#OntarioSchoolsClosure; #COVID19Pandemic; #OntarioHealth; #OntarioEducation
Ottawa, May 19 (Canadian-Media): Decision to cancel all in-person learning for the school year because of the COVID-19 pandemic was announced Tuesday by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, media reports said.
Doug Ford. Image credit: Twitter handle
"The safety of our children is my top priority," Ford said.
The decision was made after province's consultation with the chief medical officer of health and medical experts.
427 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Ontario Tuesday morning by Ontario's Ministry of Health, a 1.9 percent increase, that brought the provincial total to 23,384 since the outbreak began in late January.
The growth rate in new daily cases was revealed to be slightly higher than those seen over the last several weeks.
"We cannot open schools at this time," Ford said. "I'm just not going to risk it."
The province said that all students who were on track to graduate from high school before schools were shuttered in March will be able to graduate, and all students will receive report cards.
Ontario's Education Minister Stephen Lecce said a full plan for reopening the province's schools in September, including physical distancing and restriction of movement of students at school, will be released by the end of June.
Stephen Lecce. Image credit: Twitter handle
"It is obvious that schools will not look the same, that we will have to reimagine education in some respects in September given that there will have to be some protocol changes," Lecce said.
A plan to enhance province-wide virtual learning program, was also announced by the province, to enable all students to learn, regardless of the challenges that may arise in the coming months.
The Ontario Public School Boards' Association also appreciated the decision of a measured and cautious approach to the return of in-class instruction guided by the advice of health officials, with input from school boards, educators and staff.