Here's What You Need To Know When Ontario Schools Return To In-Person Learning Next Week

Rapid tests and more teachers will come into play.

Toronto Staff Writer
Here's What You Need To Know When Ontario Schools Return To In-Person Learning Next Week

Children are finally going back to school after an extra-long holiday break at home, and the Ontario government has measures and programs to support the transition.

After previously pushing the return to in-person school twice due to COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, children will be returning to schools and daycare settings on January 17, according to an Ontario government handout.

The move to return to in-person learning "will support students with their mental health and on-going learning and development."

Children returned to remote online learning on January 5 following their holiday break, and things were expected to stay that way for two weeks. Come Monday, there are going to be some changes according to the Ontario government.

Rapid tests

Starting on the week of the 17, students and teachers will receive two rapid antigen tests each, and students will be given instructions on how to tell if they are symptomatic.

Tests will be provided to staff in schools and child care settings first, followed by children in child care, public elementary school students and finally public high school students.

If a student or staff member in a public school or child care facility is absent it must be reported to "local PHUs to support
communication" and "include reminders on infection prevention and control measures."

Absentee program

To help expand capacity and anticipated staffing issues with teachers on January 10, the Ontario government temporarily expanded the "50‐day re‐employment rule to 95 days," allowing retired teachers and educators to work for longer periods.

First and second-year teacher candidates will also be able to help out in schools to reduce staffing issues thanks to expanded Temporary Certificates.

According to the Ontario government, to avoid school closures, measures such as planned remote learning days, combining classes, and swapping classrooms for students may be used as alternatives.

Ventilation

Along with previously announced safety measures for schools, the Ontario government has invested "$600 million in funding to improve ventilation and filtration in schools."

As a result, the government says that all schools have had their ventilation systems assessed, and 99% of schools have improved their filters, are running their ventilation systems longer, and have increased their fresh air intake.

In addition, they have added tens of thousands of standalone HEPA units to areas with no or poor ventilation, with thousands more units on their way.

Vaccination programs

To help vaccinate the 5 to 11-year-old population, "public health units and school boards are working together to put in place school‐based vaccination clinics."

So students and staff alike will have better access to COVID-19 vaccines, which are "the province's best defence against the highly transmissible Omicron variant."

These school-based clinics would run before, during and after school and "public health units and school boards are also collaborating to ensure parental consent" is given if a student wishes to be vaccinated.

Health Canada has a robust website with all the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines and can answer any questions you may have.

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