Ontario schools to stay closed to in-person learning until September, Premier Ford announced after Ontario’s top doctor called for reopening sooner

On Wednesday, June 2, 2021, the Premier of Ontario Doug Ford announced that schools will remain closed for in-person learning for the rest of the academic year until at least September 2021.

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During the announcement, Doug Ford told Ontarians, “While no one wants kids back in school more than I do, as your premier, these aren’t risks I’m willing to take,”. 

Ford is hoping that by September 2021 in-school learning can resume when he expects all teachers and education workers to have been fully vaccinated. 

This announcement from Premier Ford comes after Ontario’s top doctor, Dr. David Williams, called for students to return to their classrooms before mid-June. 

During a news conference on Tuesday, June 1, Dr. Willians said, “My position has been always, like our public health measures table and our medical officers of health, that feel that schools should be the last to close and the first to open,”.

“Ideally, I’d like the schools open before we enter Step 1 of our exit strategy.”

Dr. Williams added that “We’re confident that we can be supportive of making sure the schools are safe for everyone, including students and teachers and other staff working there.”

Before Dr. Williams’s statement, a University of Ottawa education professor who specializes in childhood mental health research, Tracy Vaillancourt, along with 14 other researchers wrote Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford a letter calling for the reopening of schools

Tracy Vaillancourt and the 14 other researchers are part of a team working on a report about the effects the pandemic has had on children.

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In the letter, the researchers wrote to Premier Ford that “We are on the cusp of a generational catastrophe.”

“Our professional consensus is that these shutdowns have negatively affected all aspects of child development, that extend well beyond the classroom.”

In addition to calling for schools to reopen, the researchers also called for the reopening of all extracurricular activities.

“We also recommend that we prioritize the safe reopening of all extracurricular activities like sports, and we work to ensure that they stay open,”

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