Students in northwestern Ontario will return to their classrooms on January 11, 2021, even though Northern Ontario will be under a lockdown. 

rn Ontario public health unit regions will proceed with in-person learning on January 11. It has been suspended until January 25 in Southern Ontario.

Ontario says that targeted testing done among students and staff in December, 2020 confirmed that schools are not a significant source of COVID-19 transmission.

However, with students having been at home for several weeks and with reports of concerning behaviour over the holidays, the positivity rate among school-aged children has increased sharply.

They add that most troubling, the positivity rate for kids aged 12-13 years old increased from 5.44 per cent in late November and early December, to nearly 20 per cent in early January.

In the nearly two weeks since Ontario was moved into a Provincewide Shutdown, trends in key public health indicators have continued to worsen in both Northern and Southern Ontario, including concerning trends in health system capacity, most notably in hospitals.

Trends show increasing transmission in many Northern Ontario public health regions, including the Northwestern Health Unit catchment area where 32 cases of COVID-19 have been identified since the lockdown began on December 26. 

The Ministry of Education says they will continue to act on the best advice of medical and health experts to ensure that students in Northern Ontario are able to return to school safely and, when safe to do so, students in Southern Ontario as well.

In order to continue to support remote learning, the ministry has recommended that a portion of the second half of federal funding, an additional $80 million investment, will be provided for additional technological devices, such as laptops and tablets, to support school boards in procuring about 160,000 additional devices province-wide.