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All Ontario schools to remain closed after Spring Break

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Ontario students will continue to learn remotely

TORONTO, ON., April 12, 2021 — At Queen’s Park today the province announced that all Ontario elementary and secondary schools will remain closed indefinitely and students will continue to learn remotely following the April break.

“We will communicate to parents based on the advice we receive from the Chief Medical Officer of Health (on when we can reopen schools). That is our intent, it just has to be safe and as soon as we get that go ahead from Dr. Williams and his colleagues we will make sure parents know with advanced notice,” said Lecce.

The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has made the decision to move all schools to remote learning in response to the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, (4,401 today), the increasing risks posed to the public by COVID-19 variants, and the massive spike in hospital admissions.

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the province have increased by 22.1 per cent between the period of April 4 and 10, 2021. In addition, during this same period of time, Ontario has seen the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care increase from 494 to 605.

“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 rollout our COVID-19 vaccine plan.”  

With appropriate measures in place, the province says schools have been safe places for learning throughout the pandemic, as confirmed by the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local medical officers of health and have demonstrated low rates of in-school transmission. However, increasing rates of community spread pose a threat to the health and safety of school communities. As a result, all publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools in the province are to move to teacher-led remote learning when students return from the April break on April 19, 2021.

Private schools operating in-person this week are to transition to remote learning by April 15, 2021. This action is being taken in support of the Government’s broader efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. Data will be assessed on an ongoing basis and health officials will be consulted to determine when it will be safe to resume in-person learning.

Child care for non-school aged children to remain open

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 protect the most vulnerable, boards will make provisions for continued in-person support for students with special education needs who require additional support that cannot be accommodated through remote learning.

“This was not a decision we made lightly, as we know how critical schools are to Ontario students. Our priority has always been to keep schools open, however sharply rising community transmission can put our schools and Ontario families at risk,” said Minister Lecce. “While Ontario’s plan has kept schools safe, as confirmed by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, we are taking decisive and preventative action today to ensure students can safely return to learning in our schools.”

“We will communicate to parents based on the advice we receive from the Chief Medical Officer of Health (on when we can reopen schools). That is our intent, it just has to be safe and as soon as we get that go ahead from Dr. Williams and his colleagues we will make sure parents know with advanced notice,” said Lecce.

Case rates, hospitalizations, and ICU occupancy are increasing rapidly, threatening to overwhelm the health care system. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the province have increased by 22.1 per cent between the period of April 4 and 10, 2021. In addition, during this same period of time, Ontario has seen the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care increase from 494 to 605.

With students moving to remote learning, vaccine prioritization of education workers who provide direct support to students with special education needs across the province, and all education workers in select hot spot areas, starting with Peel and Toronto, will continue. Starting today, special education workers across the province and education workers in Peel and Toronto hot spots will be eligible to register for vaccination by calling the provincial vaccine booking line at 1‑833‑943‑3900. More information is available at Ontario.ca/covidvaccine.

Premier Ford also stressed it is critically important that as Ontarians receive the vaccine, everyone continues to wear a mask, maintain physical distancing when outside of their immediate household and frequently wash their hands. As well, continue to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested if symptoms are present.

“We must remain vigilant and give ourselves every chance to beat this pandemic,” said Premier Ford.

“As we continue to see rapid growth in community transmission across the province, it is necessary to take extra precautions and measures to ensure the continued health and safety of students, teachers and their families,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “As the fight against this third wave of the pandemic continues, everyone must continue following all public health and workplace safety measures and stay at home to prevent further transmission of the virus, so we can once again resume in person learning in our schools.”

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