Ontario Government Announces Schools and Parks will Remain Closed till 2019

As some jurisdictions in Canada look to re-open society from the COVID-19 quarantine lockdown, it seems like Ontario is looking to keep some aspects buttoned up for at least another month. The Government of Ontario announced this weekend that provincial parks, and all of Ontario’s public schools will be closed until May 31.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced the extension of school closures on Sunday afternoon saying that the move was based on the best advice of Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“We will do whatever it takes to keep our students safe,” said Lecce in a statement. “The government is taking a careful approach which provides our medical experts the time to review the modelling and make the best decision for the safety of our students and the future of learning.”

Ontario’s public schools have been closed since March 13, which was right before the start of March Break. Students resumed their studies on March 23, but from home using online tools provided by the Ontario government. On March 31, Lecce announced that Ontario’s students would be enjoying an extended period of home schooling until May 4.

This begs the question: will Ontario schools be allowed to open again before the end of the 2019/2020 school year? The government says that they are monitoring the situation closely, but would it make sense for the government to open schools for just one month? Lecce assures that whatever happens, students will finish their school year.

“Regardless of what transpires over the coming weeks, Ontario’s students will be able to complete their school year with confidence,” added Minister Lecce. “In particular, for students in their final year, we are removing all impediments to ensure students graduate and pursue post-secondary education.”

The Ministry of Education is also working with local boards to replace P.A. Days with extra instructional time, and expanding summer learning program to support vulnerable students, and to allow credit upgrades.

In other areas of provincial concern, the Ontario government announced this weekend that all provincial parks will also remain closed until May 31, and that includes any and all activities that might happen at a park.

“In order to keep Ontarians safe during this COVID-19 outbreak, our government is extending the closure of Ontario’s provincial parks and conservation reserves to May 31, 2020, said Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott in a statement. “This includes car camping, backcountry camping, roofed accommodations, day use opportunities, access points and all public buildings.”

All bookings and reservations for the month of May will be cancelled automatically. All payments will be refunded, and the Ontario government is going further by allowing anyone to cancel their booking for any time in the 202o calendar year without penalty. Both announcements come in advance of the start of the spring/summer camping season at Ontario parks.

“We understand this extension may impact many Ontarians’ plans during the month of May. However, the health and well-being of Ontarians is our government’s number one priority,” Elliott added. “Although we are making progress to stop the spread, the virus has not yet been contained. As a result, all but essential service workers must continue to stay at home and practice physical distancing.”

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