Schools in northwestern Ontario will remain open for in-person learning, despite Ontario’s state of emergency and stay-at-home orders.

Students in Grades 1 to 3 will also be required to wear masks when indoors as well as students will be required to wear masks outdoors, there will be enhanced screening protocols and expanded targeted testing. Childcare centres will remain open for non-school aged children.

"At the heart of our continued efforts to protect against  the spread of COVID-19 in our communities is a firm commitment to return kids to school safely," said Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

As of the time of writing, there are currently 44 active cases of COVID-19 in the region. That includes 27 active cases in the Rainy River District, 15 in the Kenora region and 2 in the Dryden / Red Lake region.

"Protecting our students, staff and their families is our top priority, and these additional measures build on our comprehensive plan to reopen schools and keep young children in child care safe."

In-person learning has been suspended until February 10 in a few southern Ontario regions. Ontario says schools in Northern Ontario will remain open, and the remaining school boards will be advised by January 20 on when they can return to school.

However, Fort Frances area students aren’t in their classrooms, after a spike of COVID-19 cases over the weekend. The Northwestern Health Unit advised against a return to in-person learning on Sunday.

Some regional school boards are opting for virtual learning until January 15 at the earliest, including Gaagagekiizhik Elementary and Bimose High School in Kenora.

As of January 14 at 12:01 a.m., Ontario’s stay-at-home orders require all residents to stay home unless for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or the pharmacy, accessing health care, exercise or for essential work. It will remain in effect for at least 28 days. 

Anyone who has symptoms, or who has been in contact with a positive case, should self-isolate and get tested and remain in isolation until your results are known. 

For more information:
Ontario issues stay-at-home orders, orders state of emergency
In-person learning delayed in Fort Frances due to COVID-19 risk