School board approved to accept international students

GUELPH – The Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) can once again accept international students.

“We are one of only 11 school districts that were given that right as of today,” said superintendent of education Doug Morrell at the Nov. 24 board meeting.

The approval means the board can provide in-person teaching or instruction for international students this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the road wasn’t easy.

In September, the board had 440 international students but in September 2020, due to COVID-19 restrictions on international travel, only 109 international students returned to instruction at Upper Grand schools – and only 12 new students began with the board.

At the Oct. 27 board meeting, trustees approved the submission of an attestation to the Ministry of Education outlining how the board was ready to accept international students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At that time about 51 students had already expressed interest in coming to the UGDSB in January.

“Superintendent Morrell submitted it all several days ago and got an immediate approval,” director of education Martha Rogers told trustees on Nov. 24.

“So I just want to give him some credit because he’s humble. We didn’t have to make any changes. There were no revisions requested or required.

“We got an automatic approval, thanks to the quality of these COVID-19 plans and we’re on the list.”

The readiness plan indicates that upon arrival to Canada, international students will need to follow the same protocols as any returning Canadian and quarantine for 14 days.

They must have transportation from their point of entry directly to their quarantine location.

While quarantining there will be communication protocols in place with public health, in case of non-compliance, and with the board.

International students will enter the school system at the beginning of the second semester (or third quadmester) in late January so they need to complete their two-week quarantine prior to their first instruction date, Morrell said.

They will also be required to receive a negative COVID-19 test.

The protocols and quadmester system mean international students will have a firm date to begin. They won’t be permitted to jump into the quadmester a week or two late because they will lose too much instructional time, Morrell said.