The Ontario Government announced today that students at public elementary and secondary schools will return to remote learning following the April break on Monday, April 19, 2021 in response to a “rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, the increasing risks posed to the public by COVID-19 variants, and the massive spike in hospital admissions,” the Ministry of Health said in a media release. Private schools that are operating in-person this week are to transition to remote learning by April 15.
Details were provided live on YouTube by Premier Doug Ford, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams.
“This was not a decision we made lightly, as we know how critical schools are to Ontario students. 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 of Education Stephen Lecce.
Ontario reported 4,401 new cases on April 11, 4,456 on April 10, 3,813 on April 9, and 4,227 on April 8. The April 10 case count was a single-day record for the province.
The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Ontario increased by 22.1 per cent between April 4 and 10, 2021. During the same period of time, the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care increased from 494 to 605; 382 of those patients are on a ventilator.
Based on the latest modelling data, the number of people requiring an intensive care bed is projected to rise to approximately 800 people within the next 10 days.
Closer to home, 25 new cases were reported in Muskoka for the period from April 8-11 (based on the date reported to the public health unit). One person is currently in hospital.
There is no anticipated date for a return to in-person learning.
Lecce said that the government understands how challenging and disruptive the switch from in-person to remote learning is for both students and parents, and that in-person learning will resume as soon as the chief medical officer of health gives the go-ahead.
According to the Ministry, since September 2020, 99.2 per cent of students and 98.6 per cent of staff have not reported a COVID-19 case.
“We want to really tackle the root cause of this, which is community transmission that is potentially impacting the safety of schools,” said Lecce.
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