No extended winter break for Ontario students, education minister says


Premier Doug Ford is scheduled to hold a news conference beginning at 1 p.m. at Queen’s Park. Ford’s office says he will be joined by the ministers of health and long-term care, as well as the chief medical officer of health.

You can watch it live in this story.


Students in Ontario will not have an extended winter break this year amid the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic gripping parts of the province, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Wednesday.

“We have consulted with the chief medical officer of health as well as the Public Health Measures Table and have determined that an extended winter holiday is not necessary at this time, given Ontario’s strong safety protocols, low levels of transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce said in a news release.

He suggested that yesterday that the government was in talks with health experts about possibly keeping schools for a period in early January. Classes would have continued at the normal time, but would have been conducted virtually. 

Despite “increased rates of community transmission” of the novel coronavirus, Lecce said today in explaining his decision, schools have been “remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks.”

Meanwhile, Ontario reported an additional 1,417 cases of COVID-19 this morning, as well as 32 more deaths linked to the illness — the most on any single day during the second wave of the pandemic that’s currently gripping parts of the province. 

The new cases include 463 in Peel Region, 410 in Toronto and 178 in York Region. 

They push the seven-day average of daily cases, a measure that helps to paint a clearer picture of longer-term trends in the data, to 1,422. 

Other regions that saw double-digit increases include:

  • Halton Region: 63
  • Waterloo: 54
  • Hamilton: 46
  • Durham: 40
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 25
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 23
  • Ottawa: 22
  • Thunder Bay: 20
  • Windsor: 17
  • Southwestern: 14

Toronto, Peel, York, Halton and Hamilton are the public health units currently in the province’s red “control” tier of its colour-coded COVID-19 restrictions framework.

Another six are in the less-stringent orange “restrict” tier:

  • Brant
  • Durham
  • Eastern Ontario
  • Niagara 
  • Ottawa
  • Waterloo
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph

And yet another six are in the yellow “protect” category:

  • Haldimand-Norfolk
  • Huron-Perth
  • Middlesex-London
  • Sudbury
  • Simcoe-Muskoka
  • Southwestern
  • Windsor-Essex

Several parts of Ontario, including Toronto, are under red zone restrictions during the second wave of the pandemic. (Evan MItsui/CBC)

There are currently 12,822 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 provincewide, 110 fewer than yesterday. Today is the first time in about a month that the number of recoveries, 1,495, has outpaced new infections. 

Ontario’s network of labs processed 33,440 test samples, leading public health officials to report a test positivity rate of 4.1 per cent. 

Meanwhile, the number of people in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 climbed to 535, up six from yesterday. Of those, 127 are being treated in intensive care and 78 are on ventilators, three more than yesterday. A total of 38 patients with the novel coronavirus have been admitted to intensive care in the last three days. 

The province’s COVID-19-linked death toll grew to 3,415. The 32 additional deaths reported today is the most on a single day since June 6. 

A total of 29 of the deaths were seniors over the age of 70, while 26 of those 29 were residents in long-term care. 

[Note: All of the figures used in this story are found in the Ministry of Health’s daily update, which includes data from up until 4 p.m. the previous day. The number of cases for any particular region on a given day may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, which often avoid lag times in the provincial system.]  

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