Ontario schools won't reopen for in-person learning until next fall
As expected, Ontario Premier Doug Ford confirmed during an announcement at Queen's Park on Wednesday afternoon that students will not be going back to school in person before the summer break.
"To best protect Ontario families from the fast growing B.1.617.2 variant, and to allow for higher rates of vaccination of students, staff, and families, the Ontario government has made the difficult decision to continue with remote learning for all elementary and secondary students across the province for the remainder of this school year," announced the government.
"This will allow the province to continue its focus on accelerating COVID-19 vaccinations to support a safer summer and return to in-person learning in September for the 2021-22 school year."
Speaking alongside Minister of Education Stephen Lecce and Health Minister Chrstine Elliott, Ford explained that he wasn't confident enough in what he heard from experts that schools could open safely, without a new spike in cases of COVID-19.
"At a time when our top priority is putting the third wave behind us so that we can safely enter Step One of our Roadmap to Reopen, we can't risk increased cases and potential downstream impacts on hospitals and ICUs," said the premier.
"Making this tough decision now will allow kids to safely enjoy camps and outdoor activities this summer, and a safe return to school in September."
According to Ford, the government's Science Advisory Table found that reopening schools to in-person learning could result in an increase of six to 11 per cent in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases.
"While this decision was not made lightly, it has been done with one aim: protect the summer for families and deliver a stable and safe September for students," said Lecce.
"We are looking forward and taking action by getting all education workers and students vaccinated with both doses ahead of September, while investing an additional $2 billion to ensure students and staff are safe."
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