With children across Ontario set to return to in-class learning on Monday, some parents in the Ottawa Valley feel it is still not safe enough.

Arnprior mother Sophie Smith-Dore says she will be keeping her kids home come Monday.

Her 15-year-old son in Grade 10 has received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and her 5-year-old daughter has received her first dose. However, with booster shots still not available to youth in Canada, Smith-Dore is not willing to take the risk with omicron running rampant.

"How am I supposed to send my teenager to school in sardine cans of classrooms," the mother of two tells CTV News Ottawa. "With possibly HEPA filtered rooms and possibly properly masked people."

Smith-Dore was hoping booster shots for youth would be prioritized ahead of the return to in-person learning, but was rejected when she and her son attended a vaccine clinic for his third dose.

"I am going to have to have the conversation with my teenager that I can't let them go back to school because I'm afraid that they're going to get sick, and then their sister sick."

Meantime, the region's top doctor is confident ahead of the return to school.

Renfrew County's acting medial officer of health says if he had an 8-year-old, he would be sending them to school come Monday.

"We want these kids to go back, they're suffering immensely, their education has stalled," Dr. Robert Cushman says. "Their social lives are pretty much restricted to screen time; their mental health has been effected, so this is tough."

However, Cushman is also calling on parents to do more to help the region's children. He wants attendance numbers at youth vaccination clinics to jump.

"We're sending them back at the height of Omicron and the vaccination rates in the 5 to 11 year-old aged group are only 40 percent; I don't understand frankly," says Cushman. "If you want your kid back at school, get your kid vaccinated."

Approximately 80 percent of those aged 12 to 17 in Renfrew County have been vaccinated, with over 90 percent of the rest of the county having received at least one dose.

The county is also prepared to shorten to the wait times between first and second doses for those 5 to 11 in the wake of Omicron. Currently the recommendation is eight weeks, but the health unit wants to get second doses out as quickly as possible.

"It's the long-term effects that I'm concerned about that I need to keep them protected for," says Smith-Dore. 

"And if we lose the school year to keep them protected that's what happens I guess."

"I think in the interim, with two vaccines and ample precautions, in particular minimizing your social group," advises Dr. Cushman, "this can be done."