Simcoe Muskoka Catholic school board preparing for possible closures

The Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board (SMCDSB) requested students and staff bring their belongings home for the Easter long weekend after news the province will go into a 28-day lockdown starting Saturday at 12:01 am.

While the school board says it hasn't received any indication from the Ontario government that schools will be shuttered, it is taking action "out of an abundance of preparation and precaution."

In a letter sent to families on Wednesday evening, the board said, "There is a lot of speculation and rumour surrounding the province's plans regarding another lockdown and potential of school closures across the province. The Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board has not received any information from the Ministry of Education or public health regarding school closures."

It goes on to state, "Having said that, the current directive from the Ministry of Education is that learning will continue for in-class learning and virtual learners on Tuesday, April 6th and that spring break will proceed from April 12th to April 16th for all learners."

The province confirmed Thursday schools would remain open for in-person learning during the emergency shutdown for "the mental health and well-being of Ontario youth."

Earlier this week, the region's medical officer of health cautioned that the third wave could force school closures and noted he would support a further postponement to the spring break planned for the week of April 12. "I believe at this point in time, it's an important thing to keep school going, and I do know that if we go on our break right now, we might end up with that surge, so I personally would be supportive of a further postponement," Dr. Charles Gardner said.

"We might find that the third wave we would have to be discontinuing school regardless," he added.