It looks like March break will be longer than expected. The Government of Ontario has decided to close all publicly funded schools in the province for two weeks after March Break, due to COVID-19 concerns. This Ontario school closure will be in effect from March 14 to April 5, 2020.
According to a statement issued by Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Health Christine Elliot, and Minister of Education Stephen Lecce, the government has decided to take this approach in response to the growing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Since we first learned of COVID-19 as an emerging public health issue, Ontario has been diligently monitoring the developing situation to protect the health and well-being of all Ontarians," reads part of the statement.
"Based on advice from Dr. David Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health and the experts at the COVID-19 Command Table, the Minister of Education has issued a Ministerial Order to close all publicly funded schools in Ontario for two weeks ... in response to the emergence in Ontario of COVID-19."
According to the Toronto Star, this will affect over 4,800 schools, and two million students across the province.
Ontario currently has 59 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 17 cases confirmed on Thursday.
On advice of Chief Medical Officer of Health, schools have been ordered to remain closed from March 14-April 5, 202… https://t.co/z4F6TkeUKb— Stephen Lecce (@Stephen Lecce) 1584044292.0
The decision is believed to be a first for the province, as well as the country, and is being described as an "unprecedented move."
In the meantime, parents are being asked to keep their children away from large crowds and venues during this time.
#BREAKING: All publicly funded schools in Ontario will be closed for two weeks following March Break, in response t… https://t.co/i2lq7RJGKq— CP24 (@CP24) 1584043225.0
According to CBC News, it remains unclear how this latest decision will affect other school functions, like childcare centres and other school-based programs.
“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,” read Thursday's notice.
This closure will affect both elementary and high schools across Ontario.
During a press conference on March 12, Ford had suggested that Ontarians "go away and have a good time" during March Break.