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Publicly Funded Schools in Ontario Will Remain Closed to Students Until May 4th

The Province announced today that publicly funded schools will be closed to students until May 4th and they also launched the second phase of Learn at Home, providing resources and education online.

ONTARIO - Publicly Funded Schools in the Province of Ontario will remain closed until at least May 4th.

Premier Ford made the announcement today and said that he would not hesitate to extend the closure if need be. Private schools, and day care centres are also ordered to remain closed for at least two more weeks. 

To ensure continuity of learning, the government is launching the second phase of Learn at Home. Developed in conjunction with education partners, the government is establishing clarity for parents, enhancing education supports, and creating opportunities for teachers and educators to connect with students. 

Ford says these decisions are not made lightly. 

"The decision to extend school closures was not made lightly. We know from the medical experts that the next two weeks will be critical in the fight against COVID-19 and that's why we're taking further action to keep our kids safe and healthy by having them stay home. At the same time, we cannot put the school year in jeopardy. That's why we're providing additional tools for at-home learning and ensuring students from kindergarten to Grade 12 to post secondary education can finish their academic year and get the credits they need to graduate." 

As previously announced, no student will have their graduation compromised by COVID-19 and the Ministry of Education continues to collaborate with the Ministry of Colleges and Universities to ensure that there will be no barriers to accessing post secondary education.

The second phase of Learn at Home features a new set of expectations for the education community, including:

- Reconnecting students with teachers and other school staff, including mental health workers;
- Re-establishing teacher-led learning by grade groupings as follows:
- Kindergarten-Grade 3: five hours of work per student/week (focus on literacy and math)
- Grades 4-6: five hours of work per student/week (focus on literacy, math, science and social studies)
- Grades 7-8: 10 hours of work per student/week (focus on math, literacy, science and social studies)
- Grades 9-12: three hours of work per course per week for semestered students; 1.5 hours of work per course per week for non-semestered students (focus on achieving credits/completion/graduation)
- Leveraging digital resources and identifying alternative forms of teacher-student connectivity, such as phone and mail;
- Developing a program of training for educators to support them in virtual learning delivery;
- Requiring final report cards for all students;
- Prioritizing and supporting students on track to graduate;
- Distributing laptops and/or devices from schools as needed, while observing public health direction;
- Maintaining a responsive posture for health care and community partner requests; and
- Establishing formal COVID-19 working groups with education sector unions to work together, share ideas and to find solutions in the support of students.

On March 21, 2020, Ontario launched Ontario Together, an online portal helping organizations work with the province to meet the challenges of COVID-19. The government will leverage partnerships with the telecommunication sector to provide innovative, low-cost and high-impact solutions to solve the equity challenges facing some students across Ontario. With this resource, the Ministry of Education has posted a new challenge that looks for learning solutions focused on:

- Free or low-cost learning resources and supports for students, parents and educators;
- Access to devices such as computers, tablets and portable wi-fi hotspots for families that need the supports; and
- Other ideas, goods or services, for example, to support mental health and students with special education needs.

You can find more information about Learn From Home online here. 

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