There is no shortage to the questions being asked surrounding this pandemic but one of the questions asked the most often: will students return to the classroom this year?

No one seems to have the answer to that one.

Deb Crawford, Director of Education for the St. Clair Catholic District School Board says it’s a numbers game.

“We’re understanding there’s some conditions that the provincial table will need to be in place for schools to return in Ontario, and so much of that has to do with the situation around community spread of COVID,” Crawford says. “We’re waiting for advisement from the Ministry (of Education) to let us know what could perhaps happen to us, provincially.”

John Howitt with the Lambton-Kent District School Board says they are all prepared to return to the classroom when they eventually get the green light.

“All school boards are prepared for whichever outcome, we’re hopeful for a return to face-to-face learning before the end of the school year,” Howitt says. “However we’ll continue to provide the best programming possible in a remote setting while following Ministry of Education and Pubic Health advice.”

From a medical perspective, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Colby, says they understand kids do better with in person learning.

“The science table tries to look at all the factors around this, and obviously there are conflicting interest here. But we all recognize the fact that kids will do much better in an in-class school environment rather than remote learning at home. On the other hand, the situation with variants constantly changing the landscape is very hard to predict.”

Dr. Colby says with 34 medical officers of Health across Ontario, there won’t always be a consensus on what’s best. He says whenever schools are deemed safe, that will be a provincial call, and at this point there’s no indication a decision is coming any time soon.