Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson said that although keeping schools closed until September was “a very tough decision” it is “the right thing to do”.
Maintaining the safety and protection of children, school staff and families as priority, Premier Doug Ford announced Tuesday that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all public schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year.
“This decision is based on the advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health, health officials on the COVID-19 command table, and medical experts at the Hospital for Sick Children,” Thompson said.
Private schools, licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs will also remain closed for the safety and protection of children and families and staff through Stage 1 of the Framework for Reopening the Province.
But Thompson said she recognizes the importance of parents getting back to work to help restart the economy: “A gradual reopening of child care is expected to begin as part of Stage 2, which will use robust safety protocols to ensure the safety of Ontario’s youngest learners and their staff.”
Students who were on track to graduate from secondary school before the initial school closure order was made in March will be able to graduate, and all students will receive report cards.
The provincial government also unveiled an optional expanded summer learning program for Ontario students to ensure those who participate remain engaged through the summer months and prepare to return to school in the fall.
Thompson said she’s also being asked about the status of summer camps. “Summer camps are just one-way children engage in meaningful, skill-building activities,” she said, “and based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and following strict health and safety protocols, our government is working towards the opening of summer day camp programs in July and August.” Overnight camps are not permitted to operate in the summer of 2020.
“These are unprecedented times and the challenges we are facing are real, but by holding fast to our plan, we will come through this in a safer, and stronger manner,” Thompson said.
The MPP said the government is investing more than $75 million for classroom technology and to help improve access to remote learning, Ontario is partnering with 34 organizations and private businesses, along with school boards, to address key needs among educators, students and their families during the COVID-19 outbreak.