As thousands of students return to in-class learning across Ontario today, the province's New Democrats are calling on the Progressive Conservative government not to cancel March Break.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said students, parents and teachers are "burning out" and are in desperate need of a break from the strain of virtual classrooms and the stress of health protocols from in-class learning -- echoing a call from education unions.
“At school it’s constant vigilance and lots of anxiety. At home it’s hours upon hours of screen time. Parents are doing the superhuman juggling act of working while helping kids learn," Horwath said.
While a final decision has not been made, Education Minister Stephen Lecce indicated the government is exploring whether the break week would be cancelled to help students catch up on learning they may have missed during the extended winter break in January.
"My decision point is going to be made exclusively on medical advice. If they believe that cancelling the break to disincentive travel and is in the best interest of public health, I'm going to follow that advice full stop," said Lecce told CTV Morning Live in Ottawa last week.
Education Critic Marit Stiles said a decision on the break should be communicated sooner rather than later
“Doug Ford owes families and educators certainty, clear messaging, and action,” said Stiles. “Before last Spring Break he told people to travel – and the virus ran rampant in Ontario as a result."
“This time, educators and families are looking for certainty that this break is going ahead."
Students in 13 public health units in southern Ontario returned to in-person learning on Monday.
Schools in Toronto, Peel Region and York Region—three areas still grappling to contain the spread of COVID-19—are scheduled to reopen on Feb. 16 after the Family Day long weekend.