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Here's Ontario's plan to return to in-person learning

Access to rapid tests, tracking absences among the new measures as students return to classrooms Jan. 17
2021-04-15 education PEXELS

After a couple of weeks of virtual learning, students are heading back to classrooms next week. 

Today, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce and chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore announced changes for returning to in-person learning on Monday, Jan. 17.

The new measures revealed today include:

Testing

Two rapid antigen tests will be provided to each student and staff starting next week. 

The roll out will start with staff in childcare and public schools, children in childcare settings, and students at public elementary schools followed by high school students. The initial supply has 3.9 million rapid antigen tests available for schools.

Reporting 

The provincial website tracking COVID cases in schools is no longer being used. 

Instead, schools will be reporting all absences to local health units. When a school meets a threshold of 30-per-0cent absenteeism, a joint letter will be sent to the school community with guidance. If a student is absent, it doesn't necessarily mean it's due to COVID.

Staffing 

Staff absences are expected. 

To boost staffing, retired teachers are allowed to work more days, with the limit temporarily increasing to 95 days instead of 50, and new Ontario teacher candidates can temporarily help stabilize school staffing.

Vaccination 

Health units and schools boards are working to hold school-based vaccination clinics for students ages five to 11. These clinics will be before, during and after school. The organizations are also collaborating to make sure there is parental consent for the children in this age group.

Previously announced measures

  • The daily active screening has been updated.
  • N95 masks for school and childcare staff.
  • Three-ply masks for students.
  • 3,000 more standalone HEPA filter units have sent to school boards.
  • Only low-contact indoor sports and safe extra-curricular activities are allowed.
  • For elementary schools, assemblies will be virtual only.
  • Indoor lunches and breaks will be restricted to classroom cohorts when distancing between the cohorts can't be maintained.

Even though schools are returning in-person, Ontario remains at a modified Step 2 of the Roadmap to Reopen. It means gyms and indoor dining are closed. A full breakdown of what the restrictions are is available here.


Maija Hoggett

About the Author: Maija Hoggett

Maija Hoggett is an experienced journalist who covers Timmins and area
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