June 19, 2020 / 7:32 PM / in 2 months

Ontario school reopening plans give parents option to keep children at home

FILE PHOTO - Ontario Premier Doug Ford is seen after a meeting with Canada's provincial premiers in Toronto, Ontario, Canada December 2, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio

TORONTO (Reuters) - Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Friday parents will have the option to keep their children at home to continue with remote learning under the three scenarios school boards have been asked to consider, as the province prepares to reopen classrooms for the 2020-21 school year.

Ontario’s three scenarios are: a return to pre-pandemic education, with all students attending in person and strict cleaning guidelines in place; a modified routine allowing a maximum of 15 students per day into classrooms and adapting timetables to limit the movement of students throughout the day; or continue exclusively at-home learning.

The province said depending on the state of the coronavirus pandemic in September, each school district will follow the most appropriate option. Canada’s most populous province closed its schools in mid-March to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, along with most other provinces.

Earlier this week, Quebec said all schools will reopen in September, with social distancing measures in place.

Ontraio school boards will be asked to plan for each of the three scenarios, and be flexible to switch to any option on short notice.

Boards must be prepared to submit their plans to the government by early August, according to the province’s guidelines.

“We need to empower the school boards to make decisions based on their local needs, their local challenges and their local priorities,” Ford said. “The fact is this virus remains a threat and the health and safety of our children will always remain top of mind.”

The government will consult with public health units in August to decide which scenario is appropriate.

Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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