TORONTO – Students in public schools across Ontario will be having April Break this year.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced on Feb. 11 that March Break, originally scheduled for March 15-19, will be postponed until April 12-16.
Lecce stated the decision to postpone March Break was made with the advice of public health officials, as well as in consultation with teachers’ unions, trustee associations and principal’s councils in English, French and Catholic schools.
“Many students have been learning remotely since the start of 2021. 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 Lecce.
“We appreciate the hard work of students and staff in the education sector and I want to be clear: March break is being postponed, not cancelled.”
Added Lecce, “To keep schools open, we must keep them free of COVID-19. The actions announced today serve to limit opportunities for congregation – while reaffirming the evidence that schools are safe for students.”
Lecce added that a desire to maintain consistency for students was part of the decision, as a majority of students in Ontario returned to class just this week.
Private schools, which the Ministry of Education does not have authority over, are also being asked to postpone March Break. Lecce anticipates that private schools will cooperate with the province on this matter.
“The message today, to both public and private schools in this province, is that they should defer the March Break,” said Lecce.
Opposition to postponing March Break
Shortly after Lecce’s announcement, the province’s four major teachers’ unions sent a joint press release stating the postponement of March Break is not in the best interest of students, teachers, education works and families.
“AEFO, ETFO, OECTA, and OSSTF/FEESO strongly oppose the government’s plan to postpone March Break,” states the release.
“These are unprecedented times, and this is a much-needed break for students, teachers, education workers, and families who have been under tremendous pressure throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The government’s decision to postpone March Break does not take into consideration the mental health and well-being of those involved.”
The unions feel if there is a concern about people travelling during March Break, those concerns should be addressed by the government through other means.
“Their decision to postpone, despite unanimous opposition from unions representing educators and other stakeholders in the sector, including all school board associations and the Ontario Principals’ Council, is another example of this government ignoring experts and making decisions that are reckless and baseless,” the release further states.
“This decision demonstrates their lack of understanding about the stress and pressures of learning and working in a pandemic. Teachers and education workers have gone to extraordinary lengths to teach and support students every day since the start of the school year, whether in person or online. Their efforts should be applauded not diminished.”