Southwestern Ontario schools to resume in-person learning starting Monday
LONDON, ONT. -- The province is reopening most schools starting Monday, including those across Southwestern Ontario.
This includes Lambton County, Huron-Perth, Haldimand-Norfolk, Brant County, Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent.
Elementary students in Middlesex-London and Elgin and Oxford counties returned to school this past Monday, with high school students returning on Feb. 4.
Also going back Monday are boards in Durham, Halton, City of Hamilton, Niagara, Simcoe-Muskoka, Waterloo and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph.
Meanwhile those in Toronto, Peel Region and York Region will resume in-person learning on Feb. 16.
The government previously said that all students currently learning online would be able to return to classrooms by Feb. 10.
Education Minster Stephen Lecce said the province made its reopening decisions based on advice from local medical officers of health and Ontario's top doctor.
"We have seen a consistent decline in key transmission rates and with the full support of the chief medical officer of health...Ontario is ready to reopen our schools because it's safe," he said.
Lecce said the province will continue to monitor COVID-19 trends and take further action if necessary.
"If things change in the wrong direction, we will not hesitate to follow the advice of the chief medical officer of health," he said.
All students in Ontario began January with online learning as part of a provincial lockdown.
The province then took a staggered approach to reopening schools, allowing those in northern Ontario and rural areas to resume in-person learning first.
The province said Wednesday that individual public health units continue to reserve the authority to close schools to in-person learning based on local circumstances.
Lecce said the province has added a number of safety measures and allocated $341 in federal funding to enhance safety in schools for students, teachers and other education workers.
The federal funds will be given to school boards for a variety of measures including to hire more cleaning staff, buy personal protective equipment, and enhance air filtration in schools.
The province will also conduct asymptomatic school testing across the province, with capacity to complete 25,000 lab tests, and 25,000 antigen rapid tests per week.
The province has not said how long it will take to reach those numbers.
- With files from the Canadian Press