COVID-19 Update for February 3 – 5:00PM
Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce announced that students in Toronto, Peel and York Region will be returning to physical schools on February 16, while students in 13 other regions will be returning to in-person education on February 8.
School Reopening Plan
Lecce revealed the province’s plan to return to in-class learning this afternoon after the announcement had been teased earlier in the week.
Alongside the reopening dates, he outlined “new and tougher” measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools. These include province-wide access to targeted, voluntary, asymptomatic testing for students and staff; mandatory masking for students in grade 1 and older, even when outside; and access to higher-quality 3-ply masks for younger students.
Lecce underscored that the return to in-person learning was supported by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams (who joined him at the media briefing), and a number of “leading medical and scientific experts” which include the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
He added that while local public health units retain the authority to close schools to in-person learning if they deem it necessary, the province will continue to monitor the situation and will respond based on the advice of Dr. Williams, “if trends move in the wrong direction.”