As a first step to ensure the continued learning of students, the government has launched an online portal dedicated to curating and providing access to a wide variety of educational resources, for all students from Kindergarten through to Grade 12.
This online portal, which is available at Ontario.ca/learnathome, enables students at every grade level to continue learning while away from school. These resources are developed by Ontario educators, and resources for all grades are informed by leading instructional guidance. For those students who are in secondary school, the government is providing access to online courses directly based on Ontario curricula.
Although publicly funded schools are ordered closed until April 6th, the fluidity of developments around COVID-19 means the closure period may be further extended.
According to Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, “Specifically, we are working to ensure that students will be able to continue their coursework and credit accumulation, even when we aren’t able to be in a classroom setting. Ontario is a leading jurisdiction in the availability and richness of online courses, so we will be continuing to leverage these tools and other resources to promote students’ learning and development. We are working with school boards to ensure students that currently do not have access to computers gain the technology needed to participate.”
He went on to say that no graduating student will have their ability to graduate impacted by the two-week closure and the COVID19 developments. “For example, I have cancelled EQAO assessments for this school year. I have also approved a change in graduation requirements so the completion of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) is not a barrier for students on track to graduate. We are also working with the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development to ensure students can apply to post-secondary education (including Apprenticeship, College and University), regardless of the situation this semester.”
The Ministry of Education is also providing all school boards with access to funding for the deep cleaning of school facilities, childcare centres, and school buses. Following the closure period, we will minimize any risks to students, learners and our educators.
Lecce also strongly stressed that for those returning from travel outside of Canada, it is critical they follow the strong recommendations of Dr. Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and self-isolate for 14 days.
“This means staying at home and avoiding contact with other people to help prevent the spread of disease to members of your family who may not have travelled with you or to your community,” added Minister Lecce.
“Also, during this time, I encourage you to continue to have open conversations with your children about COVID-19 and acknowledge that their reactions to this period — however emotional — are understandable and normal,” said Lecce. “There are many resources available to you and your children, notably Kids Help Phone, which is Canada’s only 24/7 national support service. They offer professional counselling, information and referrals and volunteer-led, text-based support to young people in both English and French. Please visit their website: www.kidshelpphone.ca, call: 1-800-668-6868, or text CONNECT to 686868.”