Ontario schools will not have an extended winter break


TORONTO -- Ontario schools will not have an extended winter break, despite provincial officials hinting at it a day earlier when discussing possible new COVID-19 measures for 2021.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said that after consultation with health officials, the province will not mandate an extended school closure around the holidays.

“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,” Lecce said.

“We are fully committed to building upon our national leading plan to keep kids learning and safe. We will continue to consider any option and take decisive action to ensure we deliver on this shared priority of keeping schools open in January and beyond.”

The statement comes a day after the minister said the government was considering an extended school closure as part of a “comprehensive” announcement set to be unveiled in the next week or two. Speaking to reporters following Question Period on Tuesday, Lecce said that he is looking at “solutions that may include some period out of class” as part of a strategy to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the new year.

"The announcement we will unveil will be comprehensive and include a variety of elements, one of which can include something like an extended closure and online learning experience,” Lecce said on Tuesday.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford seemed to backtrack on those comments at his daily news conference later that day, saying that “it may not happen.”

In Lecce’s Wednesday statement, he says that schools “have been remarkable successful at minimizing outbreaks” and that the government is focused on building on that progress.