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Ford government tells school boards to prepare for extended remote learning in 2021

Last Updated Dec 17, 2020 at 1:51 pm EDT

The province is preparing for the possibility that the Christmas break for in-person learning in schools may be extended in the new year.

In a memo issued to school boards, Education Minister Stephen Lecce says while the transmission of COVID-19 in schools has remained “low” they should prepare for the possibility of remote learning beyond January 4.

“We are recommending that boards encourage students and staff to take home any materials that they may require for remote learning before they leave school for the holiday period so that we can continue to be ready for all scenarios,” reads the memo.

Lecce further recommends that school boards continue to ensure that students and families are provided the resources required to successfully participate in remote learning, including ensuring the availability of remote learning devices for all students.

The memo points out that the public health environment in the province is evolving rapidly and they will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation, including increasing hospitalizations and patients in intensive care.

On Thursday, Premier Doug Ford touched on Lecce’s memo, saying that it’s “all hands on deck” moving forward as schools enter the holiday break.

“I know the minister of education has put the schools on notice. It’s all hands on deck. We have to be ready for anything,” Ford said.

“We’re going to be ready.”

Last month, Lecce said there was no need to extend the Christmas break, pointing out Ontario schools have been “remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks” during a second wave that has seen record-breaking daily counts, most notably in Toronto and Peel Region.

“We have consulted with the Chief Medical Officer of Health as well as the Public Health Measures Table and have determined that an extended winter holiday is not necessary at this time, given Ontario’s strong safety protocols, low levels of transmission and safety within our schools,” he said back on November 18.

There are currently twelve Toronto District School Board (TDSB) schools closed due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

All high schools in the York Catholic District School Board have switched to remote learning for three days this week, Wednesday to Friday.

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