The closure of Ontario’s publicly-funded schools has been extended to the end of May amid the coronavirus pandemic, the province’s education minister has announced.
“We will do whatever it takes to keep our students safe,” Stephen Lecce said in a statement Sunday.
“The government is taking a careful approach which provides our medical experts the time to review the modelling and make the best decision for the safety of our students and the future of learning.”
Should schools be allowed to open, employees will have access as of May 29.
In a press conference Sunday, Lecce said further decisions regarding the school year will be determined with updated COVID-19 modelling in the coming weeks. He said the next time he makes an announcement, he will provide “final predictability” on the school year.
He said if there is the possibility of saving part of in-person learning beyond May 31, the government “will consider” doing it.
Lecce said there currently isn’t a need to extend the school year into the summer.
As part of the announcement Sunday, all remaining PA days and exam days will be replaced with instructional time. The government also announced an “expanded summer learning program” focused on credit recovery, course upgrading, and supports for vulnerable students.
Premier Doug Ford previously said schools would remain closed past May 4 — which is when the closure was last extended to — but provided little details at the time.
The Ford government has implemented a learn from home program while schools remain closed, and officials have said students will be able to complete the year and obtain credits.
Meanwhile, private schools in the province are currently slated to remain closed until May 6, as the closure of those facilities falls under the province’s emergency orders, while the public school closure is implemented through the Education Act.
Ontario reported 437 new coronavirus cases Sunday morning, the lowest case increase since April 13. Twenty-four deaths were also reported.