Students to return to class Monday

File photo courtesy of © zurijeta

Elementary and secondary students across Ontario will return to their classrooms this Monday, as scheduled.

According to a report in the Toronto Star, officials in Premier Doug Ford’s office confirmed that students will return to in-person learning on January 17. When announcing the move to remote learning earlier this month, the government said a return to class on that date was the goal.

The government said the two-week switch to remote learning would help slow the spread of the Omicron variant. It also said it would use that time to make sure schools had enough N95 masks for teachers and staff, and distribute HEPA filters for classrooms.

The Star report notes that sources have said Ontario Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kieran Moore has signed off on the return to class.

According to provincial statistics, roughly nine in 10 Ontarians aged 12-18 have been vaccinated. However, fewer than 50 per cent of kids aged 5-11 have had even a single dose.

The news of the resumption of in-class learning came on a day that saw Ontario report 9,760 new cases of COVID-19. That is down from 11,959 on Sunday and 13,362 on Sunday. Single-day case counts are considered to be an underestimation of community spread as the Ford government restricted eligibility for publicly-funded COVID-19 tests at the end of December. Currently, PCR testing is only available for high-risk individuals who are symptomatic or are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

The latest cases put Ontario’s total case count since the start of the pandemic to 888,297.

There were 12 more COVID-19 related deaths reported in Ontario on Monday to bring the death toll up to 10,378.

At hospitals in Ontario, there are 2,467 patients with COVID-19, up by 48 since Sunday. The total number of patients in the intensive care unit is 438, up from 248 a week ago. Those figures could also be higher than reported as not all hospitals release current numbers over the weekend.