TORONTO -- Parents of Ontario secondary students can now apply for a one-time $200 payment per child to help offset education costs during the pandemic.

Premier Doug Ford announced in December that parents of secondary students would be able to apply for the payment between Jan. 11 and Feb. 8.

Parents of elementary school students were also able to apply for a $200 payment earlier this year and are also able to apply for a second one.

The deadline for parents of elementary school students to apply for the second $200 payment was extended in December until Feb. 8.

Parents who want to apply for the payment can do so on the government's Support for Learner's website.

The government said the money will be deposited directly into parents' bank accounts approximately two weeks after their application is approved. 

The payment for parents of secondary students will be available for those with children aged 13 through to Grade 12.

The financial support is available regardless of whether students attend a public school, private school or are homeschooled.

The growing number of new COVID-19 cases in Ontario prompted the government to extend the closure of in-person learning for elementary students in the southern part of the province last week.

Students in southern Ontario won't return to class until Jan. 25, and will instead participate in virtual learning.