Toronto issues new order to close all education settings to in-person learning
The outside of Regal Road Public School in Toronto is photographed on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
TORONTO -- Toronto has issued a new section 22 order to ensure all education settings are closed to in-person learning in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The order, which was released on Thursday evening, will go into effect on May 10.
According to a news release, the order is meant to “enhance the provincial lockdown regulation,” which has shuttered all in-class learning in schools as defined in the Education Act.
The order applies to all educational settings including independent schools, officials said, and “not just schools within the meaning of the Education Act.”
There are similar exceptions as the provincial order in regards to child-care and in-person learning for students with special needs.
In a supplementary document, the city clarifies that the provincial school closure only applies to in-person instruction and “does not prohibit school-aged children from attending school premises for purposes other than ‘teaching or instruction.’” The section 22 order issued by the city, officials say, will prevent children from entering the premises and congregating indoors for extended periods on a regular basis.
It does not apply to the use of outdoor amenities that remain open under provincial order.
Anyone not following the order can be fined $750 plus court fees and could be charged under the Provincial Offences Act. If convicted, a maximum fine of $5,000 for individuals and $25,000 for corporations could be issued for every day or part of a day on which the offence occurs.
Over the last few days, questions have circulated about whether some schools may be opening their doors by skirting the gatherings rules.
On Monday, Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said that investigations are underway after some religious schools appeared to be operating. Very few details were provided regarding how many investigations were taking place.
“There are some investigations that are happening right now, courtesy of the team at Toronto Public Health,” de Villa said at the time. . “These are complex situations as you can well understand. With many of these investigations one does need to look into the specifics of what's happening within the context of the school or the facility, understand whether there are applicable exemptions, and then make appropriate determinations.”
“We are absolutely working on this amongst many other aspects of the COVID-19 response and certainly if there are actions that we can take and should take in the interest of public health that are in keeping with our authorities, you can rest assured that we will take those up.”
Schools across Ontario were ordered to close to in-person learning on April 15 and have yet to be given any indication of when they may reopen.
Religious services are allowed to operate under the Reopening Ontario Regulation with up to 10 people.