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Decision on in-class learning expected by January 20

January 15, 2021   ·   0 Comments

Ontario parents living outside of COVID-19 hotspots, including Simcoe County, could have to wait until January 20 to find out when students will be allowed to return to in-person classes.

This further delay was announced by the Province on Tuesday afternoon as a further State of Emergency was declared.

According to the Ontario Government, the Chief Medical Officer of Health will advise the Ministry of Education on which public health units will be permitted to resume in-person instruction based on the most up-to-date data and modelling.

Schools in northern Ontario will continue to remain open.

Prior to the Government’s announcement on January 12, online learning was expected to continue for elementary school students through January 25.

This initial change of plan, which deviated from the Province’s initial goal to have some students return to the classroom at the start of this week, came as new cases of COVID-19 continue to rise at an “alarming rate” across Ontario.

The move, said the Ontario Government, was made in consultation with the Province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, “along with other health experts.

“With the public health trends where they are across the Province, our priority remains keeping students, teachers, school staff and all Ontarians safe,” said Premier Doug Ford in a statement at the time. “That’s why we’re extending the remote learning period for students in Southern Ontario and the shutdown period for Northern Ontario, while continuing to provide financial relief for parents through the Support for Learners program as well as the electricity rate relief for all time-of-use customers. We have to get the numbers down and today’s measures will help us continue to stop the spread of this deadly virus.”

The Province contended that targeted testing done among students and staff last month “confirmed that schools are not a significant source of transmission [but] with students having been at home for several weeks and with reports of concerning behaviour over the holidays, the positivity rate among school-aged children has increased sharply.”

Most troubling, the positivity rate for kids aged 12 – 13 years old increased from 5.44 per cent in late November, early December to nearly 20 per cent in early January.

“I have and remain firmly committed to getting students back into class as soon as possible – there is nothing more important,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce on January 7. “However, the best medical and scientific experts have been clear: while schools have been safe places for kids, the sharp rise in community transmission puts that progress and Ontario families at risk. During this time, students will remain engaged in live teacher-led online learning with access to enhanced mental health and technology supports.”

But the situation shifted significantly in less than a week.

“As I have said from the beginning, when it comes to our children, I will not take any unnecessary risks,” said Premier Ford on Tuesday.

By Brock Weir



         


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