Protecting Students and Staff and Slowing Community Spread

Moving Schools to Remote Learning Following Spring Break

As the Chief Medical Officer of Health and numerous local medical officers of health have stated, schools have been safe, and Ontario has the lowest case rates among provinces for youth under 20, outside Atlantic Canada.

However, the concerning rise in community transmission and ICU occupancy increases the risk that cases will be brought into schools, putting students and staff at risk. That’s why, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, our PC government announced that all publicly-funded schools will shift to remote learning following the April Break, and private schools who are operating in-person this week are to do so by April 14.

While schools have been safe, this action is necessary to protect our schools as well as keep students, staff and their families safe.

In order to prepare for shifts to remote learning throughout this school year, we’ve invested $224 million in remote learning staffing support, course content, and devices for students. And to build upon our progress and protect schools, our government is accelerating the delivery of vaccines to education staff for all special education staff province-wide, and for education staff in priority neighborhoods in Toronto and Peel.

As more supply becomes available, we will expand to other hot-spot regions and in communities across Ontario, because our focus is getting every frontline worker in our school and child care settings immunized.

As part of the government’s efforts to protect the most vulnerable, boards will be required to make provisions for continued in-person support for students with special education needs who require additional support that cannot be accommodated through remote learning.

We know the drastic mental health impacts this pandemic has had on children, and we’ve invested an additional $52.5M in supports for mental health and special education for this school year, which has supported the hiring of over 200 additional mental health workers in schools. This builds on the doubling of permanent mental health funding to $40M and has made it easier for children to access the help they need.

We have consistently advocated for open schools – but broader community cases and the upward trend must decline in order to keep schools safe for students and staff, and to ensure they reopen for Ontario’s youth.