The Ontario government has announced that all elementary and secondary schools in the province will move to remote learning after the spring break.
"We are seeing a rapidly deteriorating situation with a record number of COVID cases and hospital admissions threatening to overwhelm our health care system," a statement form Ontario Premier Ford reads. "As I have always said we will do whatever it takes to ensure everyone stays safe."
"By keeping kids home longer after spring break we will limit community transmission, take pressure off our hospitals and allow more time to rollout our COVID-19 vaccine plan."
The spring break has commenced and is set to end on April 19. Private schools operating this week must transition to remote learning by April 15.
"This was not a decision we made lightly, as we know how critical schools are to Ontario students," a statement from Minister of Education Stephen Lecce reads. "Our priority has always been to keep schools open, however sharply rising community transmission can put our schools and Ontario families at risk."
"While Ontario's plan has kept schools safe, as confirmed by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, we are taking decisive and preventative action today to ensure students can safely return to learning in our schools."
Child care for non-school aged children will still be open, but before and after school programs will have to cease operations. The province has stated that free emergency child care for the school-aged children of "eligible health care and frontline workers" will be provided.
"To protect the most vulnerable, boards will make provisions for continued in-person support for students with special education needs who require additional support that cannot be accommodated through remote learning," the information from the provincial government reads.
This comes after Toronto, Peel and Guelph officials halted in-person learning last week due to COVID-19 concerns.
When will kids go back to school in Ontario?
The Ontario government did not provide a timeline for when school operations are expected to resume.
"We will keep a constant eye on the data, on case numbers, hospital capacity and ICU admissions to determine when we can get kids back in the classrooms," Ford said at a press conference on Monday. "I want nothing more than to be able to open the schools up again as soon as possible, but we all need to work together right now to get the community spread under control."
Minister Lecce still maintained on Monday that both schools and child care setting "have been safe."
"Today’s announcement is about prevention," Lecce said "It is a proactive and sadly necessary precaution as we tackle the third wave of COVID-19."
Following the announcement some Ontarians, including medical professionals, took to social media to respond to school closures.