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Students to finish school year remotely; small, short graduation ceremonies allowed

The Ontario government has decided to continue with remote learning for all elementary and secondary students across the province for the remainder of this school year – but will allow small, short, graduation ceremony gatherings.

With continued focus on COVID-19 vaccinations, the province hopes to return to in-person learning in September for the 2021-22 school year.

Schools will continue to remain open for in-person learning for special education students who cannot be accommodated through remote learning until the end of June.

The government will allow school boards to invite graduating students in elementary schools (by class) and secondary schools (by homeroom/quadmestered class) to return to school in June for a short, outdoor graduation celebration, where physical distancing is possible.

Child care for non-school aged children (i.e. children aged 0-4) will remain open. This includes child care offered in licensed child care centres, and in home-based settings.

Licensed child care centres may resume serving school-aged children for full-days in programming over the summer months. Those before and after school programs that operate as a camp over the summer will be permitted to do so.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, with Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“At a time when our top priority is putting the third wave behind us so that we can safely enter Step One of our Roadmap to Reopen, we can’t risk increased cases and potential downstream impacts on hospitals and ICUs,” said Ford. “Making this tough decision now will allow kids to safely enjoy camps and outdoor activities this summer, and a safe return to school in September.”

Recent modelling presented by the Science Advisory Table revealed that if Ontario reopened schools to in-person learning the province could see an increase of six to 11 per cent in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases. It is unknown how many of these would be the new, more dangerous B.1.617.2 variant first identified in India, which has entered the province through Canada’s borders.

An increase in cases and the spread of variants would also threaten Ontarians’ hard-fought progress in beating the third wave and could delay the safe return to many summer activities for kids, including day and overnight camps, sports leagues and public pools, among other important activities that support children’s physical and mental wellbeing.

“While this decision was not made lightly, it has been done with one aim: protect the summer for families and deliver a stable and safe September for students,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “We are looking forward and taking action by getting all education workers and students vaccinated with both doses ahead of September, while investing an additional $2 billion to help ensure students and staff are safe.”

 

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  1. Chuck says:

    The Delta Variant is 30% stronger in transmission and full vaccination is required to fend it off. It attacks the young as well with severe outcomes. A couple weeks of in class school would be a foolish risk.

  2. Bruce Nicholson says:

    We are not living in fear ! We have been taking precautionary steps along the way for over a year to control the spread of this virus.
    The remote learning topic of this article appears to supported by the majority of respondents.

  3. Dennis Fox says:

    People need to stop living in fear and start thinking about our reality. At no time has anyone said that COVID isn’t to be taken seriously – but we need to still live. Doug Ford is not a particularly intelligent man, simply because he does not listen to his own medical experts and would rather place trust in an 8 year old kid’s opinion. As odd as this sounds – it is fact. It is time for decisions affecting all of us to be looked at carefully – the unnecessary fear being spread about these variants needs to stop.

    Link below to the Hastings Prince Edward Public Health dashboard. Again not to be taken lightly, but certainly it shows that there is no need to stop our kids from attending school. https://hpepublichealth.ca/covid-19-cases/

  4. Gary says:

    With the Delta Variant rising threat throughout the Province no one should question Ford’s call on this one.

  5. Emily says:

    Think positive not critical. Premier Ford is striving to get us out of this safely.

  6. Dennis Fox says:

    Ford’s call “might” have been the right one for Toronto or Peel, but not for every region across the province, as his experts have told him. Look at our own area – the HPE and Northumberland Public Health for 4 days in a row reported NO new cases and having only 4 in hospital! Ford’s decision is a ridiculous one for most areas – there is no reason for kids to miss a month of in school time to spend with their friends and teachers. He is only trying to show he has the power.

    BTW – did you read how Ford issued a directive to the school boards to have outdoor graduation ceremonies? Which is in direct conflict with what the boards and the province agreed to months ago. Yup, good old “Buck a Beer” Doug got the idea from a neighbourhood 8 year old kid named Arthur – Doug though it was a good idea and without any consultation issued this directive – fortunately the Boards and Principal’s Council told him where to put it! This is how decisions are made in Ontario – without absolutely no thinking!

  7. Bruce Nicholson says:

    Ford has been criticized for not taking restrictive measures to curb the spread of the virus. This is the correct decision at this time. Typically, June is a relaxed month for in-school education. Resumption of in-class instruction is not worth the risk of further spread.
    Hopefully, summer outdoor activities will resume in a somewhat normal fashion benefiting children’s mental health.

  8. Dennis Fox says:

    Please check with the HPEC Public Health site – no new cases and the number in hospital number under 10 for the entire area! Stop acting frightened – place some trust in the medical experts – this is how FORD get away with his half baked ideas – he doesn’t check with any experts – but with only business people. Our kids deserve better than this and they need adults to start fight for them!

  9. Gary says:

    Premier Ford made the right call. He cares.

  10. angela says:

    I agree, Susan. It is not worth the risk for a month. Our kids would be cheated in a far worse way of any of them were to contract COVID.

  11. ADJ says:

    I agree with the Provincial decision on this issue.First, to get the school system up and humming again will take a few days and then there’s the extra staff to keep the school open for how many days, organize the bus routes again, cleaning staff will be called on for overtime…all this for a few days of class. Will the students and staff be required to mask up for the entire day? Inside school classroom temps will be in the 80*F range in the upcoming weeks. Lets not keep flogging the political parties….we voted them in so deal with it.Press your political points prior to the next election.

  12. Michelle says:

    There are no patios open to have a drink on in the County.

  13. Dennis Fox says:

    I beg to differ too – the Science Advisory Table and Public Health Officials all stated that Ontario could reopen schools on a regional bases – the idea of one shoe fits all was not how to approach this. Once again, Ford ignored the advice and does what he wants. By his measure it is OK for people from Peel to drive here and to drink on our patios, but our kids in PEC can’t go to school for fear of the “Delta Variant” – really?. Our public health area has one of the lowest rates in the province – treating us in the same way Peel is doesn’t make any sense – except for Ford and his supporters.

  14. Susan says:

    I beg to differ. Ontario is faced with the India Delta Variant that could easily send us into a deadly 4th wave. A couple of weeks in school is not worth the chance at this point. A sound decision. If you doubt listen to the Medical Officer of Health in Peel.

  15. Dennis Fox says:

    Once again, our provincial government got it wrong! Ontario is the only province in Canada not having students in class during the month of June. As the public health depts. and Ford’s own Science Advisory Table recommended – the kids should go back to school at this time. Ford once again ignored all advice re: education and our kids – but he did open up patios for drinking! At some point his government will have to answer for the billion dollar cut to education and another billion to the health care/public health system – all done during a pandemic! So much for “having our backs and sparing no expense to fight COVID!” Our kids are being cheated out of their school year of finishing with in class learning – all to help Doug balance hos budget.

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