Ontario schools will not reopen for the rest of the academic year
At long last, parents, teachers and students have an answer to the high-stakes question they've been asking provincial officials since March: NO, kids will not be going back to the classroom this school year.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the news during his daily pandemic press conference on Tuesday afternoon, stating that "We cannot open schools at this time. I'm just not going to risk it."
All in-person lessons at public schools across the province are cancelled for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year, though government officials say students will still receive report cards.
"All students who were on track to graduate from secondary school before the initial school closure order was made in March will be able to graduate," reads a news release announcing the decision, issued Tuesday afternoon.
"This 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."
Premier Ford Provides a COVID-19 Update https://t.co/y1rsPdS9LB— Doug Ford (@fordnation) May 19, 2020
As for September, the government says it is "planning for the reopening of schools for the 2020-21 school year" as well as the gradual reopening of all child care facilities (but only if we continue to see new cases of COVID-19 go down.)
Schools will operate quite a bit differently when they do reopen. Details of the government's plan to "strengthen learning and safety protocols" for next year are set to be released later this summer.
Until then, the province says it is enhancing its virtual learning program so that students can be equipped with the knowledge and confidence they need headed into a new grade.
A newly-expanded, seven-point summer learning plan will purportedly "ensure Ontario students have every opportunity to continue their learning through the summer months."
Official Announcement: Ontario’s publicly-funded schools will remain closed until the end of June. This decision was made based on advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the provincial COVID-19 Command Table. https://t.co/f8hzJwzxle pic.twitter.com/nblD0Ktttq— Education Ontario (@ONeducation) May 19, 2020
"We will never waver from our commitment to keep your child safe, while learning at home," said Education Minister Stephen Lecce on Tuesday of the program.
"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."
As yes, camps! Should the battle against COVID-19 continue successfully, Ford and Lecce say that summer day camps may be permitted to continue in July and August (under strict conditions to allow for physical distancing, obviously). Overnight camps, however, will not be permitted to operate anywhere in Ontario this summer.
"Nothing is more important than protecting our kids in this province, bar none over anything," said Ford of the measures announced today.
"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."
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