Students won’t be heading back to their classrooms until at least May as all Ontario public schools will be closed as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
During Premier Doug Ford’s COVID-19 update on Tuesday, it was confirmed that schools and child care centres will remain closed to protect the health and safety of students and staff as recommended by the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
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“The decision to extend school closures was not made lightly. We know from the medical experts that the next two weeks will be critical in the fight against COVID-19 and that’s why we’re taking further action to keep our kids safe and healthy by having them stay home,” said Premier Ford.
“At the same time, we cannot put the school year in jeopardy. That’s why we’re providing additional tools for at-home learning and ensuring students from kindergarten to Grade 12 to postsecondary education can finish their academic year and get the credits they need to graduate.”
Effective immediately, publicly-funded schools will remain closed until May 1 for teachers and May 4 for students, confirmed Ford on Tuesday, adding he is prepared to extend the closures even further if the province’s chief medical officer of health advises him to.
Moving forward, private schools, licensed child care centres, and EarlyON programs will also remain closed for at least another two weeks, according to the province’s emergency declaration, which only allows closures to be extended for 14 days at a time.
Public schools will remain closed to teachers until May 1, and May 4 for students. This is a difficult but necessary decision that protects the health and safety of not only our students, but everyone in the province. https://t.co/Lg12kGcace pic.twitter.com/jmAxzQ8Cbs
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) March 31, 2020
Earlier this month, Ontario’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce had ordered that all schools close for two weeks following March break, with a return date set for April 6.
However, on March 23, Premier Doug Ford had said it wasn’t “realistic” to expect Ontario public schools to reopen on April 6 and said that more information about the school year would be provided by government in the coming days.
To ensure students continue learning, the government also announced the launch of the second phase of Learn at Home, to provide clarity for parents, while enhancing education supports and creating opportunities for teachers and educators to connect with students.