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New Ontario COVID-19 restrictions have some implications for local schoolchildren

Kids will have to wear masks even outdoors if physical distancing not possible; mask-wearing rule imposed on younger kids
web-Kids in School

The further COVID-19 restrictions announced by the Ontario government today will have some implications for area schoolchildren.

While schools in this part of the province will remain open, there will be some new health and safety measures (effective Thursday):

  • Masking for Grade 1-3 and requirements for mask wearing outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained (currently it’s Grade 4 and up — unless boards have more stringent rules — and kids were allowed to take masks off outdoors);
  • Enhanced screening protocols will be introduced where recommended by the CMOH. To support this, Ontario’s COVID-19 School and Child Care Screening Tool, will be updated to reflect the new screening criteria.
  • Expanded targeted testing

The province also said it will implement new health and safety measures in Ontario child care settings, such as enhanced screening to align with school requirements, voluntary participation in targeted testing and additional infection prevention and control measures to align with schools. 

These enhancements are in addition to the existing health and safety measures already being implemented in child care settings across the province.

Child care centres for non-school aged children will remain open.

"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, in a press release.

"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."

Students in Southern Ontario boards are currently taking part in online learning until Jan. 25. The province announced Tuesday schools in the Windsor-Essex, Peel Region, Toronto, York and Hamilton public health units will not return to in-person instruction until Feb. 10.