‘Indefensible’: Stephen Lecce rips WRDSB move to close schools for eclipse

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce speaks to journalists at the Queen's Park Legislature in Toronto, on Friday August 25, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Education Minister Stephen Lecce says that the Waterloo Region District School Board should reconsider its move to close its schools on Monday due to the solar eclipse.

“It is not only indefensible to send kids home just days ahead of time, but it is insult to injury to do so without ensuring live access to their educator,” Lecce said in a statement. “The board ought to reconsider this decision.”

On Wednesday, the WRDSB left parents scrambling when it announced the move to close schools to students while offering asynchronously learning to students.

“It is entirely unacceptable for school boards to drop this on parents only days ahead of time,” Lecce stated. “I have shared my expectations with school boards across Ontario – that children are to be in school and in front of their educators.”

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

The move came as an about-face. On March 6 the board issued a release that said schools would remain open.

Story continues below advertisement

Dozens of other boards across the province had announced that they were shifting PD Days to Monday in an effort to protect students who would be headed home during the eclipse.

Among those making the switch was the Waterloo Catholic District School Board. In February the Catholic board announced that a PD Day was moving from April 19 to Monday.

The WRDSB has a PD Day scheduled for next Wednesday which will remain untouched by the move.

The public board says it made the change after listening to concerns from parents and staff about the eclipse.

“Concerns for student safety have always been at the forefront of the decision-making for this day,” a release from the school read. “The initial decision to have a regular school day was one we felt was possible, given the safety protocols we were prepared to implement. This would have allowed for an exciting once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity.”

On Friday, the board issued a release saying that teachers “will be present at their worksites and will engage in school learning and improvement planning.”

They noted that staff will spend time on achievement, pathways and transitions and filling out the WRDSB workforce census.

Sponsored content