The hope that school would resume on Monday for elementary students is gone. The Ontario government is keeping elementary school doors closed for another two weeks, leaving children and parents having to cope with online education.
Elementary and secondary schools in the southern region of Ontario will remain closed until Jan. 25.
In-person learning at elementary schools was set to resume on Jan. 11, but Ontario announced schools will remain closed.
"With the public health trends where they are across the province, our priority remains keeping students, teachers, school staff and all Ontarian safe," said Premier Doug Ford. "That's why we are extending the remote learning period for students."
For Johanne Kowalcyk, she struggles once again to regain some normalcy for her family. In March, her husband died of cancer.
Now a single parent and a front line worker, Kowalcyk is taking time off to help her two daughters, Holly in grade four, and Jade in grade seven.
"I believe schools should remain essential so people can go to work," says Kowalcyk. "As far as I'm concerned, I think it's safe and they follow protocols."
Kowalcyk also believes it is a benefit for the health of children. Daughter Holly says she misses being with friends in "real life" as well as seeing her teachers.
Testing in December showed schools are not a significant source of transmission. However, over the holiday break and with reports of people not following the rules, positivity rates among school-aged children increased sharply.
Positive COVID-19 cases in children between 12 and 13 years-old increased from 5.44 per cent in November and December 2020 to nearly 20 per cent.
On Friday, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said to reopen schools they want to ramp up asymptomatic testing and invest another $380 million that will go towards HVAC improvements, personal protective equipment and more staff at schools.
Lecce says with that, plus additional enhancements to the screening protocol will further improve the safety of schools to get through the second wave.
That still leaves Kowalcyk not knowing what to do. She is an essential childcare provider who ironically cannot find any for her own children.
"I've reached out to various agencies and they're all full they're all at maximum capacity.'
The Ontario government is expanding funding for the Ministry of Education's emergency childcare program for more front line and safety workers, but for Kowalcyk, help is needed now.