Schools to stay closed past April 6, Premier Ford says
KITCHENER -- Parents, teachers and students received some tough news on Monday.
Premier Doug Ford admitted during a news conference in Queen's Park that the shutdown of Ontario schools will extend past April 6, but there's no timeline yet for when students could head back to class.
On the Thursday before March Break, the province announced they would keep publicly-funded schools closed for two weeks after the break ended.
But as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves every day, officials say more time is needed to determine when it will be safe for two million students to return to class.
"Do I believe and does the minister believe that April 6, kids are going back to school? The kids won't be going back to school on April 6," Ford said at the press conference.
What exactly that means for parents and students isn't clear yet: late last week, the province unveiled an online learning portal. But that wasn't meant to replace class time: they say is meant to keep students from falling behind.
Premier Ford said at Monday's press conference that everything is taking a back seat to health and safety right now.
CTV News reached out to the local schoolboards for comment.
They say they're hoping to hear more from the province to give them direction moving forward.
The Upper Grand District School Board, which covers Guelph and Wellington County, say they've been spent the past two weeks planning what to do in case closures were extended.
Officials hope they can reveal that plan in the coming days.
On Tuesday, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce sent an open letter to Ontario parents.
"The foremost priority of the government is to keep all Ontarians safe, including our students and educators," the letter reads in part.
"Working with our partners and all levels of government, we will do whatever it takes to deliver on this imperative."
Lecce says that parents should speak to their children openly and honestly about what's going on in the world, and to be aware of their mental health through this time.
He says that all school boards will also have access to funding to pay for deep cleaning of schools when students do eventually return.