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Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce makes an announcement at St. Robert Catholic High School in Toronto, on Aug. 4, 2021.

Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce says every classroom in schools without mechanical ventilation systems will have a standalone HEPA unit upon students’ return this fall.

He says about 70 per cent of schools in the province have mechanical ventilation and nearly all of them are using higher-grade filters and changing them more frequently.

In the schools without mechanical ventilation, Lecce says 50,000 standalone HEPA units are already in use, and $25 million in funding announced today will buy 20,000 more - enough for every classroom.

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Lecce says it will also be enough for all other learning spaces, such as gyms, libraries, portables, and child care rooms within schools.

He says every junior and senior kindergarten classroom will have a HEPA unit, regardless of the school’s ventilation system, since those kids will not be required to wear masks.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore also announced that he approved a change to the back-to-school plan announced Tuesday, permitting high-contact sports to be played indoors.

The Ontario government says all classrooms that need standalone HEPA air filters will get them as part of its back-to-school plan. Other elements of the plan include allowing high-contact sports indoors, use of instruments in music class and not masking outdoors even if distance can’t be maintained.

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