Information for schools following expanded provincial restrictions
January 13, 2021
On Tuesday Jan. 12, 2021, the provincial government announced new restrictions to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario.
As part of that announcement, information was shared that affects Ontario schools, and we would like to provide the details that have been announced so far to all Upper Grand DSB families.
The province announced that temporary online learning would be extended for schools in five regions of the province. The UGDSB was not included in that extension. For school boards not in those five regions, including the UGDSB, the province indicated that Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health would provide an update about the resumption of in-person learning by January 20.
Following the provincial announcement on January 12, the Ministry of Education sent a memo to school boards clarifying that current arrangements to support special education students through in-person learning will continue.
From the Ministry memo: “Schools will continue to be open so that in-person instruction of students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated through remote learning continues throughout this period and to support staff who are unable to work from home.”
Therefore, in the UGDSB, specialized classes for students with developmental disabilities (DD Classes) in elementary and secondary schools will remain open for in-person learning for those students. Transportation will continue for those students.
The province stated that during the period of temporary online learning, child care for non-school aged children will remain open and emergency child care for school-aged children of frontline workers will continue until in-person learning resumes. Before and/or After School Programs will remain closed until in-person learning resumes.
The province announced enhancements to current masking requirements in Ontario schools, making masks mandatory for students in Grades 1-12+, however, in the UGDSB, masks are mandatory for students in Kindergarten-Grade 12+ and that requirement will remain in place.
The Ministry stated that more information would be released with regards to masking requirements for specified outdoor activities where physical distancing is not possible.
Screening and Testing
The Ministry said that more information will be forthcoming with regards to expanded testing in schools, as well as screening protocols in schools.
Expanded access to COVID-19 testing will be voluntary and schools will be identified for testing by local public health units, working with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, and Ontario Health.