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Ontario’s Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, has announced that all children in the province will return to in-class learning by Feb. 16.
Student in Toronto, York and Peel regions will go back to school on Feb. 16.
The remaining 13 public health units that haven’t already resumed in-person learning will return on Feb. 8.
Brant County Health Unit
Chatham-Kent Public Health
Durham Region Health Department
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Halton Region Public Health
City of Hamilton Public Health Services
Huron Perth Public Health
Lambton Public Health
Niagara Region Public Health
Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit
Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health
Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
“Safety is what has and what will drive our decision every step of the way,” Lecce said. “We will not put your child and your family at risk.”
“If things change, if trends move int he wrong direction we will not hesitate to act, following the advice of the chief medical officer of health.”
This comes after the provincial government announced new measures to prevent COVID-19 spread in schools, including asymptomatic testing for student and staff, mandatory masking for students in Grade 1 to Grade 3 and outdoor masking required for all grades when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
Additionally, the province created a temporary certification for eligible teacher candidates expected to graduate in 2021 to increase staffing in schools.
While many were eagerly anticipating this announcement from the provincial government, some have taken to social media with more questions and concern around the timing of the resumption on in-person learning across Ontario.
TWO QUESTIONS FOR @Sflecce:
1. The numbers in Chatham are 40% higher than they were last week. Why can they open now?
2. The numbers in Brant and Durham are practically identical to last week. Why can they open now, but not last week? https://t.co/36rDzG8onm pic.twitter.com/ivgJXAaDDU
— Ryan Imgrund (@imgrund) February 3, 2021
Dr. David Williams, Ontario chief medical officer of health, stressed that the province has seen COVID-19 cases drop to 1,172 new cases on Wednesday, with less than 200 cases reported in Peel and less than 500 new cases reported in Toronto, which hasn’t been the case since earlier in December.
He added that people in the province has to “watch very carefully” to ensure COVID-19 does not spread in schools, while Dr. Williams also said evidence from 2020 shows that there was not a lot of in-school transmission.