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Ontario won’t extend school winter break

Ontario school kids will not have an extended winter break. It’s current COVID-19 protocols are enough to keep the children safe in schools, the province said on Wednesday.

After consulting the province’s top doctor and its public health measures table, the government has determined an extended holiday break is “not necessary,” noted Education Minister Stephen Lecce. 

The government will continue to consider all options when it comes to keeping schools open in January and beyond, Lecce said in a statement released the same day.

However on Tuesday, the education minister had stated the province was considering prolonging the winter break or starting the new year with a stretch of online learning to reduce the risk of transmission following the holidays.

“The announcement we will unveil will be comprehensive and include a variety of elements, one of which can include something like an extended closure and online learning experience,” Lecce told reporters.

The provincial education minister said he was consulting with Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams on the details of the plan, including the closure and that he would  have more to say about the matter in the next “week or two.”

“I am seriously looking at solutions that may include some period outside of class that allows (Ontario) to protect the gains we made in this province going into the second year,” said Lecce. “We will be able to report more substantively on that soon, to give parents notice that they understandably deserve.”

Last week Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie hinted in an interview to a media outlet that she has “heard rumblings” about early closures for the holidays in order to conduct deep cleanings. But Ontario’s Ministry of Education clarified that it was “currently not considering modifications to the school year calendar for 2020” at that point.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford too called closing in-person schools again “the last resort” on Monday and cautioned against assuming an extended winter break is inevitable, at his daily news briefing Tuesday.

Since schools opened mid-September, more than 3,500 cases of novel coronavirus infection have been detected in schools. Several have had to temporarily shut down due to outbreaks.

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