WINDSOR, ONT. -- Winter break has not been extended, however, students will be home starting Monday for a full week of virtual learning before the holidays begin.

“I just really hope that things can go back to normal because I’m kind of losing social life I guess, I’m losing my time with friends,” said Evan Greenacre, a Grade 10 Walkerville Collegiate student.

Students and staff will be studying the latest COVID numbers, wondering if a return to class will be possible on Jan. 4.

“I really hope that we can go back because apparently the vaccine is coming out in January which I really hope so things can actually just start going back to normal, hopefully,” said Greenacre.

On Thursday, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit declared all lessons to go online in an effort to curb community transmission.

I couldn’t imagine being in Dr. Ahmed’s shoes right now making such a decision,” said president of the local Greater Essex Elementary Teachers Federation Mario Spagnuolo. “He’s the only medical officer of health in Ontario who has made that decision but we completely support it.”

Spagnuolo says it’s what’s best for staff and student safety, telling CTV News the mental health of everyone involved is a top priority.

“It’s going to be a rough five days for working families, for our teachers, for our students, but we will have to persevere for the betterment of our community,” he said.

But the decision has left parents scrambling to find child care by Monday, not knowing what’s to come in 2021.

“Kids need to learn. They need to be in the classroom,” said father Aaron Pelosi. “They need to interact with other students, other kids, the teachers, they get verbal cues, visuals cues how to grow up!”

As for teachers, staff members are expected at their school sites despite the closure, however, the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board will consider accommodation requests for those who are unable to make it work next week due to child care issues.

“I want our employees to know that we remain committed to being flexible and supporting them in every possible way so they may continue to provide our students and their families with the quality education they deserve,” said director of education Terry Lyons.

A memo from Lyons went out to all employees within the WECDSB Friday which included criteria for managers to consider when responding to requests from staff who may need to work from home.

With the health unit’s “bold but necessary decision” to close schools Lyons said the board is committed to providing an excellent work environment for staff so they can do “the absolute best” for students.

“It had to be done. Kids are one of the vectors for ongoing transmission in the community there’s no question about it,” said Windsor Regional Hospital chief of staff Dr. Wassim Saad.

He says the move was anticipated.

“And if we weren’t in such a dire situation at the hospital, it may not have been necessary but we know what again, a week and two weeks from now will look like if you project it out, and measures had to be taken,” Saad said.

“It could change, it could get worse, it could get better so I don’t want to say what will happen but we will obviously keep a close eye on it and we will see the impact of it,” Windsor-Essex medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said.

He says it will take two weeks to see the impacts of going to grey and virtual learning, leaving one week of holidays to determine if a return to school, as scheduled, will go ahead.