Ontario’s schools will remain closed and move to remote learning after the April spring break to slow COVID-19 spread, Premier Doug Ford announced Monday.
Ford made the announcement about Ontario’s schools alongside Education Minister Stephen Lecce at Queen’s Park Monday afternoon.
According to the province, this move has been made in response to the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, the increasing risks posed to the public by COVID-19 variants, and the massive spike in hospital admissions.
During his press conference, Ford said COVID-19 is “spreading like wildfire.”
“We are seeing a rapidly deteriorating situation with a record number of COVID cases and hospital admissions threatening to overwhelm our healthcare system,” said 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.”
There is currently no return date for students.
“I think it’s well-known that we want kids to be in school,” Lecce said, adding he hopes to welcome students back once it’s safe again.
Daycares for children too young to go to school will remain open, but before- and after-school programs for school-aged children will be cancelled.
Teachers who live or work in certain hotspot postal codes are eligible for their COVID-19 vaccine, and the government hopes many will be able to book an appointment over the April break.
Officials said they’ll expand school staff vaccination initiatives to more postal codes as supply allows.
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Ontario is currently under a four-week-long Stay-at-Home order, and initially allowed most schools in the province to remain open. Public health authorities in Toronto and Peel decided last week to close schools for two weeks due to rising COVID-19 cases.
Ontario schools reported 217 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours. Of those, 186 are student cases.
Ontario broke its daily COVID-19 case record over the weekend with 4,456 cases on Sunday. Another 4,401 new infections were discovered on Monday.