On Monday afternoon, Premier Doug Ford confirmed that all Ontario schools are requiring students to stay home for an extended period of time in 2021.
Ford told reporters that his government still believes Ontario's schools are not part of the COVID-19 problem in the province, but that they're closing them out of an "abundance of caution."
The earliest date that Ontario students can return to school
In a press conference announcing a new, full lockdown in Ontario, Ford confirmed that in-person learning would be stopped at all schools until at least January 11 as part of their efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.
All students will move to teacher-led remote learning in the meantime.
In most of Ontario, students from kindergarten to grade 8 can return to in-person learning on January 11.
But secondary school students in those areas will have to wait until January 25 to go back to school.*
There are seven public health unit regions in which all students, including those in secondary school, can return to school on January 11. Those regions are Algoma Health, North Bay Parry Sound, Northwestern, Porcupine, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, and Timiskaming Health Units.
In a press release announcing the change, the government confirmed that before- and after-school care programs will be closed between January 4 and January 8.* Emergency child care for frontline and health care workers will be provided.*
But the government clarified that child care centres, authorized recreational and skill-building programs, and home-based child care services will stay open from January 8 to January 25.
"During this period, students will pivot to teacher-led online learning, with child care provided for our frontline workers," said Education Minister Lecce in the release.
"We are taking proactive and preventative action to protect schools following the holiday break to ensure kids can continue in-class learning — something we believe is so important — for the remainder of the year."
Editor's note: This article has been updated.