TORONTO/CORNWALL – Elementary and secondary school students will have to wait one extra month before getting a week off from school. Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced this afternoon that March Break is postponed until the week of April 12-16.
Lecce told reporters at Queen’s Park that the decision was made on the advice of public health officials.
“Many students have been learning remotely since the start of 2021,” he said. “It is critical we follow public health advice to protect schools and avoid a repeat of the concerning spike in youth-related cases over the winter break, when students and staff were out of schools for a prolonged period of time. We are taking this precaution based on advice from health experts, including the province’s Science Table and the Chief Medical Officer of Health, to help protect against the emerging COVID-19 variants of concern.”
Lecce said that the decision was made in consultation with Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and many health unit Medical Officers of Health.
Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, MOH for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit said last week he was in favour of postponing the break.
Lecce reiterated that March Break was being postponed, not cancelled.
“To keep schools open, we must keep them free of COVID-19,” he said. “By continuing to follow public health advice, and by introducing additional safety measures and more testing, we are supporting our collective efforts to keep COVID-19 from entering our schools.”
Ministry official began consulting with school boards, unions, trustee associations and other officials as early as February 2nd in preparation for this decision.
The province’s Science Table and Ministry of Health projections of a possible third wave of COVID-19 cases, propelled new virus strains from the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil, would hit the same week as the originally scheduled March 15-19 break.
The minister said that postponing the one week break was to limit opportunities to get together outside of the school environment.
COVID-19 cases skyrocketed after the two-week long Christmas holidays prompting both a lockdown followed by a 28-day Stay-at-Home order closing many businesses in Ontario.
Lecce said that regarding travel, government advice remains unchanged.
“Ontarians should refrain from travelling, particularly given the increase in new variants that pose a direct risk to our country,” he said “Please stay at home as much as possible and continue following the direction of public health officials so that we can keep schools open and protect our seniors, frontline health workers and all families.”