Ontario announces schools will remain closed amid COVID-19 pandemic
At a May 19 press conference, Ontario Premier Doug Ford discussed additional measures to help cope with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and announced that schools across the province will remain closed for the remainder of the school year.
Today’s announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education.
The province of Ontario announced today (May 19) that in order to protect the health and safety of students during the COVID-19 pandemic, schools will remain closed for the rest of this school year.
While the decision was made after consulting with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, health experts on the COVID-19 Command Table and medical experts at The Hospital for Sick Children, the government is planning the reopening of schools for the 2020-21 school year.
The province is also planning for the gradual reopening of child care and the opening of summer day camps, subject to the continuing progress in trends of key public health indicators.
“Nothing is more important than protecting our kids in this province, bar none over anything,” said Premier Ford.
“Today’s announcement gives parents certainty, knowing that their children can continue to learn safely at home and that we have a plan for child care as we work to gradually reopen more of our economy when it is safe to do so.”
All students will receive report cards and those who were on track to graduate from secondary school before the initial school closure order was made in March will be able to graduate.
The government will announce a plan to strengthen learning and safety protocols later this summer to enable students and staff to return to in-class instruction for the 2020-21 school year.
That plan will be supported by an enhanced province-wide virtual learning program that will allow all students to learn, regardless of the challenges that may come up in the next few months.
Private schools, licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs will also remain closed for the safety and protection of children, families and staff through Stage 1 of the Framework for Reopening the Province.
Emergency child care will continue to operate and provide support for health care and other frontline workers.
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.
“We will never waver from our commitment to keep your child safe, while learning at home,” said Minister Lecce.
“Our plan will ensure students receive the best educational experience, both inside and outside the classroom, during this difficult time. That is why we are strengthening summer learning opportunities, reopening summer day camps, and it is why we will continue to make the case for synchronous, live, and dynamic learning.”
In July and August of this year, assuming trends in key public health indicators continue to improve, indoor and outdoor summer day camps may be permitted with strict health and safety guidelines to be developed in partnership with local public health, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and municipalities.
Overnight camps will not be permitted to operate in the summer of 2020.
The province of Ontario also revealed an expanded seven-point summer learning plan to ensure students have all opportunities to continue learning throughout the summer months.
Summer learning programs will also be expanded to reach the most students in Ontario history.
This will be done to ensure they remain on track to start the 2020-21 school year with the confidence and knowledge they need to succeed.
The government is also leveraging all tools, resources, technologies and services to assist school boards to deliver learning through access to technology and internet connectivity, especially for students in rural parts of the province, to support at-home learning.
Additionally, the province of Ontario is partnering with 34 organizations and private businesses and school boards to address key needs among educators, students and their families during the COVID-19 outbreak to help improve access to remote learning.
The province of Ontario also recently announced that it will extend its current emergency orders until May 29, 2020.
The orders, extended in consultation with the province’s Medical Officer of Health, include the closure of bars and restaurants (takeout and delivery are still permitted), restrictions on social gatherings of more than five people, and staff redeployment rules for long-term care homes and congregate settings like retirement homes and women's shelters.
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