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Ontario public schools will stay closed until September 2021: Premier Doug Ford

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford walks to a press conference at Queen's Park in Toronto Friday

The Ontario government announced on May 20th, 2021 their plan to safely reopen the province, and phase 1 of that plan officially begins in the week of June 14, 2021.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford will be joined by Minister of Education Stephen Lecce and Health Minister Christine Elliott to make an announcement at 1 p.m. CBC News will carry the news conference live.

Most students have been doing teacher-led online learning, with schools only being open to in-person learning for special education students who can not be accommodated through remote learning. Last week, I wrote to the public health, medical and education experts, asking for their opinion on the best path forward.

"It should be for all students because we know we must do as much as possible to get people outdoors to enjoy the summer, enjoy the nice weather", he said. Classrooms in the province have been closed since mid-April due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

Schools will continue to remain open for in-person learning for special education students who can not be accommodated through remote learning until the end of June.

Even though Ontario's stay-at-home order expires on Wednesday, the vast majority of restrictions are set to stay in place.

The Province has indicated, rather than having students return to in-person learning, the focus will be on having students and teachers vaccinated during the summer, in order to allow a more normal return in September.

The Ontario Science Table responded Saturday and said schools could reopen on a regional basis.

"At a time when our top priority is putting the third wave behind us so that we can safely enter Step One of our Roadmap to Reopen, we can't risk increased cases and potential downstream impacts on hospitals and ICUs", said Ford in a news release. "We want to be fully staffed and ready to go".

Elementary and high schools will be permitted to invite graduating students by class and homeroom respectively to attend an in-person, outdoor, physically distanced graduation ceremony in June.

"Children's mental, physical and emotional health is suffering".

It may not be what some parents wanted to hear, but students will finish the school year at home.

"COVID-19 has taken a significant toll on everyone in Ontario", said Premier Ford. "It's the result of his choices".

"We are at a critical point in the pandemic's third wave". Following prioritization of education workers with a first dose this spring, the province also expects to reach all education workers with a second dose by the week of August 15, if not already eligible earlier by age cohort or other eligibility.

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