March Break is officially being delayed in Ontario
March Break 2021 will be delayed across Ontario, Education Minister Stephen Lecce has announced, in an effort to halt the transmission of COVID-19 within schools.
Originally scheduled to take place from March 15- 19, the annual break for elementary and high school students is being pushed back this year by one month, until April.
"In support of our collective efforts to keep schools safe, we are postponing March break until April 12-16, 2021," said Lecce when announcing the highly-anticipated news on Thursday.
"This decision was made with the best advice of Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health officials, including consultations with many local Medical Officers of Health."
Following the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Ontario is postponing March Break until the week of April 12.— Stephen Lecce (@Sflecce) February 11, 2021
These decisions are never easy, but we know over the holidays cases spiked.
This will support our fight against #COVID19 & ensure schools remain open. pic.twitter.com/TACq9XBKkp
Many students in the province are only returning to school for the first time since all of Ontario was placed under lockdown on Boxing Day. Lecce says postponing the break will allow studies to continue uninterrupted for longer.
"I want to be clear: March Break is being postponed, not cancelled. To keep schools open, we must keep them free of COVID-19," said Lecce in a statement.
"The actions announced today serve to limit opportunities for congregation - while reaffirming the evidence that schools are safe for students."
"By continuing to follow public health advice, and by introducing additional safety measures and more testing, we are supporting our collective efforts to keep COVID-19 from entering our schools."
Answer appears to be no. Lecce didn’t really answer. It was a simple question. Word salad answers usually mean no. #onpoli #onted 2 sets of rules. 2 sets of people. We knew that already though - MPP travels to St Barts intended to stay for months, and to Switzerland. https://t.co/PXTDLX73u9— Colin MacKay (@coljmackay) February 11, 2021
Parents who've been waiting for this information are expressing mixed results online — some are lamenting that they'd already purchased flights, though it's unlikely current travel restrictions will change much within the next few weeks anyway.
Lecce reiterated this on Wednesday, noting that "Ontarians should refrain from travelling, particularly given the increase in new variants that pose a direct risk to our country."
When asked if the delay of March Break for students would also translate to the delay of a scheduled break for the Ontario Legislature in March, Lecce appeared a bit flummoxed and didn't offer a straight answer.
Many were displeased, as are teachers who've been pushing for March Break to move forward as scheduled for weeks.
Postponing #MarchBreak to April is another example of the Ford government and Education Minister making a unilateral decision for #onted that has no clear rationale or basis from experts. #onpoli https://t.co/yRLnpglavm— Elementary Educators (@ETFOeducators) February 11, 2021
"Breaks are important for mental health, physical health, economical reasons, productivity and much more. Taking them away can have devastating consequences to more than just mental health," reads one of several petitions signed by more than 22,000 people.
"Enough has been taken away from our children, teachers and education workers this year, don't take away, delay/postpone or change in any way their chance to relax and enjoy yet another yearly tradition."
Lecce stressed during his announcement that the break wouldn't be cancelled, only postponed, as a way to "limit opportunities for congregation," referencing a "concerning spike in youth-related cases over the winter break, when students and staff were out of schools for a prolonged period of time."
"These decisions - based on the advice of medical experts - are never easy," said Lecce, "but they are necessary to keep Ontario families safe."
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