Ontario education minister to make announcement on return to classroom

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Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce is expected to make an announcement on Wednesday about the return to school for in-person learning.

He will be joined at Queen’s Park by the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore at 1:30 p.m. The news conference will be streamed live at and on the CTV News app.

The announcement comes two days after the premier’s office confirmed that students would be returning to the classroom on Jan. 17 after about two weeks of remote learning.

Students have been learning virtually since Jan. 5 due to a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Ontario.


At the time, Premier Doug Ford said the two week delay would “provide much-needed time for more vaccines and boosters.”

A number of COVID-19 vaccine clinics in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area offered appointments specifically for education and child-care workers this week.

The government has also said it would be providing non-fitted N95 masks to staff and will be deploying an additional 3,000 HEPA filter units to schools.

Since in-person learning was delayed, the government has changed the list of COVID-19 symptoms requiring student isolation and provided new guidance on dealing with the disease in school settings. This includes changing eligibility to free PCR testing to include only public school students who develop symptoms at school.

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Parents will also no longer be notified if there is a positive COVID-19 case in their child’s classroom.

“Given the widespread transmission and inability to test all symptomatic individuals, schools will not be routinely notifying students/pupils in classes with a positive case, or if a child/student or staff is absent due to symptoms associated with COVID-19,” the guidance states.

Teachers’ unions expressed their concern regarding elements of the return to class guidelines and called for reduced class sizes to promote physical distancing along with an increase in COVID-19 testing and tracing.

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