Ontario schools will not reopen April 6, premier says
TORONTO -- Premier Doug Ford says students across the province will not be returning to school on April 6, as the province first hoped, acknowledging that the scheduled back-to-school date is unrealistic.
Days before declaring a state of emergency, the Ontario government announced 5,000 publicly-funded schools in the province would be closed for two weeks ensuring two million students don’t mingle in the middle of a pandemic.
While the province initially said that students would spend an additional two weeks away from the classroom during an extended March Break, Ford acknowledged on Monday that COVID-19 expands that timeline.
“The reality is April 6 is not realistic right now,” Ford said during a news conference at Queen’s Park. “We’re in a state of emergency.”
“Our priority is making sure our kids are safe, that’s our number one priority.”
The Progressive Conservative government unveiled new tools last week designed to help parents home-school their children during the closures.
Elementary students will be offered a suite of educational programming on Television Ontario (TVO) including shows that teach mathematics, science and language.
High school students have access to an online learning portal that includes applied and academic courses to avoid what the government calls "learning loss."
The government originally said that any decision to close schools beyond April 6 would be made based on the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams.
“We are currently seeking the advice of Dr. Williams on how long the closure of publicly funded schools should continue,” Alex Adamo, a spokesperson for the ministry of education, said.
“The minister has been clear our government will take immediate action to ensure the safety of students and staff, and is preparing for all scenarios.”
While Ford’s comments were prompted by questions from the media during a news conference, it's unclear whether he received advice to extend school closures from public health officials.
Ford did not say when students can plan to return to school.