Schools in Brampton, Caledon, and Mississauga will be closed for the next two weeks, after Peel Public Health issued a Section 22 order under the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act.
Under the order, learning will be remote only beginning 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday and lasting at least until the end of day on April 18. Decisions on whether to extend the order “will be made, as required,” said Peel Public Health in a statement.
“This closure is a necessary step,” said the region’s medical officer of health, Dr. Lawrence Loh in the release. “I know this will be challenging for parents to navigate and we appreciate all the sacrifices parents continue to make as we continue to fight COVID-19 in our community.”
The decision comes as Ontario reported 2,938 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and 3,041 new cases on Sunday. New cases on Monday include 533 in Peel Region, according to Health Minister Christine Elliott.
“This closure will allow students and staff at least two weeks out of schools to break any chains of transmission and protect them from exposure,” Peel Public Health’s statement says. “All April Break spring camps for school-age children will be cancelled.”
The decision follows a weekend of anxiety and speculation about a possible return to remote learning throughout the province, with some school boards urging students and teachers to take learning materials home before the Easter long weekend just in case.
Peel’s decision to close their schools runs contrary to Premier Doug Ford’s decision to keep schools open throughout the province, saying that to close them would be disastrous for children’s mental health.
Licensed child care programs will stay open for children younger than six years old who are not in school programs, per the release.
In a statement, the director of education for the Peel District School Board said it “respects the decision” of the health unit.
“The health and safety of students and staff in schools, along with a strong commitment to student learning, continue to be our main focus,” said Colleen Russell-Rawlins.
She said spring break will happen, as planned, during the week of April 12 to 16.