The break, which was due to run from March 15 to 19, will instead take place in the week beginning on April 12. Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced the delay on Thursday afternoon, ending days of speculation about the cancellation of the school holiday due to the risk of COVID-19 spread.
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Report de la semaine de relâche en Ontario
Students in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) returned to in-person classes last week, after spending the weeks following the winter break in remote learning as COVID numbers spiked across the province.
EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis supported the postponement, and pointed to the rise in the number of school-aged children who tested positive for COVID during the Christmas break.
“We had a surge in cases in children, we had a surge in positivity in children, and that speaks to the fact that children were playing unattended and unsupervised,” he said. “Schools provide multiple levels of oversight and protection of these children. There are very solid public health reasons.
“Of course, I agree that people are tired, parents are tired, teachers are tired, kids are tired as well. It’s merited deferring so that there will be a break, but a bit later on. In April, we’ll have a better idea of where we are with the variant, we’ll have more people vaccinated by that time.”
More than 3000 vaccine doses have been administered, primarily to residents of long term care and retirement homes. Another 3000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are expected next week, after none were received this week due to an ongoing shortage across the country.
All long-term care home residents have received the first dose of the vaccine. The second dose has also been administered to residents at Foyer St Jacques Nursing Home, Champlain Long Term Care Residence in L’Orignal, Pinecrest in Plantagenet, and Centre d'acceuil Roger-Séguin in Clarence Creek.
Staff cases continued at Pinecrest Nursing Home in Plantagenet, Valoris-211 Russell Road in Cheney, Manoir Carillion in Chute-à-Blondeau, and Centre d'Acceuil Roger Segin in Clarence Creek. A staff outbreak at Rideau Place in Hawkesbury was declared over on Wednesday.
No outbreaks were reported at schools in the area, but one student case was recorded at École secondaire publique Le Sommet in Hawkesbury.
The EOHU recorded only three new cases on Thursday one of which was found in Prescott-Russell. Of the 145 cases active in the region, 34 were in Prescott-Russell, including:
- 8 in Clarence-Rockland;
- 7 in Alfred-Plantagenet;
- 6 in Hawkesbury;
- 4 in Champlain;
- 3 in East Hawkesbury;
- 3 in The Nation;
- 3 in Russell, and;
- 0 in Casselman.
The provincial government is expected to formally announce on Friday which level of Ontario’s colour-coded COVID management system the EOHU will enter next week.