Sarnia-Lambton, Chatham-Kent schools to remain closed, regions will continue with online learning

·2 min read

Students in Sarnia-Lambton and Chatham-Kent will continue with remote learning next week.

In-person classes, which were expected to resume Monday in both regions, are now being delayed until further notice, according to a news release from Ontario's Education Minister Stephen Lecce. Only seven health unit regions in the province were approved to have their school boards resume in-person learning on Jan. 25.

"I don't think the announcement was a surprise for us. We've been tracking the number of cases," said John Howitt, director of education for the Lambton-Kent District School Board.

As of Wednesday, 10 new cases were reported in Lambton County. There are 202 active cases.

Meanwhile in Chatham-Kent, 11 new cases were reported and 91 remain active.

Howitt said they have already sent out a memo and called families within their community to inform them that students won't be returning to classes next week.

Though he's yet to speak with parents directly, he said he understands that this announcement may be met with mixed reactions.

"There will be relief on one end and frustration on the other, certainly we know that the remote learning period impacts parents ability to go to work potentially or the scheduled work or to work remotely from their home while online learning is going on," he said.

At this time, it's unclear when the boards will be allowed to go back.

Howitt said he's assuming that their local medical officer of health and the provincial one will continue to monitor the state of COVID-19 in the community and use that to determine whether in-person classes will resume by Feb. 10, as is listed for other health units, or earlier.

He added that mental health supports continue to be available for students who may be struggling through remote learning.

In an email to CBC News, St. Clair Catholic District School Board forwarded a letter it had sent out to families.

The board said remote learning will continue beyond Jan. 25, but notes that it is also unsure as to when students will be able to return.

It said it has no further details but will continue to update the community.