Simcoe Muskoka students will not return to in-person learning
BARRIE, ONT. -- Simcoe Muskoka students will not return to in-person learning on Monday.
The province announced Wednesday that over 100,000 students across Ontario could return to school, but online learning will continue for the rest of southern Ontario.
Pauline Stevenson, communications manager with Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board, said the announcement was disappointing.
"Our primary concern at this point is that students continue to make daily connections with their school. We know that some students struggle in this remote learning environment - they may have academic difficulties, but equally concerning are issues related to mental health and wellness."
Stevenson adds that the board would reach out to parents once they have more details from the ministry of education.
The government closed schools to in-class learning in late December with a return date of Jan. 11 for elementary students and Jan. 25 for secondary students. That closure was extended amid rising COVID cases to Jan. 25 for all southern Ontario students, while northern Ontario students returned on Jan. 11.
The province's five hotspots, York Region, Toronto, Hamilton, Peel Region, and Windsor-Essex, were further closed until Feb. 10.
Among the schools listed by the province that will return Monday are Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board, Bluewater District School Board, Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, and Trillium Lakelands District School Board, except for those schools in Simcoe Muskoka.
School boards like Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir and Conseil scolaire Viamonde can open for in-class learning within public health unit jurisdictions that the province has deemed able to reopen, which, again is not the case for Simcoe Muskoka students.
For students not returning on Monday, the government didn't give a clear date for when they might go back to the classroom.
It also didn't say when it would re-evaluate the situation.
The 28-day province-wide lockdown could be lifted on Feb. 10.