Education Minister: Be prepared for schools to remain closed past April 5

Stephen Lecce

Education Minister Stephen Lecce says Ontarians should be prepared for the closure of the province’s schools to stretch beyond April 5 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Lecce tells NEWSTALK 1010’s Jerry Agar the government is preparing for a longer-term shutdown, but he is waiting for advice from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Quebec has closed schools until at least May and cancelled final exams. Alberta has locked its schools until September.

Lecce has said that if schools need to be closed for a longer period of time, there will be a plan for more e-learning and ways for students to complete their course work and earn credits.

While the province initially said that students would spend an additional two weeks away from the classroom during an extended March Break, Ford acknowledged on Monday that COVID-19 expands that timeline. 

“The reality is April 6 is not realistic right now,” Ford said during a news conference at Queen’s Park. “We’re in a state of emergency.”

“Our priority is making sure our kids are safe, that’s our number one priority.”

The Progressive Conservative government unveiled new tools last week designed to help parents home-school their children during the closures. 

Elementary students will be offered a suite of educational programming on Television Ontario (TVO) including shows that teach mathematics, science and language. 

High school students have access to an online learning portal that includes applied and academic courses to avoid what the government calls "learning loss."

The government originally said that any decision to close schools beyond April 6 would be made based on the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. 

With files from CTV News.