Elementary and secondary students in Brantford and Brant, Norfolk and Haldimand counties will continue with remote learning until at least the second week of February.
On Feb. 28, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced that about 280,000 elementary and secondary students in four health regions can end remote learning at home and head back to bricks-and-mortar schools on Feb. 1. Allowed to return to class are students in Ottawa, Eastern Ontario, Middlesex-London and Southwestern public health units.
“The government agrees with the growing consensus in the medical community that returning students to in-person learning is essential to the wellbeing, development and mental health of children,” Lecce said in a statement.
Officials say the return date for students with the Grand Erie and Brant Haldimand Norfolk district school boards so far remains unchanged at sometime during the week of Feb. 8 to 12.
Students also will remain learning remotely at home in regions hard hit by COVID, including Toronto, Peel, York, Hamilton and Windsor.
Students in northern Ontario and seven predominately rural regions in the south have already resumed in-person learning.
Last Thursday’s announcement brings the total number of students able to learn in person to 520,000 across the province.
All students began their winter term online as part of a provincial lockdown and the government extended remote learning for many as Ontario continues to fight COVID-19.
The government said Thursday that the province’s top doctor will continue to review public health trends and advise when in-person learning can resume in other public health units.
It also said that local public health units continue to have the authority to close schools based on their own circumstances. Parents can also continue to have their children enrolled in remote learning.
Lecce has said that as part of an effort to get students back in physical classrooms safely, the province will conduct asymptomatic testing at schools, enhance screening and require students from Grades 1 and up to wear masks.
About 1.5 million students are attending class in person this year, while another 500,000 opted to study full-time at home remotely.
– With files from Canadian Press and Postmedia Network