The province’s education ministry announced on Wednesday it will stagger the reopening of schools still closed to in-person learning. Simcoe-Muskoka classrooms will be among the next wave to permit face-to-face lessons again as of Monday.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon all but three regions in Ontario can return to the physical classroom on February 8, while hotspot regions Toronto, Peel, and York will be permitted to attend class again as of February 16.
“Following the best medical advice, with the clear support of both Ontario’s and the local Medical Officers of Health, we are reopening schools across the province knowing that we have taken additional steps and made additional investments to better protect our students and staff,” said Minister Lecce. “Nothing is more important than returning kids to school safely because it is crucial for their development, mental health, and future success.”
Minister Lecce said when kids go back to class next week, they will be safer than before. This includes targeted asymptomatic testing for students and staff, mandatory masking for students in Grades 1-3, providing 3.5 million cloth masks to schools as back-up supplies, and enhanced screening for secondary school students and staff.
Dawn Stephens, Superintendent of Education for the Simcoe County District School Board told Barrie 360 she’s been waiting to hear this news. “We are very excited to welcome our students back to in-person learning beginning on Monday. We feel very supported by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and their support in having our students return to school.”
“We will be communicating with their families more via email and on our social media accounts with more details about the enhanced safety measures that will be in place including new masking protocols and self-assessment requirements,” she added. “The Simcoe County District School Board is just very excited to see our students again back face-to-face on Monday.”
Before and after school childcare will also resume the same day as schools are permitted to reopen in all regions.
Elementary and secondary schools covered by the following public health units will return to in-person learning on Monday, February 8:
- Brant County Health Unit
- Chatham-Kent Public Health
- Durham Region Health Department
- Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
- Halton Region Public Health
- City of Hamilton Public Health Services
- Huron Perth Public Health
- Lambton Public Health
- Niagara Region Public Health
- Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit
- Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services
- Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health
- Windsor-Essex County Health Unit