Ontario’s education minister has extended COVID-19 public school closures until May 31.
In an announcement Sunday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said schools would not re-open before June in order to prevent coronavirus spread.
“We will do whatever it takes to keep our students safe,” Lecce said in a news release. “The government is taking a careful approach which provides our medical experts the time to review the modelling and make the best decision for the safety of our students and the future of learning.”
Ontario ordered public schools to remain closed after their March breaks, originally just for two weeks. But as the pandemic continues, school closures have been extended. Ontario was the first Canadian province to cancel in-person classes at its public schools.
Lecce made the decision to extend school closures through the month of May on advice from public health experts. He wants to wait for more modelling data to inform next steps, the government release said.
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Teachers have continued guiding students through the curriculum from home. However, students who already come from disadvantaged backgrounds could be left further behind compared to their peers the longer school closures continue.
The Ontario government says it is helping by having schools purchase iPads equipped with an internet connection for students whose families don’t have internet access at home.
“Regardless of what transpires over the coming weeks, Ontario’s students will be able to complete their school year with confidence,” Lecce said. “In particular, for students in their final year, we are removing all impediments to ensure students graduate and pursue post-secondary education.”