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DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard
DURHAM/KAWARTHA LAKES: The Ontario provincial government has decided to postpone the usual March Break until April.
On Thursday, February 11th, education minister Stephen Lecce announced the break will now occur on the week of April 12th. The break was previously scheduled for the week of March 15th.
“At this time, it is critical we continue to prioritize the health and safety of students, staff and their families, so we can continue with the safe return of in-person learning. Postponing March Break, not cancelling it, is an important way schools can help to limit community transmission. We recognize congregation is a key driver of the spread of COVID-19, something we realized over the winter break. We will not take that risk again with your child, with our staff, [and] with Ontario families,” Minister Lecce said at a press conference.
During a local press conference on Wednesday, February 10th, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit’s (HKPR) Acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Ian Gemmill, spoke in favour of a deferral of the annual break.
“The message it sends to people is, now is not the time to be travelling,” Dr. Gemmill said.
However, the decision was not as popular with teachers’ unions. On Thursday, February 11th, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation put out a joint statement on the decision.
“These are unprecedented times, and this is a much-needed break for students, teachers, education workers, and families who have been under tremendous pressure throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The government’s decision to postpone March Break does not take into consideration the mental health and well-being of those involved,” the statement read.