March Break postponed

·2 min read

March break won’t be happening in March, after all.

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced the province is postponing March Break to the week of April 12, saying the move is intended to keep students safe and limit the community spread of COVID-19. He said the decision was made in consultation with Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams.

Lecce said postponing rather than cancelling the break is “an important way that schools can help to limit community transmission” of the coronavirus and its variants of concern.

“It is of the utmost importance that we do not travel at this time,” said Lecce.

He said he recognizes this is one more change in a year that has been challenging for so many students and education staff. However, the decision was made on the best advice of public health officials to keep them safe and to keep schools open.

“We appreciate the hard work of students and staff in the education sector, and I want to be clear: March break is being postponed, not cancelled,” said Lecce. “To keep schools open, we must keep them free of COVID-19. The actions announced today serve to limit opportunities for congregation -- while reaffirming the evidence that schools are safe for students. By continuing to follow public health advice, and by introducing additional safety measures and more testing, we are supporting our collective efforts to keep COVID-19 from entering our schools.”

Lecce hinted the delay would also limit the temptation of families travelling during March. He added people should refrain from leaving the country for holidays, whether it be now, March or April.

According to John Howitt, Director of Education for the Lambton Kent District School Board, students and their families have been putting in significant effort throughout this entire lockdown and are ready for a break as well.

“For those who perceive that while the schools were closed in January, schooling wasn’t happening, that’s not accurate. Our students were in full-day remote learning, which was taxing not just on our students and the families, but also on our staff,” said Howitt.

Four teachers’ unions decried the postponement in a joint statement on February 11 and called on the government to reverse the move.

“The joint statement states the government’s decision to postpone March Break does not take into consideration the mental health and well-being of those involved.

“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 statement said. “This decision demonstrates their lack of understanding about the stress and pressures of learning and working in a pandemic. Teachers and education workers have gone to extraordinary lengths to teach and support students every day since the start of the school year, whether in person or online.”

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News