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Schools move to online learning following spring break

Elementary and secondary school learning will move to online-only following this week’s spring break, as COVID-19 cases continue to soar in the province.

A return date for in-school learning has not been set. Making the announcement Monday afternoon, Premier Doug Ford said officials will keep an eye on data and trends before allowing a return to schools.

Child care for non-school aged children will remain open; before and after school programs will be closed and free emergency child care for the school-aged children of eligible health care and frontline workers will be provided.

The move is in response to a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases – one Ford says experts tell him has not yet reached peak – along with increasing risks posed by variants and a spike in hospital admissions. The province recorded 4,401 new cases. Hastings Prince Edward region has recorded double-digit new cases daily since March 31. There were 17 new cases today, making an active total of 160.

The government has so far declared schools safe place due to low rates of in-school transmission. Education Minister Stephen Lecce issued a letter to parents yesterday stating schools would remain open after break, but said Monday afternoon, it was more a plan in place and that he’s grown increasingly concerned about the sharp rise in infections.

The government’s website reports 217 new COVID-19 cases in schools (school related students and staff) across the province. There have been 2,629 cases reported in the past 14 days. About 27 per cent of the province’s schools have at least one case.

For Hastings Prince Edward today, there were 19 recent cases listed for Belleville, Quinte West and Marmora schools and two cases linked to an outbreak on a school bus. There are 10 cases attributed to an outbreak at a Belleville child care centre.

“As I have always said we will do whatever it takes to ensure everyone stays safe,” said Ford. “By keeping kids home longer after spring break we will limit community transmission, take pressure off our hospitals and allow more time to rollout our COVID-19 vaccine plan.”

Ontario currently has 1,646 people in hospital, with 619 patients in ICU, with 408 on a ventilator. Based on the latest modelling data, Ford said cases across the province are continuing to grow and the number of people requiring an intensive care bed is projected to rise to approximately 800 people within the next 10 days.

“As we continue to see rapid growth in community transmission across the province, it is necessary to take extra precautions and measures to ensure the continued health and safety of students, teachers and their families,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “As the fight against this third wave of the pandemic continues, everyone must continue following all public health and workplace safety measures and stay at home to prevent further transmission of the virus, so we can once again resume in person learning in our schools.”




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