Multiple provinces delay in-person learning as COVID cases and hospitalizations rise


Ontario is joining the list of provinces delaying in-person schooling in the new year, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise across the country.

Monday’s announcement by Ontario Premier Doug Ford that schools will conduct online learning until at least Jan. 17 backtracked on an announcement made last week that in-person classes would resume this Wednesday.

Ford also announced what he called “targeted and time-limited” restrictions including reducing social gathering limits to five people indoors and 10 outdoors, closing indoor dining at restaurants and bars and shuttering indoor concert venues, theatres, cinemas and gyms.

Quebec, Alberta, Nova Scotia and British Columbia all previously announced delays for the return of in-person learning, with a targeted Jan. 10 start date. Manitoba, which expected students to return on Jan. 6 following the holiday break, later extended that to the 10th.

Starting today, Quebec’s booster program is set to expand to those 18 and older.

Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair tweeted yesterday that members of the Canadian Armed Forces will be deployed to Quebec to speed up the province’s vaccination efforts.

The Defence Department has said up to 200 personnel are being deployed at vaccination centres in Montreal.

In-person trials at British Columbia’s Supreme and provincial courts are being postponed this week as the courts work with public health officials to update their COVID-19 safety policies.

Newfoundland and Labrador is now in “Alert Level 4,” with chief medical officer of health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald noting active cases in the province have increased from 30 to nearly 3,000 in the last two week.

The province announced new restrictions, which includes further capacity restrictions at gyms and restaurants, which will be re-assessed on Jan. 17.

New, shortened isolation measures are now in effect in Alberta, with those who have received at least two doses of vaccine who test positive for COVID-19 only needing to isolate for five days instead of 10.

The five-day isolation period is similar to recommendations recently announced in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick and B.C. Symptoms must be fully resolved by the end of the five-day period, otherwise people must continue to isolate.