KITCHENER -- Waterloo Region's medical officer of health said students and families should be prepared for a move to virtual learning after the April break.

"Our case rates have also started to increase in the last couple of days and we are at risk for the rapid acceleration seen in other communities," a statement from Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said in part. "Parents and schools should prepare for the possibility that there may be the need to switch to online learning following the April break."

Dr. Wang said a decision to close schools wouldn't be "made lightly."

"In communities with very high and accelerating rates of community spread, more children and adults will acquire COVID-19, and this will lead to impacts for schools," her statement said. "For children’s health and learning needs, schools should be the last to close and the first to open."

Dr. Wang said officials want to give parents and schools as much notice as possible and will work closely with local school boards over the coming days.

A provincial stay-at-home order will come into effect on Thursday at 12:01 a.m. Schools are allowed to stay open under that order, but Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, Toronto and Peel have all closed schools until at least April 18, when the April break is over.