Students home until at least January 11 under provincial lockdown


Students across Renfrew County will stay home until at least January 11, 2021 under the new provincial lockdown announced Monday by Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

As part of Monday’s announcement, the province said all students in southern and eastern Ontario school boards, including Renfrew County, will move to “teacher-led remote learning” when the holiday break ends on January 4.

The province said that after a week of remote learning, elementary school students are “planned to be able to return to in-person learning” on January 11.

Secondary school students will “continue learning remotely” until January 25.

“While our schools are not a source of rising community transmission, we can play an important part of the solution to save lives from COVID-19,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in Monday’s announcement.

“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.”

Keeping students home from school following the holidays is just one part of the new lockdown, which will kick in across the province at 12:01 am on Saturday, December 26.

Further lockdown measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Restricting indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household (the people you live with). Individuals who live alone may consider having exclusive close contact with one other household.
  • Prohibiting in-person shopping in most retail settings – curbside pickup and delivery can continue. Discount and big box retailers selling groceries will be limited to 25 per cent capacity for in-store shopping. Supermarkets, grocery stores and similar stores that primarily sell food, as well as pharmacies, will continue to operate at 50 per cent capacity for in-store shopping.
  • Restricting indoor access to shopping malls – patrons may only go to a designated indoor pickup area (by appointment only), essential retail stores that are permitted to be open (eg. pharmacy, grocery store), or, subject to physical distancing and face covering requirements, to the food court for takeout purchases. Shopping malls may also establish outdoor designated pickup areas.
  • Prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will be permitted to operate by take out, drive-through, and delivery only.

On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, all Ontarians are advised to stay home as much as possible with trips outside the home limited to necessities such as food, medication, medical appointments, or supporting vulnerable community members.

Employers in all industries should make every effort to allow employees to work from home.

The impact of the lockdown measures will be evaluated throughout the 28 days the lockdown is in effect in southern and eastern Ontario to determine if it is safe to lift any restrictions or if they need to be extended.

The province says the lockdown is necessary to help stop the trend of high COVID-19 transmission in communities, preserve health system capacity, safeguard vulnerable populations and those who care for them, and save lives.

“The number of daily cases continue to rise putting our hospitals and long-term care homes at risk,” said Premier Ford.

“We need to stop the spread of this deadly virus. That’s why, on the advice of Dr. Williams and other health experts, we are taking the difficult but necessary decision to shutdown the province and ask people to stay home. Nothing is more important right now than the health and safety of all Ontarians.”

“This was not an easy decision before the holidays, but we have reached a tipping point,” said Minister of Health and Deputy Premier Christine Elliott.

“We continue to see sharp increases in hospitalizations and occupancy in intensive care units is reaching concerning levels. Urgent action must be taken to prevent our health care system from becoming overwhelmed.

“By implementing a provincewide shutdown, we can work to stop the virus in its tracks, safeguard hospital capacity, and save lives.”

  • For more local coverage, pick up a copy of this week’s NRT. To get the NRT delivered directly to your mail box or inbox each week, subscribe here.