CP24 - Toronto News | Breaking News Headlines | Weather, Traffic, Sports
Kids not returning to school until September: Ontario Premier Doug Ford
Published Tuesday, May 19, 2020 5:48AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 19, 2020 3:52PM EDT
Ontario public school students will not be going back to school until September, Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday.
"We cannot open schools at this time – I am just not going to risk it," Ford said.
He said licenced childcare facilities may reopen when the province enters its Stage 2 of restarting the economy.
Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said report cards for the term will be issued for all students, and online learning is expected to continue through the summer.
Online learning over the summer will be optional.
He conceded the resumption of sectors of the economy while licenced childcare and schools remain closed “still creates challenges for parents.”
“While we recognize there are some obvious challenges because of health reality of this outbreak – what parents have asked us to do overwhelmingly is get right the safety of their daughters and sons,” Lecce said, adding at-home childcare has been allowed to run through the whole pandemic.
There is no firm word on when Ontario will enter Stage 2 of its reopening plan, having just entered Stage 1 on Tuesday.
Ford said officials want to see “consistency” in case growth data over at least two weeks before moving to the next stage.
Lecce said that when licenced childcare reopens, all centres will have to enact strict physical distancing.
He said no centre will be allowed to have more than 50 children, staff will be screened for temperature, and parents will have to drop off kids outdoors and not physically enter the centre.
Also, based on latest case growth information, overnight day camps will not be permitted to open this summer.
"We just can’t have camps with 500 kids living together right now," Ford said.
Initially schools were only supposed to be closed for two weeks following March Break but the closure was extended multiple times in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
Public health officials have previously said that were waiting for more information about how the respiratory illness spreads among children before making a decision about sending students back to school.
The premiers of some provinces, including Alberta and New Brunswick, have said that students will not return to the classroom for the rest of the academic year while others have opted to partially restart in-class instruction.
Classes resumed for some students in Quebec earlier this month and British Columbia has confirmed that schools will gradually reopen on a part-time basis starting on June 1.
In September, Lecce said teachers and administrators will have to “reimagine” schools so they embrace infection control protocol and physical distancing.