Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Wednesday that schools will remain closed until September, but the announcement isn’t sitting well with everyone.
Ford said schools will stay closed for in-person learning for the rest of the academic school year, meaning the rest of June. The announcement reverses the government's promise to reopen classrooms before the economy.
Ford said it was a hard choice to make, but he doesn’t want to take unnecessary risks with the children because of COVID-19.
"We’re fighting a third wave driven by variants," he said, "but unlike the original strains, we know that some of the variants we’re fighting right now are more dangerous for children. It can make younger people very, very sick."
Ford added that until more students and teachers are vaccinated, outdoor activities are the safest bet. He said it would be irresponsible to put 2 million children in the classroom for eight hours a day.
Dr. Martha Fulford, an infectious disease expert at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, disagrees with Ford’s decision, saying it’s a mark of shame that Ontario is the only province in Canada that has not prioritized the children.
"Children are not at risk from COVID. That risk to your child is negligible," Fulford said, "and this is true with the variants, as well. And for somebody to say that somehow at risk because of a possible variant is not true."
The leader of the opposition New Democratic Party said the Ford government just doesn’t want to spend the money to make schools safer. At least one teachers union said Ford’s government has consistently made students and families an afterthought.