Coronavirus Triggers Three-Week Closing of Publicly-Funded Schools in Ontario

Elementary and Secondary Schools in Province will be closed March 4th thru April 5th

“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.”                               – from a Statement issued this March 12th, 2020 by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Health Minister Christine Elliott and Education Minister Stephen Lecce

News from the Office of the Ontario Premier

Posted March 12th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO — Today (this March 12th), Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, issued the following statement in response to the impact of COVID-19 on publicly funded schools as March Break approaches:

“The health and well-being of Ontarians is our government’s number one priority.

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.  We have also taken decisive action to ensure the province’s health care system is positioned to be ready for any scenario.

Given the latest developments both internationally and here at home, today we are taking further action.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. David Williams

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 following March break, in response to the emergence in Ontario of COVID-19. This order was approved by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

This means that Ontario schools have been ordered to remain closed from March 14 through to April 5, 2020.

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.

Today’s steps build on a number of actions our government has taken in recent days to respond to COVID-19, including moving forward with additional public health measures, which include enhanced access to screening, expanding lab-testing capacity, and implementing new initiatives to keep the public and frontline workers safe. We are further setting aside up to $100 million in contingency funding in the upcoming 2020 budget to address challenges related to COVID-19.

We are further mindful of those who work in other public institutions and buildings. As this situation evolves, Ontario’s COVID-19 Command Table is prepared to respond quickly and effectively to any scenario and provide the government with advice on measures to keep the public and frontline workers safe.

We are committed to working with partners to keep students safe and we expect to provide further information in the near future.

Our public health system has demonstrated remarkable responsiveness to COVID-19 and these measures we are putting in place will ensure that we continue to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario and thereby protect children and families across the province.” 

The Statement from the Office of the Premier was followed by one, posted below, form the Office of Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath

Ontario Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath responds to government announcement on Ontario school closures

“Two million kids will be out of school and hundreds of thousands of parents will be home from work. Parents need to be assured that they can stay home with their kids, and that they will not lose a paycheque – and cannot be fired – for doing that.”                                                                                – Ontario’s  Official Oppositon Leader Andrea Horwath

“Thank you to Dr. David Williams and Public Health officials for their continued hard work. The decision to close Ontario’s schools to contain the spread of COVID-19 was not an easy one, and I support it. The safety of children and education workers is paramount.

However, two million kids will be out of school and hundreds of thousands of parents will be home from work. Parents need to be assured that they can stay home with their kids, and that they will not lose a paycheque – and cannot be fired – for doing that. Of course, parents staying home will create a ripple right through our province. TTC drivers are moms and dads. Health care staff have children of their own. Small business owners have children.

Parents and families in Ontario have a right to be concerned right now that the government is ‘looking at’ plans to deal with the impacts that will hit families, workers, businesses, public services and the economy. These plans should have been in place well before this day came.

The people of Ontario deserve a plan for workers, the delivery of public services, and the economy, and they deserve for it to be clearly and effectively communicated to the public.

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space following the Bernie Sanders quote below.

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For More News And Commentary From Niagara At Large – An independent, alternative voice for our greater bi-national Niagara Region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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