TORONTO — Ontario is set to announce a plan today for reopening schools in September.

Schools across the province have been closed since March 13, when the government moved to shut down much of the province to address the spread of COVID-19.

The school year has continued with remote learning since then, and Education Minister Stephen Lecce had promised a plan for a safe September reopening by the end of this month.

He is set to make the announcement today with Premier Doug Ford.

A report released this week by medical experts from Toronto’s SickKids Hospital said children are not the super-spreaders of COVID-19 they initially believed they would be.

Guidelines on reopening provided by those experts to the province include extra hand hygiene, environmental cleaning and ventilation, and taking classes outdoors when possible — but not requiring masks for kids or discouraging close play.

More regions of Ontario are moving into the second stage of the province’s reopening plan today, including parts of the Greater Toronto Area.

York, Durham and Niagara are among the areas allowed to further open their economies, though Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex will remain in the first stage until at least next Friday.

Most areas were allowed to enter the second stage last Friday, except for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas, some regions that border the United States and those with COVID-19 outbreaks among migrant workers.

The second stage of reopening includes restaurant patios, hair salons and swimming pools.

As for Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex, Premier Doug Ford has urged patience.

He says the province will re-evaluate its readiness on Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 19, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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