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Schools closed until May (at least); new learning plan under way

Elementary and high schools will be closed until at least May, as the number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario continued to increase today to just under 2,000 across the province. There are seven lab confirmed cases in Hastings Prince Edward counties and Public Health estimates more than 200 ‘probable’ cases.

Publicly-funded schools have been closed since March 14 as ordered by the Ministry of Education. Private schools were also closed a few days later as part of the province’s emergency declaration.

Schools were initially set to re-open April 6, but Premier Doug Ford and Minister Stephen Lecce announced today the date was  not realistic.

“The decision to extend school closures was not made lightly. We know from the medical experts that the next two weeks will be critical in the fight against COVID-19 and that’s why we’re taking further action to keep our kids safe and healthy by having them stay home,” said Premier Ford. “At the same time, we cannot put the school year in jeopardy. That’s why we’re providing additional tools for at-home learning and ensuring students from kindergarten to Grade 12 to post-secondary education can finish their academic year and get the credits they need to graduate.”

They also announced phase two of the government’s Learn at Home initiative under way featuring a new set of expectations, including:

– Reconnecting students with teachers and other school staff, including mental health workers;
– Re-establishing teacher-led learning by grade groupings as follows:
– Kindergarten-Grade 3: five hours of work per student/week (focus on literacy and math)
– Grades 4-6: five hours of work per student/week (focus on literacy, math, science and social studies)
– Grades 7-8: 10 hours of work per student/week (focus on math, literacy, science and social studies)
– Grades 9-12: three hours of work per course per week for semestered students; 1.5 hours of work per course per week for non-semestered students (focus on achieving credits/completion/graduation)
– Leveraging digital resources and identifying alternative forms of teacher-student connectivity, such as phone and mail;
– Developing a program of training for educators to support them in virtual learning delivery;
– Requiring final report cards for all students;
– Prioritizing and supporting students on track to graduate;
– Distributing laptops and/or devices from schools as needed, while observing public health direction;
– Maintaining a responsive posture for health care and community partner requests; and
– Establishing formal COVID-19 working groups with education sector unions to work together, share ideas and to find solutions in the support of students.

The Hastings Prince Edward District School Board is maintaining a frequently-asked questions page on its website ( ) and will update it again following this announcment.

The government previously announced, “no student will have their graduation compromised by COVID-19 and the Ministry of Education continues to collaborate with the Ministry of Colleges and Universities to ensure that there will be no barriers to accessing post-secondary education.

The school board presently has two sources for online resources: HPEDSB Learning at Home resources ; and Ministry of Education resources through TVO/TFO – for voluntary use.

Filed Under: Local News

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