Quebec schools will reopen for in person learning as planned on Jan. 17 – Montreal

In-person learning at Quebec schools will resume on Jan. 17 as planned, Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said Wednesday, despite the continuing spread of COVID-19 in the province.

Roberge told reporters in Montreal that the province will distribute five COVID-19 self-tests per month to all primary and secondary school students in January and February as part of its plan to control spread of the disease in schools.

“Our schools are and will be safe,” he said.

READ MORE: Quebec reduces COVID-19 isolation to 5 days, reserves PCR tests for those high risk

While Roberge said the province has taken steps to improve remote learning, Quebec’s priority remains reopening schools. “Are we satisfied with distance learning? No, it’s a good Plan B. Our Plan A is schools that are open and the return of students and staff.”

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Teachers will also be added to the list of priority groups eligible to receive PCR tests for COVID-19, Roberge said. The Quebec government announced Tuesday it is no longer offering PCR testing to the general public and is instead reserving those tests for higher-risk groups.

Earlier Wednesday, Quebec reported 39 more deaths and 158 more hospitalizations related to COVID-19. The Health Department said data from the previous 24 hours showed 1,750 people were in hospital with COVID-19, including 191 in intensive care _ a rise of six from the day before.

READ MORE: Omicron FAQ: Everything you need to know about the COVID-19 variant

Officials reported 14,486 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday and said about 28 per cent of tests came back positive _ the same positivity rate as the day before.

The Health Department reported 316 new COVID-19 cases in long-term care centres, bringing the total number of cases in those facilities to 1,537. There have been 39 deaths linked to currently active COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care.

Authorities said 92,506 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the previous 24 hours, including 87,721 third doses. They said 89 per cent of Quebec residents five and over have received at least one dose of vaccine.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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