All Ontario public schools to close for two weeks amid coronavirus outbreak
In an unprecedented move, the Ontario government has directed all publicly funded schools in the province to close for two weeks following March Break in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government just announced that all public elementary and secondary schools will close from March 23 to April 6 on the advice of Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams.
Based on latest available advice from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, and the experts at the #COVID19 Command Table, our government has directed all publicly funded schools in Ontario to close for 2 weeks following March break.— Doug Ford (@fordnation) March 12, 2020
The school closure will affect more than 4,800 schools and two million students in the province.
Ontario issued a statement earlier today informing the public of the decision.
"Based on advice from Dr. David Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health and the experts at the COVID-19 Command Table, the Minister of Education has issued a Ministerial Order to close all publicly funded schools in Ontario for two weeks following March break, in response to the emergence in Ontario of COVID-19. This order was approved by the Lieutenant Governor in Council," the statement reads.
"We recognize the significant impact this decision will have on families, students, schools, as well as the broader community, but this precaution is necessary to keep people safe."
Hours before the school closure announcement, Premier Doug Ford told families to go out and enjoy March break despite the worsening situation.
"It can change at any day. But I just want the families and their children to have a good time," he said.
"Go away, have a good time, enjoy yourself, and we're going to be monitoring the situation as it changes every single day. But I just want them to enjoy themselves just now."
So far, Laurentian University is the only post-secondary institution in the province to announce a closure, but students from other universities are hoping theirs will soon follow suit.
The university has been monitoring the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) and as a precaution, we have determined that all classes as of 12:00 PM today, March 11 will be suspended. As of tomorrow March 12, all classes will now be moved to online delivery until further notice.— Laurentian University (@LaurentianU) March 11, 2020
"Today's steps build on a number of actions our government has taken in recent days to respond to COVID-19, including moving forward with additional public health measures, which include enhanced access to screening, expanding lab-testing capacity, and implementing new initiatives to keep the public and frontline workers safe," the government's statement notes.
"We are further setting aside up to $100 million in contingency funding in the upcoming 2020 budget to address challenges related to COVID-19," the statement continues.
"Our public health system has demonstrated remarkable responsiveness to COVID-19 and these measures we are putting in place will ensure that we continue to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario and thereby protect children and families across the province."
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