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Ontario Premier Doug Ford tours the COVID-19 testing centre in Terminal 3 at Toronto Pearson International Airport, on Feb. 3, 2021.Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Ontario’s premier says his cabinet is considering starting to reopen shuttered schools next week, with a final decision expected later today.

Premier Doug Ford says his government is looking at either a return date of Feb. 8 or Feb. 10 for some southern Ontario schools, with others possibly resuming in-person learning a week later.

His office says no final decision have been made yet.

The education minister is set to make an announcement on school reopenings at 4 p.m. today.

The province previously said that schools in five COVID-19 hot spots as well as several other regions would reopen for in-person learning by Feb. 10.

That date was later thrown into question as Ontario dealt with high COVID-19 case counts that only recently have begun to decrease.

All students in Ontario began January with online learning as part of a provincial lockdown.

The province has since taken a staggered approach to reopening physical classrooms, starting first with Northern Ontario and rural schools where case rates are lower.

Meanwhile, Ontario reported 1,172 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday but officials noted that updates to the provincial case-management system were causing data fluctuations.

Public health officials said migration of the City of Toronto’s data to the provincial database was leading to data cleanup that’s affecting daily tallies.

Ontario also reported 67 more deaths linked to the virus.

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