The Government of Ontario announced it is expanding its Support For Learners program to provide additional funding, offering a one-time payment for more students.
At a press conference on Tuesday, officials said that students from the age of 13 up to those in Grade 12 will now be eligible to receive $200 payments under the expanded program. Previously, only children under the age of 12, and children and youth under the age of 21 who had special needs, were eligible.
The province said this additional funding will provide support for families impacted by these recent restrictions.
Applications for parents or guardians of secondary school students will be open from January 11 until February 8, 2021. The applications for the previously announced groups will be extended to February 8, 2021.
The support will be available to both public and private school students, as well as those who are homeschooled.
“While Ontario schools remain safe, we won’t take any chances following the holidays — we will pivot to teacher-led online learning to help protect against the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce in a release.
“We are providing direct financial support to parents of elementary and now high school children to help them get through this pandemic.”
On December 26, Ontario will enter a province-wide shutdown to stop the spread of COVID-19.
As part of the new restrictions, elementary school students will be studying virtually until January 11, 2021, as will secondary school students in northern Ontario. Secondary students in southern Ontario will be learning online until January 25.
“While transmission in schools remains low, these approaches will help further limit community spread of COVID-19,” the government said.
Ontario schools reported 7,292 COVID-19 cases between September 5 and December 22.
To date, the province has seen 160,255 virus cases and 4,188 deaths.