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WATCH: Province postpones March break to April 12

'Nothing matters more than the health and safety of our school kids,' says education minister

Updated at 2:30 p.m.

Ontario is postponing March Break for school kids until April 12.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce made the announcement on Feb. 11.

The decision was made with the advice of Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health officials, including consultations with many local Medical Officers of Health, said Lecce.

“Nothing matters more than the health and safety of our school kids,” he said in his announcement. “It is critical to continue to prioritize the health and safety of our students, staff and their families so we can continue with the safe return to in-person learning.”

Postponing March Break, not cancelling it, is an important way schools can help limit community transmission, Lecce said.

“We recognize that congregation is a key driver in the spread of COVID-19,” said the health minister. “It’s something we realized over the winter break, and we will not take that risk again. And it’s all the more important as we try to protect our communities from the emerging variants of this disease.”

It’s another change in a year that has already been so challenging for students and staff, but made on best advice of public health officials to keep them safe and to keep schools open, Lecce said.

“Our schools have remained safe for kids, and this move is intended to keep them that way.”

To support the safe return of in-person learning, Ontario has enhanced new measures to continue to protect students and staff against COVID-19 in the classroom. These measures include:

  • Increased provincewide access to targeted asymptomatic testing for students and staff;
  • Mandatory masking requirement for students in Grades 1-3, and masking requirement for Grades 1-12 outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained;
  • Providing 3.5 million high-quality masks to schools as a back-up supply for Grade 1-12 students;
  • Guidance discouraging students and staff from congregating before and after school; and
  • Temporary certification of eligible teacher candidates who are set to graduate in 2021 to stabilize staffing levels.