On-line learning extended until January 25

·2 min read

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow in Ontario, the province has announced it will be extending at-home learning for elementary students in Southern Ontario.

The announcement means students will be learning from home until Jan. 25.

According to Premier Doug Ford, with the public health trends where they are across the province, the priority remains to keep students, teachers, school staff, and all Ontarians safe.

“We have to get the numbers down, and today’s measures will help us continue to stop the spread of this deadly virus,” said Ford.

He also announced the province would be continuing to provide financial relief for parents through the Support for Learners program as well as electricity rate relief for all time-of-use customers.

According to the Chief Medical Officer of Health, David Williams, test positivity rates have dramatically increased among children. Provincial figures illustrate the positivity rate among children aged 12-13 was 5.44 percent in late November and early December. However, in January, it spiked to nearly 20 percent.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said he is firmly committed to getting students back into class as soon as possible, adding there is nothing more important.

“However, the best medical and scientific experts have been clear, while schools have been safe places for kids, the sharp rise in community transmission puts that progress and Ontario families at risk,” said Lecce.

According to Dr. David Colby, the Medical Officer of Health in Chatham-Kent, however, extending school closures in the area is not needed, but he will respect the province’s decision to delay in-class learning because of a rise in the spread of COVID-19 across Ontario.

“We have a different situation in Chatham-Kent,” said Colby. “I don’t think we need to unilaterally close schools. Students in school are not driving the COVID-19 epidemic, which is not what we thought at the very beginning.”

According to the Director of Education at the St. Clair Catholic District School, Board Deb Crawford, virtual learning has gone well at her schools.

“According to the teachers’ responses, students, and parents, things are going quite well,” said Crawford.

The Director of Education at the Lambton-Kent District School Board, John Howitt, echoed the same message for his schools.

“Similarly, we have great outcomes with remote learning currently,” said Howitt.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News