During today’s address to Ontario, Premier Doug Ford announced the cancellation of the school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The decision for the cancellation was made after consultation with the chief medical officer of health and other medical experts.
When addressing the cancellation, Ford said that the risk was too great when it came to reopening the schools and that the safety of the children was the top priority.
“We cannot open schools at this time… I’m just not going to risk it,” Ford said.
Continuing his address to the media, Ford also added that all education for the remainder of the year will continue online and that those who were going to graduate from high school will still be able to, and that report cards for students will be distributed.
Stephen Lecce, the Education Minister, went on to say that a full plan regarding the reopening of schools in the province will be released at the end of June.
He has also stated that the plan for September will include health measures that ensure students practice physical distancing at school and restrict their movements at school as well.
“It is obvious that schools will not look the same, that we will have to reimagine education in some respects in September given that there will have to be some protocol changes,” Lecce said regarding the future of schooling during this time.
According to a news release, the plan for September will also be “bolstered by an enhanced province-wide virtual learning program” so that students can continue to learn despite the challenges that can potentially come up in the next few months.
When asked by the media as to why Ford would not reopen schools in areas of Ontario that do not have a large number of cases, he said he did not want to take the potential risk.
“For a few weeks, it’s just not worth it”.
According to a statement made by the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, school boards are appreciative of the decision and direction being given by public health officials.
“We appreciate the government taking a measured and cautious approach to the return of in-class instruction that is guided by the advice of health officials, with input from school boards, educators, and staff”.
Other education centres also closed
In addition to the schools being closed for the time being, private schools, EarlyON programs, and licenced childcare centres are also going to remain closed.
Their closure was confirmed by a provincial news release from this morning, and their closure will remain throughout the first phase of the province’s reopening phase.
The news release states that “a gradual reopening of child care is expected to begin when the province is ready to transition to Stage 2 based on public health criteria, which will include robust safety protocols for the safety of Ontario’s youngest learners and their staff”.
In addition to these closures, Ford has also announced that Ontario’s overnight camps will also remain closed this summer, but as long as trends keep improving, day camps will be able to open, with strict public health measures in place.
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