 to 12) and staff must wear a mask at all times when in the gym. 
  • Hand hygiene practices (washing hands, sanitizer) will occur prior to students and staff entering the gym and again when they leave the gym. 
  • Where possible, designating one door for entry into the space and one door for exiting out of the space is recommended.
  • Where schools have a double gym, the curtain divider or movable wall must be used to separate the cohorts. 
  • Equipment must be appropriately sanitized, stored and put away when each cohort leaves the space.
  • High touch areas (i.e. lights, door handles, benches) should be disinfected between cohorts. 
  • In elementary, the level of activity must be reduced when engaging in physical activity indoors. Students should not be involved in vigorous activity such as sport specific play (i.e. basketball scrimmages) that would cause students to come into close contact.
  • In secondary schools, some of the sports students are playing may bring them into very brief contact but not for prolonged periods of time. The focus is on individual skill development where a student has a piece of equipment to themselves for an entire week at a time
  • Activities taking place in the gym must avoid sitting on the floor and touching walls. 
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The Ottawa Carleton District School Board says the guidelines were developed with input from Ottawa Public Health.

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