Publicly funded schools in Ottawa and across Ontario will be closed for two weeks after March Break
OTTAWA -- All publicly funded elementary and secondary schools in Ottawa and across Ontario will be closed for two weeks following March Break due to concerns about COVID-19.
On the eve of the one-week break for thousands of students, the Ontario Government announced all public and Catholic schools will be closed from March 14 to April 5. March Break is scheduled for March 16 to 20.
In a statement, the Ontario Government says the decision to close the schools for two weeks following March Break was based on the advice from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams.
The statement from Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said "we recognize the significant impact this decision will have on families, students, schools, as well as the broader community, but this precaution is necessary to keep people safe."
Speaking to reporters at Queen’s Park, Lecce said “as we head into March Break, it is clear that there will be an increased travel and exposure to the virus as students and their families travel. I want every parent and family to know, with confidence, when their child returns to school they will be in a safe and healthy learning environment.”
When the two week period ends, Lecce said “we will evaluate the situation and decide if any further action is required.”
The Ottawa Carleton District School Board sent a message to parents about the Ontario Government’s decision to close all schools for two weeks following March Break. The closure will impact all OCDSB elementary and secondary schools.
The note says “at this time, there are many unanswered questions about this decision, including the impact on child care programs and services, March Break camps, community use permits, administrative buildings, school year calendar, dual credit programs and many other issues.”
More details are expected to be announced at a later date, but the OCDSB says it can confirm that students will not attend school between March 14 and April 5.
Lecce says Ontario is finalizing a plan that "will ensure that learning continues for students in Ontario."
Earlier this week, the New Brunswick government ordered anyone who travelled outside of Canada to stay away from schools in the province for two weeks.
Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health told CTV News at Six that the decision to close schools for two weeks after March Break is a “protective” measure.
“The idea is that when people have travelled out of country, anywhere out of country including to the United States, people are meant to self-monitor for symptoms for two weeks. It may be difficult for children to self-identify, this is an added protection.”