FILE - In this Aug. 5, 2020, file photo, wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID19, elementary school students use hand sanitizer before entering school for classes in Godley, Texas. As schools reopen around the country, their ability to quickly identify and contain coronavirus outbreaks before they get out of hand is about to be put to the test. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

Elementary school students across northern Ontario can return to in-class learning this morning.

The northern portion of the province is allowed to return to school buildings as positivity rates for COVID-19 are relatively low.

The provincial government announced on Thursday that schools across southern Ontario, meanwhile, would not be returning to in-person classes today as planned.

Instead, students in southern Ontario will continue attending classes remotely until at least Jan. 25.

To account for the change, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced Saturday that the list of essential workers eligible for emergency child care would be expanded.

It now includes RCMP officers, custodial and clerical education workers and postal staff.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 11, 2021.