Ontario’s Plan To Safely Return Students To Class Following The April BreakPublished on April 08, 2021
On April 6th, 2021, Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, issued a Section 22 order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, closing all Toronto schools from April 7th to 18th. Toronto schools are closed for three days, as students begin their April Break on April 12th, and return to class on April 18th.
On April 7th, 2021, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce presented our government’s plan to keep schools safe following the announcement of the Stay At Home Order. The Stay At Home Order does not apply to schools — our government is fully committed to keeping them open for the mental health of students.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health has confirmed that schools remain safe – and the medical community has been clear that keeping schools open is critical for the mental health and well-being of kids. Against incredible odds, 98% of schools remain open today, and Ontario has one of the lowest rates of cases for youth under 19 in Canada.
That is a testament to the $1.6 billion investment we made in staffing, PPE, cleaning, ventilation, testing, and comprehensive protocols approved by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and the collective efforts of educators and parents working hard at this critical time.
While April Break will proceed, new protocols will be introduced to ensure students return to class safely following the break, including:
- Asymptomatic testing expansion to include testing during the break
- On-site confirmation of self-screening of staff and students
- Refresher training for staff on safety protocols upon return from break
- Encouraging outdoor instruction when possible
- Enhanced cleaning of schools during the break
For the week of April 12th-18th, pharmacies that offer testing and all assessment centres across the province will accept appointments from students and education staff for asymptomatic testing. The Ministry of Education will be working with school boards to offer school-based clinics.
The Government also confirmed that vaccination of education staff will be accelerated, with access starting next week during the ‘April Break’. This expansion includes:
- Special education staff, province-wide
- Vaccination of education workers starting in high-priority neighborhoods in Toronto and Peel, and as supply allows, in Hamilton, Halton, York, Durham, and Ottawa.
- A commitment to scale up the delivery of vaccinations province-wide to all education staff, as supply allows
Details with specific instructions and information will be shared with education workers regarding COVID-19 vaccination in short order
It is critical that all families and staff continue to follow public health advice during the break, to ensure students can safely return to class on April 18. In collaboration with and on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, we will monitor the situation and take all action necessary to keep students, staff, and families safe.