02/01/2021 14:19 EST

Doug Ford Says Goal Is Still To Open All Ontario Schools By Feb. 10

Students in COVID-19 hot spots like Waterloo Region, Windsor and the GTA, are still learning remotely.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says his goal is still to open all schools by Feb. 10, even though his education minister hasn’t formally announced that yet. 

“I know the minister will be coming out in the next day or two to announce that,” Ford said during a photo opportunity in Scarborough, Ont. Monday.

“I know the parents want the kids back in school. We want them back in school. And the kids want to get back in school.”

Students in COVID-19 hot spots have been learning entirely online since December. 

Schools in other areas, mostly in northern and eastern Ontario, reopened in January. In four more regions, including Ottawa and London, Ont., schools reopened Monday.

See the full list of where schools are opened and closed here.

The premier also said schools will not open if cases skyrocket. 

“I won’t jeopardize our kids for a second. If it’s not safe, we aren’t sending them back.”

Ontario has seen a decline in the daily number of new COVID-19 cases reported in recent weeks. The province reported 1,969 new cases and 36 more deaths Monday, with a seven-day average of 1,889. That’s down from the record of 3,519 reported on Jan. 7.

Christopher Katsarov/Canadian Press
Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce makes an announcement at Queen's Park in Toronto on Aug, 13, 2020.

Earlier Monday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced that $381 million in federal funding would go towards schools, including $65 million for personal protective equipment (PPE), $50 million for better ventilation and air filters and $10 million for mental health supports. 

He also said that student teachers would be allowed to work as substitute teachers, citing a shortage.

The Opposition NDP said the government needs to bring in new measures to protect students, staff and their families now that new COVID-19 variants are spreading. The government should cap class sizes at 15 and bring in paid sick days and family leave days to encourage people to stay home when sick, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and education critic Marit Stiles said in a statement.

“We all want kids safely back in school as quickly as possible. But especially with the new, more infectious variants in our communities, I’m worried that history will repeat itself, students and staff will get sick, and more school closures will follow,” Horwath said.