Students will begin remote learning Monday, here’s what to expect for school start-up in Ontario

Many students will return to school Monday, but things will look quite different as they adjust to remote learning due to new COVID-19 restrictions in Ontario.

Both elementary and secondary school students will have classes online for the first week of January, according to a statement on Twitter from Stephen Lecce, the province’s minister of education.

“The government announced a provincewide shutdown that put in place time-limited public health and workplace safety measures to help ensure our schools remain safe, to stop the spread of COVID-19 transmission in communities, and to save lives,” the statement addressed to parents said.

Elementary school students are expected to return to in-person learning on Jan. 11.

Secondary school students in Ontario’s northern Public Health Units are also expected to return to in-person classes on Jan. 11. That includes Thunder Bay and Sudbury.

The plan is for the remaining secondary schools across the province to make a return on Jan. 25, while those enrolled in online classes will continue to do so for the entire month.

For Grades 1 to 12, a minimum standard of 75 per cent of students 300 minutes of daily instructions are to be delivered over the video conference tool Zoom.

The statement also said the province has purchased over 150,000 new devices for students to help with the transition to remote learning. Over 8,000 connectivity devices have also been provided to help those unable to access internet at home.

While some students with special education needs are not being supported through remote learning, Lecce said the province has directed school boards to provide in-person learning “for these exceptional cases.”

According to Lecce, the province is also expected to deliver close to $800 million in financial relief to parents and guardians of students.

Parents can apply for the one-time financial support until Feb. 8, 2021. The program is expanding to include financial supports for high school students.

It’s also expected to contain cost for technology and internet with $200 for each child up to Grade 12, including students over 18, with $250 for children or youth with special needs.

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