Students in Ottawa and eastern Ontario will be returning to class for in-person learning on Monday.
The Ontario government announced all elementary and secondary schools in the Ottawa Public Health and the Eastern Ontario Health Unit regions will reopen on Feb. 1.
“On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, with the support of the local Medical Officers of Health, and with the introduction of additional layers of protection, 280,000 students in four public health regions will return to class on Monday, Feb. 1,” said a statement from Education Minister Stephen Lecce.
“The government agrees with the growing consensus in the medical community that returning students to in-person learning is essential to the wellbeing, development and mental health of children. According to leading medical and scientific experts, including Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, our province’s schools are safe places for learning.”
Students in the following school boards will resume in-person learning on Monday:
Ottawa Carleton District School Board
Ottawa Catholic School Board
Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario
Upper Canada District School Board
Conseil des ecoles catholiques du Centre-Est
Conseil des ecoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario
Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l’Est ontarien
The Ontario government says before and after school child care programs may also resume on Feb. 1. Emergency child care in Ottawa will end on Friday, Jan. 29.
Elementary and secondary schools in Ottawa have been closed since the end of the Christmas break on Jan. 4.
On Monday, schools in seven health units across southern Ontario reopened for in-person learning, including schools in Renfrew County, Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit and the Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Health Unit.
SCHOOLS READY TO OPEN
Medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches says the city is ready for schools to reopen.
Etches and Mayor Jim Watson spoke with Lecce earlier this week to discuss schools and safety in schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I feel confident that we can use the tools in our toolbox to keep COVID out of schools and manage it when it does come into schools, like we did in the fall,” said Dr. Etches during an interview on CTV Morning Live Thursday morning.
“We knew that the screening was very key.”
Dr. Etches is asking parents with a child that has a runny nose or a fever to do the COVID-19 screening, and be tested for the virus.
In a statement on Twitter, Ottawa Public Health admitted it is a good thing and a risky thing that schools are opening in Ottawa.
“Schools are opening because ‘things are great.’ Literally nothing about this is cause to relax,” said OPH on Twitter Thursday afternoon.
“It’s quite the opposite, actually. Simply put: schools are opening because the risks and impacts of keeping schools closed far outweigh those of opening them.”