Schools in Toronto, Ontario, will remain closed indefinitely to in-person learning as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the area.
On Monday, Premier Doug Ford made the announcement together with the Education Minister Stephen Lecce at Queen’s Park, consequently after a cabinet meeting earlier in the day.
Sources informed CTV News Toronto the verdict was made this weekend after the province announced a record-breaking number of COVID-19 cases and intensive care admissions.
Ford stated on Monday,
“We’re moving school online only after the April break, we will keep a constant eye on the data, on case numbers, hospital capacity, and ICU admissions to determine when we get kids back in the classrooms.”
“I want nothing more than to be able to open the schools up again as soon as possible. But we all need to work together right now to get the community spread under control.”
Private schools running in-person programs this week have been instructed to change to remote learning by April 15.
In regards to child care for non-school-aged kids, they will continue to run during the school closure. However, before and after school activities will be closed.
School-aged children of eligible health care and frontline workers will have access to free emergency child care during this period.
The administration stated school boards would make arrangements for continued in-person learning for special education needs students who need further support that cannot be tackled through remote learning.
The declaration to keep schools adjourned comes after Lecce previously presented a letter to parents insisting that schools would remain open even as the province faced a stay-at-home order.
On Monday, Lecce’s tune changed while addressing the legislature, stating that he was increasingly worried about the rise in COVID-19 cases.
Medicals experts in Peel, Toronto, and the Guelph area instructed schools to close due to increasing COVID-19 cases last week.
They noted that the current rise no longer permitted them to trace cases properly in school surroundings.
Ontario Experiencing ‘Impact of Easter Weekend’
Dr. David Williams, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, observed Ontario’s rise in COVID-19 cases is being affected by gatherings on Easter weekend.
Williams stated he wants to comprehend the overall impact Easter gatherings will have on COVID-19 case numbers before allowing students back to class.
The Chief Medical Officer said,
“We are not expecting the numbers to improve that well over the next few days as we’re seeing the impact of Easter weekend, and we want to understand that before we make any further decisions.”
“Prolonged closure at this time is not only but prudent and necessary.”
On Monday, the NDP Leader, Andrea Horwath, said it is “unbelievable” how tough the school closure will be for parents in the area.
“We all know Doug Ford walked us right into this school shutdown with his eyes wide open,” Horwath noted. “We knew this was coming.”
“People feel like the province is dissolving into chaos.”
The NDP Leader admitted that some type of third wave was unavoidable for Ontario but stated its extent was “very much avoidable.”
“The government literally ignored the advice of their experts.”
In the meantime, the Liberals are asking for Lecce to be dismissed over his management of the situation.
The Liberal Leader Stephen Del Duca noted in a statement,
“Just yesterday, Minister Lecce wrote to parents telling them that all publicly funded schools would remain open after the April Break.”
“One day later, Doug Ford is closing them for weeks. The in-fighting between Doug Ford and his education minister is putting our children and education workers at risk, and Lecce should be fired for it.”
Government data shows 1,302 of 4,828 Ontario’s publicly funded schools now have a case of COVID-19.