BARRIE, ONT. -- Students in Simcoe Muskoka could have the option to choose online learning over in-person for the 2021 - 2022 school year.

On Tuesday, Ontario's Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the province would increase funding to school boards by $561 million next year to help address continued pandemic-related costs.

The province said it would provide more information for parents in the coming months. It's unclear when parents would need to choose between remote or in-person schooling.

Simcoe Muskoka Catholic and public schools turned to online learning following the spring break as COVID-19 case counts "spread like wildfire."

In April, following the closure of schools, Simcoe Muskoka's medical officer of health applauded the province's decision, adding he didn't believe schools would reopen for the remainder of the academic year.

"I truly hope so because of the benefits to children's health and mental health of being in school. I would truly hope we are able to achieve it, but I don't think we can guarantee it," Dr. Charles Gardner said.

The Ford government has not provided any specifics about if or when students might return to the classroom this year.

With files from The Canadian Press