Waterloo region’s schools to remain closed until end of May to curb spread of COVID-19

Publicly funded schools across Waterloo region, like others in the province, will remain closed until the end of May, the province’s education minister announced Sunday.

The Waterloo Region District School Board said it’s not immediately clear what exactly that means for students in the region.

“We are hearing this announcement the same time you are so we ask for patience as we work through details,” the board said in a tweet on Sunday. “More details about student learning will be shared with our families as soon as we receive more information.”

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the move to keep schools closed was based on advice from provincial health officials.

If schools are allowed to reopen on June 1, staff would be permitted access to the schools on May 29.

Private schools, First Nation schools, licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs will remain closed until May 6, the province said.

During a press conference, Lecce says as of right now, there are no plans to extend the school year.

‘Distance learning can’t replace the classroom’

In a post on its website to students and their families on Friday, the Waterloo Region District School Board said the remote learning happening right now “looks, feels, and sounds very different from what you are used to and that questions remain.”

“Distance learning can’t replace the classroom and so we will set expectations accordingly. We all need to keep in mind the challenges distance learning presents,” the post said.

Waterloo Catholic District School Board director of education Loretta Notten and board chairperson Bill Conway wrote an open letter to students and family, which was posted to the board’s website on Thursday.

The letter said report cards will be issued in June with grades. Those grades “will be largely informed by the marks students had attained prior to March 13, but there is every opportunity for those grades to improve based on any work submitted during this time of distance learning, if there is evidence of growth and/or improved performance.”

As well, the Catholic board is planning for all secondary schools to hold graduation ceremonies in the fall.

“As we have said before, it is not ‘business as usual’ but we do hope that students are connecting with their teachers as this is our ‘new normal’ for the time being,” the letter said.

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