Schools to stay closed an extra two weeks

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Elementary students in Renfrew County will remain home until at least January 25 after the province announced today that the period of “online teacher-led learning” will be extended by two weeks.

As part of the province-wide shutdown announced before Christmas, elementary students were scheduled to return to class next Monday, January 11.

Secondary students would stay home until January 25.

Premier Doug Ford said Thursday 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,” said Premier Ford.

“That’s why we’re extending the remote learning period for students in Southern Ontario… We have to get the numbers down and today’s measures will help us continue to stop the spread of this deadly virus.”

Ontario currently has an average of more than 3,100 new cases of COVID per day. On Thursday, the province reported 89 deaths.

“Returning students to school now with community transmission and positivity rates so high risks losing the hard-fought progress made in keeping schools and students safe,” the province said in the announcement.

“I have and remain firmly committed to getting students back into class as soon as possible – there is nothing more important.

“However, the best medical and scientific experts have been clear: while schools have been safe places for kids, the sharp rise in community transmission puts that progress and Ontario families at risk,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education.

“During this time, students will remain engaged in live teacher-led online learning with access to enhanced mental health and technology supports.”

The province said Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, will continue to consult with experts, review data, and provide advice to government on the “appropriate and effective measures that are needed to protect the health of Ontarians.”

“This will include an assessment of how and when it is safe to exit the province-wide shutdown and move public health unit regions back into the COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open, including how a revised approach for the safe reopening of retail may be operationalized.”

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is crucial that all Ontarians continue to follow all public health and workplace safety measures,” said Dr. Williams.

“To help stop the spread of COVID-19 and safeguard health system capacity, Ontarians are strongly urged to stay at home, limit trips outside of their households for essential reasons only and must not gather with individuals outside of the people they live with.”

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