TORONTO – Ontario’s education minister says the province is still evaluating whether schools that are closed for in-person learning can reopen next week.
Stephen Lecce says the government is considering various factors, including COVID-19 case counts and local preparedness plans, and hopes to announce more in the coming days.
Schools in five hot spots as well as several other regions are currently teaching students entirely online and the province previously said they would reopen for in-person learning by Feb. 10.
Ontario’s chief medical officer says the province needs to do more work with public health units before those schools can reopen.
Dr. David Williams says the province wants to ensure local health officials are comfortable with reopening their schools before proceeding.
Meanwhile, the province says it will allow university students studying to become teachers to work as substitute teachers in schools this year in an effort to deal with educator shortages due to the pandemic.
The province says it is making a temporary change to its teacher certification program to allow the students to work in schools.
They must be enrolled in a current program and have successfully completed a portion of it. They must also be scheduled to complete the program by Dec. 31, 2021.
The province says the temporary certificate changes will expire at the end of the year.
It hopes the changes will mean up to 2,000 additional supply teachers will be available for positions across the province.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2021.
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