TORONTO -- Students at Ontario public schools will not be returning to the classroom in early May, Premier Doug Ford confirmed on Tuesday, as the province continues to battle the spread of COVID-19.

The provincial government initially planned to reopen schools on May 1 for teachers and May 4 for students, and suggested that any further closures would be up to the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Speaking at his daily news conference held at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, Ford said students will not be returning to school as planned in light of the provincial extension of the state of emergency until May 12.

While Ford stressed that his government isn’t cancelling the school year entirely, he did not provide a potential date when students could return to the classroom.

“The Minister of Education will be out over the next couple of days,” Ford said.

Over the weekend, Education Minister Stephen Lecce acknowledged that this uncertainty may be causing anxiety for all those involved.

“We’re seeking the advice of Dr. Williams, the Chief Medical Officer of Health,” Lecce said. “He will guide our decision, but I want to affirm to you that as soon as I receive it, I will be communicating it.”

At the end of March, the province unveiled its new distance learning tools for teachers and students to use during the closure.

The government made it clear at the time that no student would have their graduation compromised due to the current situation, stating that the Ministry of Education continue to work with the Ministry of Colleges and Universities to ensure there are no barriers when it comes to accessing post-secondary education.

Private schools, as well as licensed childcare centres, will also remain closed until May 12, in accordance with Ontario’s state of emergency declaration.