Schools within Eastern Ontario and Ottawa health units not re-opening until later

Above, Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce.

ONTARIO — Students will continue to stay home in the furthest eastern reaches of the province, as schools within the Eastern Ontario Health Unit and Ottawa public health jurisdictions must stick with virtual learning for the time being. They are not among the seven Ontario health units where 100,000 elementary and secondary students will go back to their physical classrooms on Monday, Jan. 25, as officially announced by Education Minister Stephen Lecce today.

However, heading westward, schools will reopen Jan. 25 within the neighbouring health units covering Leeds, Grenville and Lanark; Renfrew County and District; Hastings and Prince Edward Counties; and Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington. Also in the free and clear are Schools within the Grey Bruce, and Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge health units.

“To ensure schools remain safe, the government is introducing additional measures including province-wide targeted asymptomatic testing, enhanced screening, mandatory masking for students in Grades 1-3 and outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained,” Lecce said.

Some school boards are overlapped by school-closed and school-open areas. The Upper Canada District School Board and Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario that will have a mix of closed and open schools on Jan. 25.

Child care remains open and available for non-school aged children across the province. Where elementary schools continue to be closed for in-person learning, before and after school programs continue to be closed and prohibited from charging parent fees. Emergency child care will be extended to support those workers that require it during this period, the government says.

To support students facing mental health difficulties, the government announced an additional and immediate $10 million from its phase 2 federal funding allocation to support student mental health and expand access to services in both rural and urban communities. That’s on top of the $32.5 million the province says it has spent on student mental health since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Direct financial support through  Ontario’s Support for Learners program remains open until Feb. 8, the government says.

On Jan. 12, the Ford government announced that elementary and secondary students in Windsor-Essex, Region of Peel, Toronto, York Region and Hamilton Public Health Units (PHUs) will continue to learn remotely.  In addition, northern PHUs that were permitted to return to in-person learning on Jan. 11 will continue as is unless otherwise directed. Schools located in all other PHUs across the province will continue to learn remotely at this time.

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