Ontario’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce said schools do not need a prolonged winter break due to the rising numbers of COVID-19.
On Wednesday, Lecce released a statement saying after consulting with the Chief Medical Officer of Health as well as the Public Health Measures Table, extending the winter holiday “is not necessary at this time, given Ontario’s strong safety protocols, low levels of transmission, and safety within our schools.”
On Tuesday, Lecce said that he would let parents and families know in a week or two if the holiday break would be prolonged due to the rising cases of the virus.
“Ontario’s safe schools plan has worked to keep students safe from COVID-19 while allowing them to continue their learning journey and resume safe social interactions with their friends and classmates. As we continue to see increased rates of community transmission, our schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms,” the statement added.
My statement below following expert advice from the CMOH on the strength of Ontario’s plan to keep students safe. pic.twitter.com/0U8l4sl69Y
— Stephen Lecce (@Sflecce) November 18, 2020
Yesterday, when asked about the possible announcement Premier Doug Ford said that the Ontario back-to-school plan is working well so far.
“It’s working well. Out of the 4,828, we have one closed. The credit goes to teachers, principals, and school boards, and of course Minister Lecce,” Ford said.
He also added that the kids “love” being in school as they already had a long break.
“It’s good for mental health and gives the parents a bit of a break.”
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NDP Education critic Marit Stiles said that if the the province was considering lockdowns then the need to reduce the cap dsize for classes must also be addressed—this has been the biggest criticism of Ford and Lecce’s back-to-school plan.
Stiles noted that around 100 more students and faculty get sick with COVID-19 daily and one teacher has died.
“Andrea Horwath and the NDP believe the safest way to bring kids back after winter break is to bring them back into classes of no more than 15 kids, and on school busses that are no more than half full,” he said in a statement.
“In order to crush this virus, Doug Ford needs to stop withholding COVID-19 funding, and spend the money to stop the spread in schools.”
In the province, there are three school closures out of the 670 schools that are reporting.
Since September, there have been over 3,600 cases in Ontario schools.