Dufferin-Caledon: Elementary and secondary schools within the Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health unit’s area will reopen for in-person learning on February 8th. The decision by the province is based on the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, the unanimous recommendation of the Council of Medical Officers of Health, and with the support of local Medical Officers of Health.
“This is positive news for many families in all our communities in Dufferin,” said Sylvia Jones, MPP Dufferin-Caledon. “I know students are missing their friends and teachers and the one-on-one interaction they receive in the classroom. Caledon schools will be returning to the classroom after Family Day, as recommended by the Region of Peel Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Loh.”
To further promote health and safety for students and staff, Ontario recently made an additional $381 million in funding available for schools. Provided under the federal Safe Return to Class Fund, this funding will be used to improve air quality and ventilation in schools, support online learning, promote student mental health and hire additional staff. In total, the Government of Ontario has provided publicly-schools with $1.6 billion in COVID-19 resources to protect students, school staff and their families from the virus.
“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 Education Minister Stephen Lecce. “Nothing is more important than returning kids to school safely because it is crucial for their development, mental-health, and future success.”
To support the safe return of in-person learning, Ontario has introduced new measures to continue to protect students and staff against COVID-19 in the classroom. These measures include:
• Province-wide access, in consultation with the local PHU, to targeted asymptomatic testing for students and staff;
• Mandatory masking requirement for students in Grades 1-3, and masking requirement for Grades 1-12 outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained;
• Providing 3.5 million high quality cloth masks to schools as back-up supply for Grade 1-12 students;
• Enhanced screening for all students and staff;
• New guidance discouraging students from congregating before and after school; and,
• Temporary certification of eligible teacher candidates who are set to graduate in 2021 to stabilize staffing levels, following high levels of absenteeism.
Public Health Units (PHUs) with elementary and secondary students returning to in-person learning on Tuesday, February 16, 2021 is as follows:
• Peel Public Health
• Toronto Public Health
• York Region Public Health
PHUs continue to reserve the authority to close schools to in-person learning based on local circumstances.
• To date, Ontario has supported:
o the hiring of 3400 teachers (with an additional 890 projected to be hired);
o the hiring of 1400 custodians (with an additional 400 projected to be hired);
o the hiring of over 500 principals, vice-principals and admin staff to support new virtual schools;
o the hiring of over 650 educational assistants, mental health workers and professionals to provide special education and mental health supports; and,
o over 23,000 HEPA filters and 20,000 portable HEPA units, and nearly 3,000 other ventilation devices.
• In recognition of the additional costs facing many families during this period, Ontario is providing support through an expanded Support for Learners program. Since the start of the pandemic, Ontario has allocated nearly $900 million in direct financial support to families. Applications under the Support for Learners program close on February 8, 2021.
• Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has invested more than $42.5 million in student mental health, including an additional $10 million announced on January 20, 2021, to respond to the extension of virtual learning.
• The federal Safe Return to Class Fund is providing funding in two phases. The first installment of $381 million, as announced on August 26, 2020, is being used to support a number of priority provincial initiatives related to the safe reopening of schools. The allocations are proposed by Ontario but require federal approval.
• Ontario Expanding Eligibility for Emergency Child Care During Extended Remote Learning Period
• Safety of Schools Remains Priority Number One for Ontario
• Ontario Declares Second Provincial Emergency to Address COVID-19 Crisis and Save Lives
• Ontario Providing Additional Funding to Enhance Safety and Protection in Schools
• Targeted Testing for School Communities
• Get Support for Learners
• Additional Funds Enhance Ontario’s Robust Back-to-School Plan
• COVID-19 school and child care screening
• Operational Guidance: COVID-19 Management in Schools document.
• Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.