All schools in the Peel Region will close for two weeks to curb COVID-19 spread.
The closure affecting students in Brampton, Caledon, and Mississauga begins on Tuesday, April 6. They won’t be back in class until April 18.
“This closure is a necessary step to protect staff and students in Peel Region,” Peel’s medical officer of health Dr. Lawrence Loh said in a statement. “With increasing case counts and the presence of variants of concern, we need to break chains of transmission and keep our schools safe.”
The transition to online learning on short notice will be challenging for parents to navigate, Loh acknowledged. But he thanked them for their efforts in fighting COVID-19.
April spring break camps for children will also be cancelled, and students who attend Peel’s schools will also not be able to go to their usual after or before school care.
The local health authority made this regional order under Section 22 of Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced last week that Ontario schools would remain open for in-class learning after the scheduled April spring break, despite calls from teachers’ unions that continuing to work unvaccinated in classrooms is too risky.
Peel made the decision after seeing a “significant increase” in COVID-19 case counts and variant of concern spread last week and over the Easter long weekend.
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School disruptions have serious impacts on children, and according to Ontario’s latest COVID-19 modelling students who are already disadvantaged have been disproportionately impacted by virus-related school closures.
Schools should be the last to close and the first to open in a pandemic situation, Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, told reporters last week.
A union representing Ontario elementary teachers agrees that in-class learning is best for children, but said the government is not doing enough to make schools safe. The union is demanding that teachers be moved higher up the list for vaccination, the province purchase N95 masks for schools, and class sizes be reduced to facilitate physical distancing.
As for the Peel school closure, students will stay home for at least two weeks. But that may be extended if COVID-19 indicators don’t improve, the regional health authority said.
As of April 1, 63 Ontario schools were closed due to COVID-19, with 1,240 schools currently reporting at least one case.