This week, Ontario unveiled its Back to School guidance for a safe return to full-time, in-person learning this fall. Based on the latest public health data and supported by investments, the province is providing direction to school boards, students and parents on health and safety protocols. Guidance includes direction for students, including secondary students who will return to in-person learning daily for the full school day, remote learning, masking and cohorting guidance for students (Grade 1 to 12) and staff as well as guidance around extra-curricular activities.
While public health indicators give us reason for optimism, COVID-19 continues to pose a threat. By making available more than $1.6 billion in resources to school boards throughout the province for this coming year, our government is keeping kids as safe as possible. 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, asymptomatic testing, remote learning technology, and supporting health and safety measures in student transportation.
With the return of in-person learning, students will be able to benefit from direct interaction with their friends and teachers. It will also allow for a more normal school year with extra curricular activities, like sports and field trips – critical to the mental health and well-being of students.
Throughout the 2021-22 school year, the Ministry of Education will continue to work with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local public health units to assess key indicators (such as vaccination rates and community transmission) to inform and update provincial guidance for schools and child care as needed. This could lead to easing or strengthening health and safety measures across the province, or at the regional level.
To help address the backlog of road tests, Ontario will begin to open a number of temporary road test centres starting on Monday, August 9, 2021. The first two temporary road test centres will open in Guelph and Oshawa, with four more following in September across the Greater Golden Horseshoe. These locations are targeted in areas where demand is the highest and will exclusively be offering passenger road tests (class G2 and G).
Starting Monday, the two temporary centres opening will exclusively offer class G2/G road tests daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Oshawa site will operate seven days a week, while the site in Guelph will operate five days a week starting in August and expand operations to seven days a week in November 2021. The four additional temporary road test centres opening next month will serve Toronto, Hamilton/Niagara, Mississauga/Brampton, and York/Durham.
Today, Ontario rolled out two mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics as part of the province’s last mile strategy to target those who have yet to receive a first or second dose of the vaccine. The GO-VAXX buses, retrofitted through a partnership with Metrolinx, will travel to malls, festivals, community hubs and events throughout the summer and fall across the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region. No appointments are needed, and anyone aged 12 and over can get their first or second dose while supplies last. The mobile clinics are fully accessible and will be administering the Pfizer vaccine.
Each bus is expected to be on the road six days a week. The province will work with local public health units and municipalities to determine specific sites based on local data and needs. The weekly GO-VAXX schedule can be found at www.ontario.ca/vaccinebus and will be updated weekly.
My constituency office is open Monday to Friday from 10AM to 4PM. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to drop by. Please note that you must have a face-covering to enter and capacity is limited to 2 people at a time. In efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we encourage you to continue to contact us at (416) 781-2395 or email [email protected]. We remain ready to assist.