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Province announces publicly funded schools to be closed until April 5 due to coronavirus

Ontario Premier Doug Ford (Ontario.ca Photo)

TORONTO — Students in Ontario will have an extended March Break due to the coronavirus.

The province announced this afternoon (March 12) that all publicly funded schools in Ontario will be closed for two weeks following March Break, which begins on March 14.

Schools will remain closed until April 5.

A joint statement from Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Minister of Education Stephen Lecce stated that the health and well-being of Ontarians is the government’s number one priority.

“Since we first learned of COVID-19 as an emerging public health issue, Ontario has been diligently monitoring the developing situation to protect the health and well-being of all Ontarians. We have also taken decisive action to ensure the province’s health care system is positioned to be ready for any scenario,” reads the statement. “Given the latest developments both internationally and here at home, today we are taking further action.”

The province says that the decision was made based on advice from Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, and the experts at the COVID-19 Command Table.

“We recognize the significant impact this decision will have on families, students, schools, as well as the broader community, but this precaution is necessary to keep people safe,” reads the statement.

The March 12 announcement is the latest in a number of actions the province has undertaken in recent days in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including enhanced access to screening and earmarking $100 million in contingency funding in the upcoming 2020 budget to address challenges related to COVID-19.

The World Health Organization deemed COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11.

“We are committed to working with partners to keep students safe and we expect to provide further information in the near future,” reads the statement.