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Re-opening of Ontario schools is to come Wednesday

According to Education Minister Stephen Lecce, the Ontario provincial government will announce on Wednesday when in-person schooling will reopen, in accordance with the advice of Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams.

"We want all students in all regions back to class," Lecce said.

"The Government will provide certainty parents deserve by announcing on Wednesday the dates for reopening."

Earlier today, Lecce similarly announced how Ontario will expand COVID-19 testing for students and that it will allow school boards to bring in more student teachers (around 2,000) to fill in positions as schools reopen amid the winding-down of the second wave (new daily cases of COVID-19 in Ontario have been in decline since peaking on Jan. 11). This will occur in order to keep class size small; last fall, the province similarly brought on retired teachers and principals as they looked to reduce average class size.

According to officials, targeted testing will also be available in schools where students have returned to class. Ontario is expected to be able to complete up to 25,000 laboratory-processed and 25,000 on-site rapid antigen tests per week. Testing will be voluntary for both students and staff.

Regional health officials have also called on Ontario to begin opening schools before lifting other public health restrictions aimed at reducing high levels of COVID-19.

"Upon careful review and consideration of local indicators, we believe it is possible, and in fact, imperative, that schools begin to open before the reopening of other sectors, as the stay-at-home orders are lifted provincially," wrote Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, chair of the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health. "Safe reopening of all schools in Ontario is essential."

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