Jan 11, 2022
By Jane Brown
Children in Ontario will return to in-person learning this coming Monday January 17th after engaging in virtual learning since last Wednesday after the holiday break.
Confirmation of the news comes from the premier’s office.
It was announced last week by the governing PCs at Queen’s Park that kids would learn remotely until at least the 17th due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the province.
What we haven’t been told is why it is now appropriate to reopen the elementary and high schools in 6 days.
Karen Littlewood is president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation. She calls this is a sudden announcement.
“I thought the government said they were going to re-evaluate at the end of the two weeks. I’m not sure what they’re re-evaluating because, unless I missed something today (Monday), the ICU numbers are up and not coming down. So again, what are the metrics the government are using in order to make this type of decision?” Littlewood asks.
Littlewood says teachers want to be in classrooms with students, but more importantly, she says, the schools need to be safe and the government has yet to say whether this is the case.
The Ford PCs originally pushed the return to school date from January 3rd to the 5th saying an extra two days would give them time to provide N95 masks to staff and deploy 3000 more HEPA filter units.
Hospitalizations related to Omicron have dramatically increased in recent weeks.
As of Monday, there were nearly 2500 patients with COVID-19 in hospitals, with 438 being treated in intensive care. Capacity for Ontario ICUs is said to be about one-thousand.