The Ontario government is considering cancelling March Break for students across Ontario.
The Chief Medical Officer’s recommendation will be given, then the decision will be announced next week.
“My decision point is going to be made exclusively on medical advice,” said Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce. “If they believe that cancelling the break to disincentive travel is in the best interest of public health, I'm going to follow that advice full stop.”
Lecce added that safety, mental health, and well-being are the top considerations.
"I assure you we're not going to put families at risk in Ontario, we're not going to permit any action that could compound the transmission of COVID or these new variants that create risks for our families," said Lecce.
The news comes a day after the government announced the reopening of schools across Ontario, and parents and teachers are concerned.
“I feel like what we are seeing time and time again, is both how inept this government is at dealing with the crisis that we are in, and their complete disdain for teachers, parents, and children,” said Kim Fry, a TDSB teacher who is teaching virtually.
“They just don’t understand what they are doing.”
Fry added that the lack of funding for a safe opening in September, reduction in class sizes, tracing, and proper ventilation systems have all contributed to the reason why Ontario is at this stage.
“Then to cancel March Break, to try and take the attention away from all of their missteps, and all of their errors of judgement is to me not so surprising given the complete lack of capacity or commitment to actually protecting people in Ontario from this deadly virus that we are seeing,” said Fry.
Many people took to Twitter to share their frustration with the education minister and the Ontario government.
— Chantal Mancini (@uniongrrl) February 4, 2021
@Sflecce What's this about maybe cancelling March break? Why instill fear, by toying with your privilege to abuse your power? Do you hate teachers and children that much? What happened to supporting mental health? People need breaks to work effectively. Don't you know that? /1
— Elise Davis 🇨🇦 (@Elise_ekd) February 4, 2021
March Break is a time for students to recharge, take a break from school and be kids.
The fact that cancelling March break is even being considered tells you how much Stephen Lecce actually cares about the mental health of students.
Narrator: He doesn’t. https://t.co/im1eaItU1u
— alice chiavi (@AliceChiavi) February 4, 2021
March Break cancelled! Can you spell collective agreement, Young man @Sflecce? Teachers are working around the clock, adapting to teaching students in a pandemic. #MentalHealthMatters - recharge- refresh - is critical to teaching/ learning
— berylrcohen (@berylrcohen) February 4, 2021
Why would we cancel March Break? Kids have been in school since the Winter Break ended, albeit virtually. Is the Minister of Education suggesting that kids need time to “catchup” with schooling, because virtual learning isn’t the same as in-person? Quite a reversal there...
— Dr. Kiddo Kate (@DrKateTO) February 4, 2021
I’m really confused as to why there are calls to cancel March Break to make up for “lost time”. Then what the hell has my kid been attending on his Chromebook every day? What have teachers been spending countless hours preparing for and delivering online?
— Ontario Dad (@ONT_Dad) February 2, 2021
I’m not sure why cancelling March Break is even a talking point. Educators & students have been doing their best to teach & learn virtually since the switch to virtual learning - some have been in school this entire time. Another example of the devaluing of this work. #onted
— Rebecca Ross-Zaiontz (@RebeccaZaiontz) February 1, 2021
There is no valid reason to cancel March break. The students have not missed any school time, be it in-person or on-line learning. They have had their classes. If the Gov't is so concerned about mental health they should know kids parents & teachers need this break fr studies.
— CanadaMaiden😷🇨🇦 (@MaidenCanadian) February 1, 2021
I think @Sflecce ‘s privilege is shining through. He hears March Break and thinks vacation. The reality is that for the large majority of Ontario students, there is no March Break travel, even in non Covid times. #FireLecce
— Kelly Mills (@klpmills) February 4, 2021
Also tired of “announcement will be made” about March break. Teachers and kids are at their wits’ end. As physicians, we don’t have to wait for #Ontario to make up its mind: We hereby announce that everyone needs a vacation! (And ensure that schools can be safely open afterward.)
— Dr Nili Kaplan-Myrth, MD, PhD, CCFP (@nilikm) February 4, 2021
Fry said parents, students, and teachers are burnt out and need a break.
“Things should not be business as usual,” added Fry. “Teachers have never worked harder in their lives than right now. Bricks and mortar or virtual—never.”