Citing a concerning spike in COVID cases over the winter holidays, the Education Ministry has postponed March Break until the week of April 12.
“It is critical we follow public health advice to protect schools and avoid a repeat of the concerning spike in youth-related cases over the winter break when students and staff were out of schools for a prolonged period of time,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce during a Thursday afternoon media briefing. “We are taking this precaution based on advice from health experts, including the province’s Science Table and the Chief Medical Officer of Health, to help protect against the emerging COVID-19 variants of concern.”
Simcoe Muskoka’s medical officer of health, Dr. Charles Gardner did note this week there was an increase in the number of infections among children following the winter holiday. “Our experience was that during the Christmas break, disease rates in children actually went up considerably, that the home environment isn’t necessarily a safe environment or out in the community is not necessarily a safe environment for them, from a COVID point of view, as opposed to being in a very controlled environment in school,” he said.
“I could see advantages to it being postponed,” added Dr. Gardner. “Children will have just gotten back into class, they’d be just getting the mental health benefits of being together, it’d be nice if they could continue that longer into the year.”
Students in Simcoe County were able to return to the classroom this week, while face-to-face classes will be back in session for all students, including those in hot spot regions, as of February 16.