Elementary and Secondary Schools Return to In-Person Learning

Published on February 03, 2021

In consultation with the local Medical Officer of Health, elementary and secondary schools in Peel Public Health/Toronto Public Health will return to in-person learning on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021.

We respect the local Medical Officers of Health’s views and knowledge of their local priorities and will take their lead on reopening schools in our PHU.

Our focus remains on protecting our students and staff, which is why we have introduced tougher measures and new investments to keep schools safe and keep kids learning, when it is safe to do so.

Nothing is more important than returning kids to school safely because it is crucial for their development, mental-health, and future success.

To support the safe return of in-person learning province-wide, the government has introduced new and tougher measures to continue to protect kids and staff against COVID-19 in the classroom, including:

  • Provincewide access, as requested by the local PHU, to targeted asymptomatic testing for students and staff;
  • Higher quality masks and mandatory requirement masking for students in Grades 1-3, including outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained;
  • Enhanced screening of secondary students and staff;
  • New guidance discouraging students from congregating before and after school; and
  • The temporary certification of eligible teacher candidates who are set to graduate in 2021 to stabilize staffing levels, following high levels of absenteeism.

Further, the Ministry of Education, in conjunction with CMOH, has confirmed that all PHUs will reopen with access to antigen testing to complement the existing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) lab testing capacity that was scaled up and made available to all PHUs in January. PHUs can use these tests if they so choose.

The government is allocating an additional $381 million that prioritizes safe and quality learning in schools, including the hiring of additional staff, improving air quality and ventilation in schools, supporting online learning, and promoting student mental health. 

With this additional funding, schools are being provided with more than $1.6 billion in critical supports to protect against the spread of COVID-19, all of which has ensured Ontario leads the way with the most comprehensive plan.

Minister Lecce and the government have been consistent in our support for the reopening of all schools.

We will continue to follow expert medical advice, monitoring local trends and data, and stand by ready to act – we will never hesitate from taking action to protect the health and safety of Ontario’s students and education staff.