Ontario's Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced that the government is "finalizing the health protocols" for schools to reopen in September per a detailed plan to be released next week, according to CTV News.
"We are finalizing the health protocols and working very closely with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and some of the best pediatric minds in the nation that are informing the plan," Lecce said during today's press conference in Brampton.
"We believe we will be able to unveil it next week. That will include additional supports and resources to enable our boards to succeed."
In June, Premier Doug Ford's administration asked school boards to prepare three separate plans for classes to resume: online learning only, hybrid in-person attendance on alternating days or weeks, and full-time in-person instruction.
School boards still have until Aug. 4 to submit their outlined plans. However, Lecce revealed that next week's announcement could be coming before the deadline, mandating which model the boards will be instructed to follow.
Lecce's spokesperson later clarified to CP24 that the boards will still be expected to submit three separate plans in the event that circumstances change and a new approach is needed.
Individual school boards were initially able to choose their own plan based on the COVID-19 risk posed to their communities. Ford has since said that he wants students to return to school full-time if safe to do so.
Yesterday, Ford said in a press briefing that unorthodox teaching should be considered to keep kids safe, such as outdoor classrooms. "No idea is a ridiculous idea," he stated.
“The premier and the government continue to be focused on a safe, conventional, day-to-day return to school," Lecce said today. "Maybe a new conventional where kids still can go to school five days a week."
Numerous school boards have previously vocalized that resuming full-time classes, five days per week, will cause heavy costs due to limited class sizes.
The Toronto District School Board claimed that grouping all elementary students by 15 and keeping days the standard length would require nearly 2,500 new teachers hired at a cost of $249 million, according to CP24.