Schools to return to online learning after April break

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce at a press conference announcing that schools will be moved to remote learning after the April break

Both Quebec and Ontario reported strong rises in COVID-19 hospitalizations on Monday, prompting concerns about the capacity of those province's health-care systems amid a surge of more contagious variants of COVID-19.

"We are seeing a rapidly deteriorating situation with a record number of COVID cases and hospital admissions threatening to overwhelm our health care system", a statement form Ontario Premier Ford reads. "And bringing our kids back to a congregate setting in school after a week off in the community is a risk that I won't take".

"The problem is not in our schools, it's in our community", he said.

Private schools operating in-person this week are to transition to remote learning by April 15.

Child care for non-school aged children will still be open, but before and after school programs will have to cease operations.

The schools will be closed indefinitely.

The government said school boards will make provisions for continued in-person learning for students with special education needs who require additional support that can not be accommodated through remote learning.

Last week, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit gave the green light for district school boards to return to the classroom after the break.

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Ontario has been under a stay-at-home order since Thursday, April 8.

"Prolonged closure at this time is not only but prudent and necessary".

Elliott is expected to join Premier Doug Ford and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones this afternoon to provide an update on Ontario's COVID-19 vaccination plan. "We knew this was coming".

Now people aged 50 or older living in hotspot neighbourhoods in those regions can book a vaccination appointment using the provincial portal. "That is our intent, it just has to be safe", said Minister Lecce.

"The government literally ignored the advice of their experts", she said. "Our priority has always been to keep schools open, however sharply rising community transmission can put our schools and Ontario families at risk", said Minister Lecce.

Meanwhile, two shipments of the Moderna vaccine scheduled to arrive in April have each been delayed by a week and the province says it is not able to administer the 150,000 doses a day they are capable of due to ongoing supply issues. Chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin suggested that the province was considering imposing mask use for outdoor gatherings, adding the province has found signs that more indoor get-togethers are taking place.

Ontario has said it will offer COVID-19 vaccines to residents aged 18 and older in hot-spot postal codes, starting with the hardest-hit neighbourhoods in Toronto and Peel Region.

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