Ontario schools are not reopening this month and students will continue with remote learning until the end of the school year.
Premier Doug Ford made the much-anticipated announcement this afternoon (June 2).
Schools have been closed to most students since April after the delayed spring break. Most students have been doing teacher-led online learning, with schools only being open to in-person learning for special education students who cannot be accommodated through remote learning.
Schools will be allowed to invite graduating students in elementary schools (by class) and secondary schools (by homeroom/quadmestered class) to return to school in June for short, outdoor celebrations with physical distancing.
Emergency child care will continue until the end of June, aligning with the elementary school year. Before and after school programs are closed and licensed child care centres may resume serving school-aged children for full-day programming in the summer.
Keeping kids out of school is to protect families from the B.1.617.2 variant of concern and allow for higher rates of vaccination, according to the province.
Schools are expected to return to in-person learning in September for the 2021-22 school year.
“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 in a news release. “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.”
According to the province, recent modelling from the Science Advisory Table showed that reopening schools to in-person learning could lead to a six to 11 per cent increase in daily cases. That doesn't factor in the B.1.617.2 variant of concern.
Last week, Ford reached out for expert opinion on whether schools should reopen amid the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario.
The Ontario Science Table responded Saturday and said schools could reopen on a regional basis. It also suggested using the summer months to improve school buildings and vaccinate students.
Public Health Ontario reported 733 new COVID-19 cases today, making this the third day in a row that the province's daily case numbers have been under 1,000.
Today, the stay-at-home order ended in the province.
Restrictions for non-essential businesses, gathering limits and other measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 remain in place until the Roadmap to Reopening takes effect, which is expected to be around June 14.