Ontario’s education minister said an announcement on schools reopening in COVID-19 hotspots will be revealed in the coming days.
During a press conference on Monday, Stephen Lecce responded to a question on when schools will reopen in hotspots, saying, “It’s important for students to be in schools. We’ll be looking at advice on how we can get all students back, and we’ll provide that in the coming days based on risk assessment and new protocols.”
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said that hopefully students will return to in-class learning on February 10, as originally announced when the Stay at Home order was implemented.
“Once we open we want to stay open,” Williams said.
However, data is still being analyzed to see if schools can reopen by next week, with community transmission being of primary concern.
If the cases are in the range of 100 to 150 out of 100,000 in the region, then Williams said the schools can reopen with “proper checks and balances.”
He added that transmission rates have been declining recently and will continue to do so in the coming days.
But Lecce would not provide an exact day the announcement will be coming on reopening of the schools in hotspots.
Instead, he reiterated that 280,000 students returned in four public health units in the province on February 1. And that the province is providing more asymptomatic testing in addition to antigen testing. There will also be new protocols and requirements for staffing and screening, as well as requiring masking down to Grade 1.
Lecce also announced that there is $381 million more in funding to hire more staff, improve ventilation and provide more PPE .
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Starting on February 1, 280,000 students returned to in-class learning across four public health units, this in addition to seven school boards in Ontario that also resumed in-person learning on January 25.
However, schools in hotspots are still closed and were originally planned to reopen on February 10 when Ontario’s Stay at Home orders were announced.