By Courtney Bachar/The Oshawa Express/LJI Reporter
Students won’t be getting March Break until April.
Durham District School Board sent a notice to families following the announcement made by Ontario’s Minister of Education Stephen Lecce on Thursday that March Break will be postponed until the week of April 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
March Break was originally scheduled to take place the week of March 15.
“With March Break being postponed, it highlights the important of everyone following the direction of public health officials by avoiding gatherings outside of your household, wearing a mask, washing your hands and avoiding non-essential travel as much as possible,” the DDSB message states.
According to Lecce, congregation is a key driver of the spread of COVID-19, something that was realized over the winter break.
“At this time, it is critical that we continue to prioritize the health and safety of students, staff and their families so we can continue with the safe return to in-person learning,” says Lecce. “Postponing March Break, not cancelling it, is an important way that schools can help to limit community transmission.”
“We will not take that risk again with your child, with our staff, with Ontario families,” Lecce adds.
Lecce notes delaying March Break also limits further disruptions for students as they return to in-person learning, adding schools have remained safe for kids.
“This move is intended to keep them that way,” says Lecce.
Durham students returned to in-person learning on Monday, Feb. 8 after having to learn virtually since returning from winter break due to an increase in COVID-19 cases.
Students in the rest of the province have also returned to in-person learning, except Toronto, York and Peel, the province’s hotspots for COVID-19. Students in these regions will be returning to in-person learning on Tuesday, Feb. 16 following the Family Day holiday.
“We have been able to successfully reopen schools and protect them from COVID-19 because we have listened to experts and added additional layers of protection with new safety measures,” he adds, including mandatory masking for students in Grades 1 to 3, as well as a better quality mask for students, province-wide asymptomatic testing for students and staff, and enhanced screening, as well as clear guidelines prohibiting congregation before and after schools for both students and staff.
“The decision to postpone March Break has not been an easy one, but necessary to keep Ontario families safe from this variant,” says Lecce.
“Nothing matters more than the health and safety of Ontario students and we will continue to act in their best interest and follow the best expert advice to protect our kids and our province.”