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Province: New COVID-19 protection measures for schools when students return after March Break

Vaccinations being offered to education workers in hot spots throughout April
St. Vincent School COVID 3
Students at Thunder Bay's St. Vincent School wear masks in the classroom to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19. (submitted photo)

With schools across most of Ontario staying open for in-person learning during the four-week stay-at-home order, the Ontario Government is pushing newer and updated measures to protect schools against COVID-19.

The Ministry of Education said this will include refresher training, enhanced cleaning and asymptomatic testing.

Also, as these new measures are being introduced, the government will begin offering registration for vaccinations to education workers during the spring break.

"Nothing is more important than keeping Ontario's schools safe and open for students, staff and their families," said Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

"That's why we are introducing additional health and safety measures to protect against COVID-19 while working hard to get our education workers vaccinated. Our students deserve a safe return to their classrooms on April 19 so that they can keep learning, and we are committed to delivering on that."

Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, has confirmed that schools will be kept as safe as possible with appropriate health and safety measures in place. Williams said this would include the following measures:

  • On-site confirmation of self-screening;
  • Refresher training upon return from April break;
  • Outdoor instruction when possible;
  • Enhanced cleaning during the April break;
  • Curriculum-linked activities for students;
  • Letter to parents promoting best practices for a safe April break; and
  • Asymptomatic testing expansion.

In addition to this, education workers who provide direct support to students with special education needs across the province, and all education workers in select hot spot areas, will be eligible to register for vaccination beginning next week. 

Vaccinations will commence during the April break starting with priority neighborhoods in Toronto and Peel, then rolling out to priority neighborhoods in other hot spot regions, including York, Ottawa, Hamilton, Halton and Durham. This will be followed by a rollout across the province as supply allows, said a news release from the education ministry. 

In-person learning remains closed at all Sudbury schools, as it has been since March 11, and will remain so until Public Health Sudbury & Districts allows them to reopen.