Acting Medical Officer of Health for the Northwestern Health Unit, Dr. Ian Gemmill, was glad to hear that Ontario students won’t be returning to the classroom in June.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce made the long-awaited announcement on Tuesday. Shortly after his announcement, Gemmill offered his thoughts on the decision.
“It’s a wise thing to see where we are over the summer and make decisions about school year next year. Give the kids a bit of a break to enjoy the summer, and then we’ll make more decisions,” said Gemmill, in a virtual media conference.
“It’s probably wise that we give ourselves some time and breathing space to observe what these kinds of relaxation measures will mean. We’re learning more about this virus every week. By September, I’m hoping it’s clear what needs to be in place to make sure that the kids are safe.”
All public and private schools will remain closed through the end of June, and students will continue learning virtually to finish off the school year. Minister Lecce says that Ontario will be announcing their plan for the return to school in September, before the end of June.
“There’s no good options here. We want our kids to have their education and I know they’re making great efforts to take it online, but we need to learn more about how the virus is transmitted in children.”
“We’re hearing conflicting reports on how much children do contribute to the transmission in communities, and if they’re causing more and more cases to be infected,” added Gemmill.
It was also announced that overnight summer camps will not be able to open. However, day camps will be allowed to run in July and August with new safety protocols in place.
Licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs will also remain closed for the safety and protection of children, families and staff through Stage 1 of the Framework for Reopening the Province.
Emergency child care will continue to operate and provide support for health care and other frontline workers. A gradual reopening of child care is expected to begin when the province is ready to transition to Stage 2 based on public health criteria, which will include robust safety protocols for the safety of Ontario's youngest learners and their staff.
For more information:
Students will not be returning to the classroom
COVID-19 case in Sioux Lookout did not show symptoms, NWHU