Premier Ford announced today that he will not risk delaying his summer reopening plans for 3 or 4 weeks of school. In person classes will not resume until September this year. Ford admitted that he had received advice from the science experts urging in most cases a return to classes in June.
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.
Ford had said in the past that an uptick in cases would 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 ensure students and staff are safe.”
The government news release says there will be additional mental health supports available to students experiencing difficulty as a result of todays decision.