TORONTO — Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Monday that schools will be closed longer than three weeks as the province responds to COVID-19.
“The kids won’t be going back to school on April 6,” he told reporters at a Queen’s Park teleconference about the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“I think everybody in this province knows ... April the 6th is not realistic. We are in a state of emergency.”
Education Minister Stephen Lecce will have more to say in a day or two, Ford added.
Earlier: Ontario rolls out online learning tools. Story continues after video.
A spokesperson for Lecce said Monday that the government is seeking the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health about how long schools should stay closed.
On March 12, Lecce said schools would close for the two weeks following March Break.
He called it a “precautionary measure” to stop the spread of the virus as families come home from travelling abroad.
Since then, Ontario has seen the number of confirmed cases soar from 59 to 503, as of midday Monday. Six Ontarians with COVID-19 have died.
Ford’s Progressive Conservative government has rolled out online learning tools for kids stuck at home. Lecce said Friday that more programming would be made available if school closures are extended.
The premier also announced Monday that all non-essential businesses would be forced to close by midnight Tuesday.
“This is not the time for half measures,” he said.