Northern Ontario students return to school amid extended lockdown
(CTV News Photo Josh Crabb)
SUDBURY -- Update:
The Ontario government declared a second state of emergency on Jan. 12 and province-wide stay-at-home orders went into effect on Jan. 14. Read more about that here.
Students in northeastern Ontario are set to return to in-person learning Monday amid the extended lockdown, while their southern counterparts remain home until Jan. 25.
However, on Friday, Algoma Public Health announced that all high schools located in Sault Ste. Marie will delay the return of in-person classes until at least Jan. 25.
Health officials with Northwestern Health Unit have extended remote learning for students in Fort Frances, Ont. Find the list of schools affected here.
The number of positive COVID-19 cases in the Algoma District has doubled since New Year's Eve.
As of Sunday night, northeastern Ontario has 187 active cases of the disease:
- Algoma District has 57, including one non-resident
- Cochrane District has 31, including two residents currently out of the region
- Nipissing-Parry Sound Districts has 23
- Sudbury-Manitoulin has 66
- Timiskaming District has 10
The province-wide shutdown that went into effect on Boxing Day to curb the spread of COVID-19 continues until Jan. 23.
What started out as a two-week lockdown for residents in northern Ontario, was extended an additional two weeks after a sharp rise in the number of new infections confirmed in the region.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford cited the lack of access to reliable internet as the reason for the return to class for northern students.
"The measures are being taken to help ensure all Ontarians stay at home as much as possible to minimize transmission of the virus and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed, while at the same time being responsive to the fact that northern Ontario students are not able to learn at home as effectively due to limited access to reliable Internet service," the province said in a news release.
Parents of secondary school students aged 13 to Grade 12 are now eligible to receive a one-time payment of $200 per child to help offset education costs during the second wave of the pandemic. This includes youth with special needs up to age 21.
Applications for the Support for Learners will be accepted until Feb. 8.
Parents of elementary school students were able to apply for $200 payment last year and are now able to apply for a second one. The deadline for the second payment has been extended to Feb. 8 as well.
"This money can be used to purchase laptops, workbooks, or any other learning supplies they might need at home," Ford said.
Child care services remain open and Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced the expansion of the list of essential workers that qualify for emergency child care. It now includes RCMP officers, custodial and clerical education workers and postal staff.