Ontario’s government announces that schools in Toronto, York and Peel region will remain closed until Feb16. While in person learning for all schools in Toronto, Peel and York region begins Feb.16th, students in Durham and Halton region and those outside GTA will return to school on Feb.8th. This would also apply to the before and after school programs for these regions.
Ontario was the first to shut in person learning for schools in March last year and today its the only province that is ready to reopen the schools. “ Ontario is ready to reopen our schools because it’s safe” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce. He further added that the decision was based on the advice of Dr. David Williams, chief medical officer of health along with the support of local medical officers of health.
The decision for in-class learning was taken keeping in mind the decline in the number of COVI-19 cases and to support child development and their mental health. Lecce said that the government will take measures to ensure that the elementary and secondary schools remain safe after they re-open. “ We know how critical getting back to school is however we will not put your child and your family at risk” said Lecce.
During a news conference, Toronto’s Mayor John Troy favored Ontario’s Government decision to re-open schools. “ I am in full support of the approach taken with respect to schools in Toronto” Troy said.
Dr. Eileen de Villa, medical officer of health said that schools will need enhanced guidelines and the students will be required to mask even outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained. “If a student or staff has even one mild symptom of COVID-19, they cannot attend school” de Vella said.
Toronto recorded another 444 cases of Covid 19 on Wednesday with 80 people in intensive care, 17 died and 352 in hospital. Although the cases are declining, the new variants pose a potential risk to containing the pandemic.