Ontario schools not reopening this spring, Ford confirms

Friday, 22 May, 2020

The province is starting the first stage of its economic reopening today, giving the green light to retailers, some sports centres, vehicle dealerships, and other businesses to resume.

Although the province's network of government, hospital and commercial labs can process more than 20,000 nasal swab samples daily, they handled just over half that on Wednesday. Some business owners have expressed relief and excitement at the prospect of reopening, while others say they feel it's too early to do so safely. "We're giving you 75 per cent of what you're asking for".

Since then, the province has launched an online learning portal to help students keep up with their studies at home and promised that high school students who had been scheduled to graduate this spring will still do so.

"If you need a face covering, it is critically important people wear one that is appropriate for the situation", said Minister Elliott. Peel Public Health says 169 deaths have occurred in Mississauga. "Student, staff, and school community safety continues to be the top priority for all those involved in operating our education system during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic".

Applicants will "receive relief quickly", Trudeau said.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the province's schools would remain closed until at least September, noting overnight summer camps would also be shuttered for the upcoming season.

Included in the reopening are multi-use fields, off-leash dog areas, outdoor picnic sites, benches and shelters in parks.

As of 10:30 am on May 21, Ontario is reporting 24,187 cases of the novel coronavirus in the province.

There have been another 31 deaths, with the total number of people who have passed away from the virus now at 1,993.

Ford vowed - as he has on several occasions in the past months - to ramp up Ontario's testing levels.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that the risk of infection was something the military knew about going in.

Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has confirmed a total of 432 cases in residents of the region since the pandemic began.

The province is also looking at ways to improve access to technology and internet connectivity, especially for students in rural Ontario.

But Ford suggested that would take too long.

Ford said it was not an easy decision but a necessary one.

There are now 991 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ontario, including 160 patients in intensive care, and 120 patients on a ventilator.

"We are watching the trends like a hawk right now", he said.

Fullerton said a commission is the best way to do a thorough and "expedited" review.

According the Ontario's Ministry of Long-Term Care, the number of LTC homes battling active outbreaks of the virus has also dropped, from 183 Wednesday to 175 Thursday. "It may be a weekend effect", he said Tuesday.

"Families and front-line workers deserve openness", she said.

For now, the work from Bauch and his collaborators remains somewhat academic: as the premier has said repeatedly, the government is not currently considering any kind of regional approach to reopening the economy.