Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expected to make an announcement today on whether schools will reopen in June.
The decision come after the Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams, local medical officers of health and the Ontario Science Advisory Table advised the government to reopen in-person learning.
Schools have been closed for in-person learning since mid-April when the province announced they would be shut down indefinitely due to skyrocketing COVID-19 transmission in the province.
Sources told us that Ford was not willing to reopen schools until the fall, but the decision is expected to be finalized during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, and will be announced shortly after.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce and Health Minister Christine Elliott will join the premier for the announcement at Queen’s Park on Wednesday.
When Ford closed schools in April, he said he wanted “nothing more than to be able to open the schools up again as soon as possible.”
He said the government would keep a “constant eye” on COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalization rates to determine when students resume in-person learning.
The government has never provided specific metrics on where case rates and hospitalizations need to be before reopening schools.
Meanwhile, Ontario is expected to enter the first phase of its reopening plan by June 14 and there have been calls to allow students to return to class before reopening the economy.
Williams previously stated he wants to see children return to the classroom before the economy reopens.
Ford has said multiple times during the pandemic that he always takes the advice of Williams.
“My position has been always, like our public health measures table and our medical officers of health, that feel that schools should be the last to close and the first to open,” Williams said at a news conference last week. “Ideally, I’d like the schools open before we enter Step 1 of our exit strategy.”
Modelling released by health officials in Ontario last month showed that reopening schools would likely result in a six to 11 per cent spike in COVID-19 cases. Experts who presented the modelling deemed that number “manageable” given the benefits of allowing students to return to in-person learning.
The top doctors for Toronto, Peel Region and York Region have also publicly said they would support a resumption of in-person learning before the end of the school year.