Students in the GTA head back to class after remote learning and Monday’s snowstorm

Students across Ontario are headed back to the classroom Wednesday after a long break from in-person learning. An Omicron-fulled surge in COVID-19 cases forced students into online learning for what, in some ways, turned into a two-week extension of Christmas break.

Schools were set to reopen on Monday but a massive snowstorm that practically brought the province to it’s knees delayed the return to class for many boards, including those in Toronto, for two more days.

11:05 a.m. Apoorve Jain says he and his seven-year-old son are excited about the return to schools.

Jain says he’s received three shots of a COVID-19 vaccine and his son has received his first shot, so he feels “pretty good” about sending his son back.

11 a.m. Parents dropping off their kids expressed mixed emotions at the return to in-person learning.

Natasha Chadenga says she’s feeling “a lot of trepidation” sending her six-year-old daughter back.

She says it seems like the provincial government hasn’t put enough safety measures in place in schools, and she’s concerned that in a short amount of time, schools will have to close again due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

9:22 a.m. With most children returning to in-person learning, parents and educators have taken to social media to share their thoughts about heading back to classrooms. “I’m pretty broken up about not sending my kids to school today,” one parent tweeted.

“I know I’m immensely privileged to be able to keep them home but there are no good options in @fordnation’s and @Sflecce’s Ontario. #OntEd”

One teacher, commenting on instructions to open the windows for ventilation in the absence of a HEPA filter, posted a photo of the windows in her classroom that could not open fully because of snow accumulation from Monday’s blizzard.

The blizzard delayed the return to in-person learning for most students. For some children, it seems, the return to class is a welcome change from two weeks of online learning. “12yo is in her jacket, standing by the door, about 40 mins early,” one parent tweeted. “That’s a first!”

A poster under the handle @GregLovesTo shared the emotional experience of dropping his three daughters at school yesterday. He said he “broke down” watching his daughters enter the school in their “poorly fitting” KN95 masks, sized for adults.

“I feel like I am putting my kids in harm’s way by bringing them to school. I feel like having them home isn’t an option. We, as parents, have no choice, and our gov’t that provides education and health care has failed us & our kids by forcing them back into unsafe schools,” he wrote. – Jenna Moon

9:20 a.m. Weston CI has also moved to remote learning on Wednesday.

9:12 a.m. Amid the confusion of students returning to school as COVID-19 cases surge, Lisa Petsinis said she’s troubled by a suggestion from her daughter’s school about lunchtime: that kids briefly remove their masks to take a bite to eat and put them back on to chew.

A newsletter to parents, which also stressed students will be reminded to maintain physical distancing, “doesn’t say anything about how this is going to be supervised, and I’m not sure if it’s even possible to do,” said Petsinis, whose 14-year-old daughter attends a school in Etobicoke under the Toronto District School Board.

Read: As kids return to school, lunch becomes the most complicated meal of the day

8:53 a.m. Secondary schools moving to remote learning Wednesday: Dr. Norman Bethune CI. Emery CI, John Polanyi CI, Newtonbrook SS and Yorkdale SS, according to the TDSB.

8:22 a.m. School buses will be running Wednesday. “However, there may be delays as some buses and yards are still being cleared. Please check the transportation portal in the morning for updates on possible delays,” TSTG tweeted Tuesday evening.

8:13 a.m. Various school boards are tweeting that students and families must complete confirmation of screening before coming to school each morning.

7:57 a.m. The TDSB tweeted Wednesday morning that eight high schools will be forced to move to remote learning today after the contractor hired to remove snow did not complete the work. Elementary schools will return to in-person classes.

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