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A Letter To Parents From The Minister Of Education


Dear Parents,

I am writing to you today exactly two weeks since our government declared a State of
Emergency in the province.

I know this period has not been easy for you or your children, especially as the impacts of
the COVID-19 outbreak begin to have increasing effects on your day-to-day lives and

The battle against COVID-19 has not been easy, but I continue to be incredibly inspired by
the bravery and steadfastness you and your children have demonstrated in our efforts to
stop the spread of this outbreak. Since Cabinet made the decision to close the public
school system on March 12, we have seen cascading steps taken by the public and
private sectors to protect our most vulnerable.

I want to assure you that, as Minister of Education, the health and safety of your children
remains our government’s utmost priority; there is simply no priority more critical. Every
decision we make is rooted in the fundamental commitment to safeguard your children’s
well-being. We are incredibly grateful for the considerable understanding and flexibility you
and your children have shown during this period of school closure.

With that commitment in mind, today our government decided to extend the closure of
public schools in the province to May 4, along with child care centres and private schools
until April 13. In ordinary times, this would be a difficult decision. However, given that
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health concurs that this is in the best interest of you and
your children’s’ health, this decision was clear and obvious.

While this announcement is consistent with public health policy, I know that this will raise
questions about what your children will be doing over the coming weeks with regards to
their education, as in-school instruction will not be taking place.

Today, I was proud to announce our government’s plan for the next phase of Learn at
Home and how we are supporting students, families, and educators during this period.

To start, we have instructed school boards that, by Monday, April 6, teacher-led learning
will resume across the province. Students will begin receiving communication from their
teachers and school board staff this week to determine the best way your child can
continue learning during this period. For our youngest learners, especially, I am asking
you to lend a helping-hand in facilitating these initial conversations with educators when
they begin reaching out. This early communication will help ensure all students can
participate actively and fully in the rich online learning strategy. We have designed the
strategy based on the technology and resources that currently exist at home.

I also know many families in the province may not have access to the technology and
broadband connection needed to participate fully in online learning. To remedy this
situation, our government has instructed local school boards to offer their existing
inventory of computers and devices to students who do not have in-home access. Boards
will work with the Ministry to develop a plan to expand the technology to those who need
it. I also want to recognize that boards have explored alternative options for students’
access to technology, including engaging in regular conversations with
telecommunications providers to determine what options exist to allow families to access
Ontario’s world-leading online learning resources.

This is especially necessary for rural and remote communities where connections might
not be optimal. I will update you as these conversations regarding technology and
broadband options continue to evolve.

As part of this plan for online learning, our government has outlined the minimum
expectations for student work-time in a given week based on learning materials and work
assigned by your student’s teacher. These expectations, for each teacher, include:

  • Kindergarten to grade three: Five hours of work per student per week, with a focus
    on literacy and math;
  • Grades four to six: Five hours of work per week, with a focus on literacy, math,
    science, and social studies;
  • Grades seven to eight: 10 hours of work per week, with a focus on math, literacy,
    science and social studies; and,
  • Grades nine to 12: Three hours of work per course per week for semestered
    students, and 1.5 hours of work per course per week for non-semestered students,
    with a focus on credit accumulation and graduation.

Based on these expectations, this second phase of LearnAtHome will require students to
adopt academic discipline and commitment to ensure that they can experience continued
academic growth and achievement. I know our students are up to the task.

While these are unprecedented times, I encourage you to support and enable your
children to fully commit to the strong learning program we have created for this period of
school closure. Your support, inspiration, and motivation will continue to prepare your
children to succeed in their learning journey.

I know this period is concerning for parents of students in a graduating cohort. I have said
before, and I want to reiterate: no student will have their graduation jeopardized by the
developments of COVID-19. I am working closely with the Honourable Ross Romano,
Minister of Colleges and Universities, and the post-secondary sector. Our government will
ensure students, who plan on entering college or university in September 2020, have our
full support to accomplish this goal.

As students continue to accumulate credits during this closure period, we will provide
further information about how students can align with the post-secondary application
process in the coming weeks.

I understand parents with children who may have special education needs, have concerns
about at-home learning and the physical absence of educational support staff and
resources during this period. I am firmly and unequivocally committed to ensuring that all
students continue to have access to the wrap-around supports that promote continued
learning and development.

Our government has instructed boards to enable immediate restoration of communication
between students and educational assistants, paraprofessionals, and other education
workers to reintroduce the continuity of professional support to students. We will not allow
any student to fall through the cracks during this unprecedented time. My Ministry is
equipping educators with the tools and supports they need to maximize the opportunities
and achievements of all learners in the province in an online setting.

While much of the discourse around COVID-19 focuses on the impacts on physical health,
I want to acknowledge the significant effects this outbreak may be having on the mental
health of Ontarians. Particularly, our youngest learners may be struggling to fully
understand and process what it means to their lives, families, friends, and communities.
This may very well be a time of fear and anxiety for your child, even if it is not readily

While you and your children may have many questions about what the future holds, I want
to express my heartfelt hope that all children know there are a variety of supports to help
process and overcome the multitude of emotions and reactions they may be facing during
this period. Our government has directed school boards to ensure mental health workers
and professional staff are ready to engage with students immediately in a secure and safe
conversation. We continue to support the incredible work being done to provide wrap
around counselling and resources to students across the province.

We have numerous organizations providing critical and professional support for children
facing mental health concerns or distress. For example, Kids Help Phone offers 24/7
counselling and referral services across the province. To use this free resource, children
can call 1-800-668-6868, or text CONNECT to 686868.

As we move forward in the next phase of school closure, the expectations of parents,
guardians, students, educators, and my Ministry will continue to rise. Having already met
countless driven and determined students, educators, and educational workers across the
province, I know that we are ready to meet the challenges ahead.

To you, and your child, I want to extend my sincere and unwavering commitment to
ensuring every student in the province can continue learning in Ontario’s world-class
education system. Our collective commitment to inspiring, supporting, and uplifting our
future leaders during this time is unwavering.


The Honourable Stephen Lecce

Minister of Education

[The original PDF letter can be seen by clicking here]