Students in southern Ontario will not return to the classroom on Monday for in-person learning amid a surge in COVID-19 cases across the province.
Elementary schools in the southern part of the province (south of Sudbury) will remain closed until Jan. 25, which is two weeks later than the original reopening date.
In-person learning will still resume in northern Ontario for elementary students on Jan. 11. Secondary students are still slated to return to class for in-person learning on Jan. 25.
The province also announced that the lockdown in northern Ontario will be extended until Jan. 25, which aligns with the end of the lockdown for the rest of the province.
The Ford government made the announcement by press release on Thursday.
“With the public health trends where they are across the province, our priority remains keeping students, teachers, school staff, and all Ontarians safe,” Premier Doug Ford said in a written statement. “That’s why we’re extending the remote learning period for students in southern Ontario and the shutdown period for northern Ontario.”
“We have to get the numbers down and today’s measures will help us continue to stop the spread of this deadly virus.”
Ford said he received new data Wednesday night that indicates COVID-19 positivity rates amongst children have been increasing at alarming rates. He blamed the increased positivity rates in children as the result of people getting together over the holidays.
Schools have been safe.
Yet rising community transmission & a spike in youth COVID cases over the holidays put that all at risk.
On the recommendation of Dr. Williams, schools in southern ON will remain online until Jan 25.
We’re working to get our kids back into class safely.
— Stephen Lecce (@Sflecce) January 7, 2021
The data showed that during the week of Nov. 29, the positivity rate among children between the ages of four and 11 was 5.22 per cent, after 580 children tested positive for COVID-19. By the week of Dec. 27, the province recorded a 116 per cent increase in the positivity rate among the same age group, jumping up to 15.66 per cent, with 720 positive cases.
Similarly, during the week of Nov. 29, 187 children aged 12 to 13 tested positive for COVID-19 in the province, putting the group’s positivity rate also at 5.44 per cent. By the week of Dec. 27, there was a 98 per cent increase in the positivity rate among that age group, up to 19.78 per cent after 284 children tested positive.