County students head back to school Monday

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Renfrew County students will be heading back to the classroom Monday morning.

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced late Wednesday afternoon that on the advice from the province’s chief medical officer of health, the government is allowing seven public health units and over 100,000 students to return to class on Monday, January 25.

The seven public health units include Renfrew County and District, Grey-Bruce, the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes region, Hastings and Prince Edward counties, Kingston Frontenac and Lennox-Addington, Leeds Grenville and Lanark, and Peterborough.

“Getting students back into class is our top priority,” Lecce said.

“According to Ontario’s chief medical officer of health and leading medical and scientific experts, including the Hospital for Sick Children, Ontario’s schools are safe places for learning.”

Lecce said that to ensure schools remain safe, the government is introducing additional measures, including province-wide targeted asymptomatic testing, enhanced screening, and mandatory masking for students in Grades 1-3 and outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

As part of the province-wide shutdown announced before Christmas, elementary students were scheduled to return to class on Monday, January 11. Secondary students would stay home until January 25.

However, Premier Doug Ford announced January 7 that the province would keep elementary students home from school for an extra two weeks as part of its efforts to bring down the number of cases of COVID-19.

“With the public health trends where they are across the province, our priority remains keeping students, teachers, school staff, and all Ontarians safe,” Ford said at the time.

Renfrew County and District currently has just eight active cases of COVID-19 across the region.

The Renfrew County District School Board says the province’s decision means all schools in the board, including adult and continuing education, will reopen Monday.

“Remote learning instruction will carry on as normal for those students who previously selected this instruction method.”

Busing will also resume “as per the usual schedule” on Monday morning.

“Thank you for your ongoing patience and understanding as we work to respond to these shifting directives,” the board said.

“We promise to update our parents/guardians, students and staff with information as it becomes available to us.”

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