Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce says the province is postponing March Break to the week of April 12, saying at a news conference the move is intended to keep students safe and limit community spread of COVID-19.
Lecce said postponing rather than cancelling the break is "an important way that schools can help to limit community transmission" of the novel coronavirus and its variants of concern.
"It is of the utmost importance that we do not travel at this time," he said later, noting the province doesn't want to see another spike in cases like it did around the December holiday break.
Lecce spoke alongside Health Minister Christine Elliott and Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health.
Students in Ontario have been gradually returning to schools for in-person classes over the last several weeks.The last cohort from regions hardest-hit by COVID-19 — Toronto, Peel and York — are slated to head back to school on Feb. 16.
Earlier this week, the Ontario NDP called on the government to move ahead with the break as planned, saying that both students and educators are burned out from the stresses of online learning and navigating health protocols amid the pandemic.
The province's largest teachers' union has also advocated for the government to keep March Break in place.
Lecce said his decision applies to public schools, but that he is sending a "strong message" to private schools to follow suit.
"We're asking everyone in the education space to work with us," he said.