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Ontario Premier Doug Ford at the Trillium Health Partners Hospital, in Mississauga, Ont., on Dec. 30, 2020.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Premier Doug Ford says he is going to consult with the province’s medical experts on whether students should return to schools next week.

He says the government will be making an announcement on the issue in the coming days.

All students are currently learning online as part of a provincial lockdown but those in Northern Ontario and elementary students in Southern Ontario are set to return to in-person classes next week.

The province’s largest teachers’ union says, however, that it wants all local public-health units to reconsider opening elementary schools.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario says health units should use their authority to intervene, especially where transmission rates are high.

It says it doesn’t make sense to send students back to school in communities that will remain in lockdown.

The current lockdown will remain in place for Southern Ontario until Jan. 23, but will lift for Northern Ontario on Jan. 9.

The province has seen high daily case counts since the lockdown began on Boxing Day, and reported another 3,266 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, along with 37 new deaths.

In total, 1,463 people are hospitalized in Ontario owing to COVID-19, including 361 in intensive care, and 132 people are on ventilators.

In the province’s long-term care homes, 1,180 residents currently have COVID-19 and 20 new deaths have been reported today.

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This content appears as provided to The Globe by the originating wire service. It has not been edited by Globe staff.

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