Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that they have decided to move elementary and secondary schools to remote learning following the April break.
"This move has been made in response to the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, the increasing risks posed to the public by COVID-19 variants, and the massive spike in hospital admissions," a statement released by the province states.
Details were provided on Monday by Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce, and others from Queen's Park.
"We are seeing a rapidly deteriorating situation with a record number of COVID cases and hospital admissions threatening to overwhelm our health care system," said Premier Ford. "As I have always said we will do whatever it takes to ensure everyone stays safe. 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."
"This was not a decision we made lightly, as we know how critical schools are to Ontario students. Our priority has always been to keep schools open, however sharply rising community transmission can put our schools and Ontario families at risk," said Minister Lecce. "While Ontario's plan has kept schools safe, as confirmed by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, we are taking decisive and preventative action today to ensure students can safely return to learning in our schools."
Prior to April break, more than 99 per cent of students and staff did not have a current case of COVID-19. Since September, 99.2 per cent of students and 98.6 per cent of staff never reported a COVID-19 case, data released by the Ontario government states.
"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 Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams. "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."
With students moving to remote learning, vaccine prioritization of education workers who provide direct support to students with special education needs across the province, and all education workers in select hot spot areas, starting with Peel and Toronto, will continue, the statement reads.