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100,000+ Ontario students return to classrooms today

Toronto: More than 100,000 students return to in-person learning on January 25, on the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and following the introduction of additional and tougher layers of protection.

“Our priority throughout this pandemic has been to keep students and staff safe,” said Stephen Lecce, Ontario Minister of Education, in a statement yesterday to provide an update on the return to in-person learning for schools in seven Public Health Units.

The seven Public Health Units were not elaborated upon. Durham District School Board (DDSB) earlier announced its students will not be returning to in-class teaching today.

“SickKids confirmed that the return to school this past fall was successful at a time when community transmission was low,” said Lecce. “While leading medical experts have stated that schools in Ontario remain safe, with school boards reporting approximately 80% of schools at the end of last year not reporting an active case, and 99.6% of students never having reported a case of Covid-19, we will continue to review our plan and ensure it provides our schools with the latest safety measures and protocols so our students and staff have maximum protection.”

Lecce said in areas of the province where students continue to learn remotely, the families of frontline workers will be able to access emergency child care.

“Our government has also listened to the voices of the special education community by directing school boards to provide in-person learning for those students who cannot learn remotely, ensuring they receive consistent and full supports. We also have strengthened mental health and special education funding for all school boards during the pandemic by $42.5 million, including an additional $10 million to support the needs of children who face adversity during the pandemic.

“I thank all parents, students, child care and education workers for their collaboration and hard work, and continue to encourage Ontarians to follow health and safety guidance so that we can reduce community transmission and get all Ontario schools open and our kids back to class,” the minister added.

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