Ontario schools to switch to remote learning after spring break
Less than a week after the provincial government implemented a stay-at-home order, it has now decided students will not return to class after Spring Break.
At a news conference Monday afternoon, Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced that students will switch to full remote learning when the break ends.
“We are seeing a rapidly deteriorating situation with a record number of COVID cases and hospital admissions threatening to overwhelm our health care system,” said Premier Ford. “As I have always said, we will do whatever it takes to ensure everyone stays safe. By keeping kids home longer after spring break we will limit community transmission, take pressure off our hospitals, and allow more time to roll out our COVID-19 vaccine plan.”
Child care for non-school-aged children will remain open, before and after school programs will be closed, and free emergency child care for the school-aged children of eligible health care and frontline workers will be provided.
“To date, we have kept our schools safe. But today’s announcement is about prevention. It is a proactive and sadly necessary precaution as we tackle the third wave of COVID-19. Cases across Ontario communities are rising quickly and the new COVID-19 variants pose a serious threat,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce.
A specific return date for in-person learning has not been identified. The province says measures of four to six weeks are expected to slow transmission of the virus.
“We will communicate to parents based on the advice we receive from the chief medical officer of health to reopen our schools. That is our intent, it just has to be safe,” said Minister Lecce.
When the stay-at-home order was implemented last week, the government said its intention was to keep schools open to protect the mental health of students in the province. Now the government is indicating the rise of community spread and overwhelmed hospital systems has lead to this decision.
“Based on discussions with Dr. Williams and the medical teams over the past hours, needing to act quickly and decisively during COVID-19 we’ve made this decision, as difficult as it is, with one aim which is to lower the community rates to get our kids back,” said Minister Lecce.
On Monday, the government reported an increase of 4,401 new cases of COVID-19. There are 1,646 people receiving treatment in Ontario hospitals for the virus and of those 619 are in the intensive care unit.
Schools will remain open for in-person learning for special education students who cannot be accommodated through remote learning. Special education teachers throughout the province will be receiving vaccines this week, however, it takes around two weeks for the vaccine to take effect.