Ontario’s public schools will remain closed until at least the end of May, the government said on Sunday, extending the date of return once again for the province’s two million students.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce also said that the government is replacing the remaining exam days and professional activity days – between two and seven depending on the school board - with instructional time. He said that he had no plans to extend the academic year into the summer months.
Unlike a number of other provinces, including British Columbia, Alberta and New Brunswick, which have closed schools indefinitely, Ontario has extended closings every few weeks.
Mr. Lecce said that extending the school closings was based on the advice from the province’s chief medical officer of health and other health officials to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“That extension will provide the government sufficient time to review the data and the modelling so that we make the best decision based on the best medical advice to our government,” he said on Sunday, adding that it was for the safety of students and staff “should they return to school some point this year or anytime beyond.”
Mr. Lecce first announced in mid-March that schools would be closed for two weeks after spring break. The government later introduced a teacher-led learning plan that set out student expectations. The plan sets standards for different grade levels, ranging from five hours of work a week for kindergarten to Grade 6 students, and three hours of work per course a week for students in semestred high schools.
The government also said on Sunday that it would be expanding its summer learning program.
The details of that were unclear, but a spokeswoman for Mr. Lecce said it would not be mandatory and offered to students both in elementary and high-school. The program would focus on supports for vulnerable students and upgrading courses.