Ontario schools: Stephen Lecce to make a back-to-school announcement on Wednesday

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce is expected to make an announcement Wednesday regarding back to school for in-person learning.

He will be accompanied to Queen’s Park by the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, at 1:30 pm The press conference will be broadcast live on CTVNewsToronto.ca and on the CTV News app.

The announcement comes two days after the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that students would return to class on January 17 after about two weeks of distance learning.

Students have been learning virtually since January 5 due to an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Ontario.

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

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

The government also said it will provide non-fitting N95 masks to staff and deploy 3,000 additional HEPA filter units to schools.

As in-person learning has been delayed, the government has changed the list of COVID-19 symptoms requiring student isolation and provided new guidance on managing the disease in schools. This includes changing eligibility for free PCR tests to only include public school students who develop symptoms in school.

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

“Given the widespread transmission and the inability to test all symptomatic individuals, schools will not systematically notify pupils / pupils in classes with a positive case, or if a child / pupil or staff is absent due to symptoms associated with COVID-19 ”, Guidance Report.

Teacher unions have expressed concern over elements of the back-to-class guidelines and called for a reduction in class sizes to promote physical distancing as well as an increase in COVID-19 testing and tracing.

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