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Several GTA school boards to reopen for in-person learning after snowstorm

Click to play video: 'Snowstorm cleanup in Toronto expected to last days' Snowstorm cleanup in Toronto expected to last days
WATCH: Snowstorm cleanup in Toronto expected to last days – Jan 18, 2022

Several school boards in the Greater Toronto Area are set to reopen their schools for in-person learning on Wednesday after an intense snowstorm rocked the region on Monday

In a statement, Tuesday, Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Director of Education Colleen Russell-Rawlins, said the board would reopen schools on Wednesday.

Russell-Rawlins said the board has been “closely monitoring the weather forecast, City of Toronto snow clearing operations” and the clearing of snow from board properties.

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Russell-Rawlins said while not yet complete, the city “continues to make significant progress in clearing major roads and side streets and will continue overnight.”

“The vast majority of TDSB schools and sites have been plowed and thanks to the great work of our caretakers are now accessible. Plowing will continue,” the notice reads.

Read more: Major delays continue across Highway 401 in Toronto day after massive snowstorm

Russell-Rawlins said while delays are “still possible,” students and staff will “more easily be able to travel to schools/sites given significant plowing operations underway in the GTA.”

She said childcare programs can remain open, but urged families to connect with their operator to confirm their child’s program is open.

“Before and After-School Programs, and Extended Day Programs will also be able to open,” the statement reads. “TDSB EarlyON Child and Family Centres will continue to offer virtual-only programming at this time. All Continuing Education programs will also resume as normal.”

Students across Ontario were scheduled to return to the classroom after learning online since the holiday break in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19.

The Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) also announced its schools would be open for in-person learning on Wednesday.

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Click to play video: 'Ontario’s winter storm cleanup expected to take all week' Ontario’s winter storm cleanup expected to take all week
Ontario’s winter storm cleanup expected to take all week – Jan 18, 2022

The board pointed to an update from the City of Toronto, which said approximately 600 road plows, 200 salt trucks and 360 sidewalk plows have been working 24 hours a day to clean up after the storm.

The TCDSB said families who rely on bus transportation may experience some “significant delays” on Wednesday.

“We ask that a family member please say with your child(ren) while they wait for the bus in case there are delays,” the board said

In a tweet Tuesday evening, the Peel District School Board confirmed all of its schools would be open to students and staff on Wednesday.

“All elementary students enrolled in the in-person learning model for Term 1 and all secondary students who attend in-person classes, will return to school on Jan. 19,” the tweet reads.

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Similarly, the Durham District School Board said it anticipates its schools would be open again on Wednesday.

“Snow removal is ongoing across the region,” a post on Twitter reads. “Please know that there is the possibility for delays to occur and it may take longer to get to school.”

The York Region District School Board said it is “looking forward to welcoming students back to class” on Wednesday.

Read more: Drivers get stuck along major Toronto-area highways as winter storm blasts southern Ontario

The Halton District School Board sent an update to families on Tuesday, saying it is “excited to welcome” students back to in-person and virtual learning on Wednesday.

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“We understand these last two days have been hectic, but we are eager and prepared to welcome students to school tomorrow (in-person and virtually),” the letter reads.

Some school boards in the province were able to resume classes on Tuesday, but many in the Greater Toronto Area were forced to close for a second day as crews worked to clear snow.

Schools were supposed to resume in-person learning after pivoting to online after the holiday break in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Lecce, Moore issue open letter to parents

In an open letter to parents on Tuesday, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce, and the province’s top doctor Kieran Moore, outlined some of the steps the government has implemented to keep students and staff safe as they return to school amid COVID-19.

“We are taking nothing for granted,” the letter reads. “Health and safety in our schools and child care settings remains a top priority and we continue to monitor to ensure that every precaution is taken to protect children, students and staff and to keep our schools and child care settings as safe as they can be.”

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Moore and Lecce said 3.9 million rapid antigen COVID-19 tests were distributed to schools this week, and added that more are on the way.

They also touted the province’s COVID-19 vaccination rate among children.

To date, more than 86.5 per cent of youth aged 12 to 17 have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the letter said. Meanwhile, 83 per cent have had two doses.

However, only 50.1 per cent of children between five and 11 have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Moore and Lecce also said school-based clinics are “also being launched” when students return to in-person learning “to support additional access points for students and families.”

The letter said parents at these schools will receive a form “in the coming days” to offer a vaccination for their child at the school-based clinic.

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