Back to School

Summary

Most Ontario students are returning to in-person learning across the province next week to safer schools with improved ventilation and high provincial vaccine rates. On August 3rd, the province provided guidance to school boards, students and parents on health and safety protocols — including major upgrades to school ventilation and air quality. 

Following the expert advice of Sick Kids Hospital, the Ontario’s Science Table, and the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Ontario schools will reopen with a cautious plan focused on strengthening mental and physical health and supporting learning recovery in math and reading.

Premier Ford and Minister Lecce are committed to continuing to make schools as safe as possible, which is why the government announced more than $1.6 billion in resources to school boards for the 2021-22 school year and $600M investment to improve ventilation throughout the province. This will provide schools with access to a wide range of supports for student mental health, the hiring of additional staff, school-focused nurses in public health units, barrier-free testing, remote learning technology, and supporting health and safety measures in student transportation.

Key Messages

  • Following the expert advice of Ontario’s pediatric hospitals and the Chief Medical Officer of Health, we have invested heavily in ventilation improvements to support safer schools.  
  • We have deployed HEPA units into every kindergarten class, into every learning space without mechanical ventilation, and many boards have gone even further — placing HEPA units in every classroom.
  • Our cautious plan is designed to minimize disruption and maximize safety — with a focus on ventilation improvements, enhanced cleaning, strict screening, and low-barrier testing — so that your children can continue learning through the year.
  • While Ontario’s plan is cautious to protect students and staff, it also prioritizes learning recovery in reading and math. New supports for students for our youngest learners to those who will graduate later this year will help unlock their potential and bridge the gaps that arose last year.
  • In the 2021-22 school year, Ontario’s plan allows for:  
    • Return to in-person learning for the full school day, though synchronous remote learning will remain an option.
    • Learning in classrooms supported by physical distancing, and enhanced cleaning;
    • Students to participate in extracurricular activities, clubs, music, and the arts, both within the school and through inter-school sport activities with some modifications; and 
    • Improved ventilation and other air quality infrastructure upgrades, including HEPA units in all kindergarten classrooms and in all learning spaces that are not connected to mechanical ventilation systems. 
  • To combat the Delta variant and building on the 75.5 percentage one-dose and 63.7 percent two-dose vaccination rate for 12 -17 year olds, our government is working with public health units and publicly funded school boards to plan and host voluntary vaccination clinics in or nearby schools.
  • Following expert medical guidance and approved by the Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, we updated our school attendance screening tool, serving as the first line of defense in keeping COVID-19 out of our schools.