Ontario Begins the 2023-24 School Year 
with a Back to Basics Focus

Dear Parents,

As we welcome students back for another school year, our priority is to deliver a normal, stable and enjoyable year of learning. I’m proud to say that Ontario’s education system has a renewed ‘back to basics’ focus, emphasizing foundational skills like reading, writing and math.

These reforms are supported by record investments in public education. Our government is providing more than $27 billion to school boards for the 2023-24 school year, including $700 million more in base education funding, and $180 million in a new strategy to boost literacy and math rates, supported by the hiring of 2,000 more educators.

Ontario’s government is absolutely committed to keeping kids in class. After reaching a tentative agreement on a process with OSSTF (English public high school teachers), we are again urging all remaining teacher unions to come to the table to sign a deal that ensures a process for uninterrupted learning for the next three years

Through the Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act, 2023, our government is sending a clear signal to school boards that academic achievement is the priority. Through the Act, the Minister of Education will be able to establish additional binding directives to school boards that will be implemented to ensure all schools are focused on academic achievement and skills development, while delivering enhanced accountability and transparency for parents and families.

To ensure we support a stable learning environment with more accountability and a focus on academics, our government has required that all school boards adopt provincial student achievement priorities, including metrics to help measure success:

  • improving EQAO scores in reading, writing and math
  • raising graduation rates, encouraging more students to participate in job skills programs and take senior math and science courses
  • improving student engagement and awareness of mental health supports

New Math and Reading Supports for 2023-24

Reading and math skills are necessary for young people to thrive in tomorrow’s economy. The province is investing $109 million in 2023-24 so that students from Senior Kindergarten to Grade 2 can be screened in early reading. Students who are struggling will be supported by intervention strategies, including up to 900 literacy educators, who will work with those children with the aim of boosting performance.

Additionally, our government has provided $825,000 to Dyslexia Canada and the International Dyslexia Association to develop evidence-based systematic and explicit instruction resources and professional learning supports that are now ready for launch.

Ontario is investing $71 million to launch a new strategy to boost math competence in the classroom. This includes the doubling of math coaches, specialized math educators, along with the introduction of Math Action Teams who will be deployed directly into schools that are behind the provincial average.

New Language Curriculum

The overhauled Language curriculum in English and French includes the introduction of phonics to support reading, cursive writing, critical thinking, and digital literacy skills, aligned with the recommendations in the Ontario Human Rights Commission Right to Read report.

New Financial Literacy Modules

Financial literacy is an essential life skill. For that reason, our government is launching new modules that will help secondary students learn how to create a budget, manage their money, protect themselves from financial scams, and plan for long-term purchases such as buying a house or a car. The Ontario government will provide a further $6.8 million over three years to further support practical, hands-on experiences for students.

New Mental Health Learning and Increased Funding

Good mental health is critically important for academic success. That is why starting this September, new learning materials for Grade 7 and 8 students are being released and will help students build a mental health toolkit. The toolkit will help students learn how to manage stress, understand the relationship between mental health and mental illness and, most importantly, know when and how to get help.

Our government has increased student mental health funding in schools to a historic $114 million in the 2023-24 school year, representing an increase of 555 per cent since 2018.

New Grade 10 Course Digital Technology Course

This new course will equip students to be the leaders of the global economy by further enhancing their coding skills, building hands-on projects, and investigating Artificial Intelligence, cybersecurity, and emerging technologies.

Parents and children are the centre of Ontario’s publicly funded education system. As we begin this new school year, I want to thank all parents and guardians for their commitment, and wish all educators, staff and students the best of luck.

Wishing you a positive year ahead!

The Honourable Stephen Lecce
Minister of Education

End of the 2022-23 School Year

Dear Parents,

As the school year comes to a close, I would like to express my sincere congratulations to every student across Ontario on all they have accomplished.

We’re going back to basics in Ontario schools, including a renewed focus on the foundational skills students need for success in life: reading, writing and math. These changes are designed to help ensure children in Ontario’s schools are learning the skills they need to be ready for the jobs of the future.

That’s why our government made historic investments to education ahead of the 2022-23 school year, including the first and largest publicly funded tutoring support program of its kind in Canada.

As we look forward to September, our government has increased investment in public education to ensure students have the tools they need to turn their dreams into reality.

New Math and Reading Supports for 2023-24

Ontario’s plan to improve reading, writing and math is anchored by an additional $200 million. In practical terms, that means nearly 2,000 new educators with a focus on improving reading, writing and math. To strengthen student achievement, we are expanding financial literacy learning in class and doubling the number of school math coaches and for the first time we are deploying math improvement teams to underperforming schools and boards.

On top of these new investments, we’re unveiling a new language curriculum in English and French that goes backs to basics. Students will now master how to read, while learning other important life skills, like critical thinking and reinstating cursive writing. In addition, our youngest students will for the first time benefit from a screening assessment to measure their reading skills to better support those who are behind.

To ensure students have access to teacher-led tutoring, our government expanded TVO and Centre franco to cover more grades and longer hours to support year-round learning.

New Mental Health Learning and Increased Funding

We all know how important it is to empower students with the tools and supports they need to live happy, healthy and successful lives.

Ontario is leading in Canada by introducing mandatory learning on mental health and well-being. Specifically, that means helping young people develop life skills they can depend on to manage stress and know where to turn when they need support.  

Our government is investing five times more compared to 2018-19 or about $113 million in this 2023-24 school year on Student Mental Health. That includes additional funding over the next three years to continue to expand access and improve the care of Ontario’s students. We will also be funding access to mental health supports over the summer to ensure consistent access year-round for those who need it.

Passage of The Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act, 2023

Parents and students believe our school system needs to re-focus on what matters most: student achievement and a renewed emphasis on mastering the foundational skills of reading, writing, math and STEM. That is why our government introduced The Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act,  which mandates that student achievement and academic success must be the top priority of school boards.

This legislation strengthens parent voices in schools and enhances accountability on school boards. In addition, we will now be able to accelerate the building of schools across Ontario, speed up the certification of new educators, and take action to strengthen our zero-tolerance policy against those who would cause harm to children.

As the school year comes to an end, I want to take a moment to thank every student, parent, educator and staff member for their hard work. Our students continue to shine bright and we are proud of every one of them.

To the class of 2023, you have inspired your community and country. We wish you every success on your journey.

Have a safe and positive summer,

The Honourable Stephen Lecce
Minister of Education

March 28, 2022

Dear Parents,

Ontario entered negotiations with the federal government on a Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care agreement committed to negotiate as long as needed to land the right deal for you and your family – one that was more flexible and more sustainable that included the following principles:

  • Offers financial relief for families with children under five years old in licensed child care.
  • A sustainable program that does not burden future generations.
  • Preserves your choice as a parent for the right child care option for you.
  • Provides optimal flexibility to ensure long term sustainability

We fought for Ontario families and today we are proud to deliver the right deal for your families. The Ontario government signed a historic, $13.2-billion agreement with the Government of Canada that delivers relief to families, and savings are immediate.

Ontario’s deal will lower child care fees and provide more accessible, high-quality child care for you, including delivering an average of $10-a-day child care by September 2025.  Ontario’s schedule to lower fees for parents includes:

  • As a first step, all Ontario families with children five years old and younger in participating licensed child care centres will see their fees reduced, up to 25 per cent, to a minimum of $12 per day, retroactive to April 1, 2022 once a child care operator enrolls in the program.
  • In December 2022, parents will see another reduction.  In total, fees for families will be reduced, on average, by 50 per cent by the end of this year, relieving parents of $1.1 billion in child care costs.
  • In September 2024, families will see further fee reductions, culminating in a final reduction to an average of $10-a-day child care by September 2025.

We know that more affordable, reliable child care enables you to go to work with peace of mind, knowing your children are growing and flourishing in safe environments that support learning, development and well-being.

Our government has always been committed to building an early years and child care system that meets the needs of children, families, service providers and child care staff. Our goal was to get a deal that works for Ontario and recognizes our province’s unique position, including having among the highest child care fees, the largest proportion of child care–aged children in Canada, and a fully funded, full-day kindergarten program for four- and five-year-olds.

Under the former government, child care costs rose to the highest levels across the country. Since then, our government has taken action to deliver real relief for Ontario families with our Ontario Child Care Tax Credit (CARE), helping an estimated 300,000 families each year with up to 75% of their eligible child care expenses so they can work, run a business or study to acquire new skills. We will continue to provide this relief for families.

Together, through the Ontario Child Care Tax Credit (CARE), affordable child care options, and all-day kindergarten, Ontario parents are provided with a full array of options, benefits and supports for early years and child care

In the coming weeks, our government will work with municipalities to enroll over 5,200 child care centres and home child care settings in the new program. Rebates to parents retroactive to April 1 will begin in May and follow the enrolment of centres and home child care agencies into the new program. Parents do not need to proactively enrol,  as your licenced child care provider will be in touch.

As we chart our path forward, Ontario families will realize maximum benefit from this exciting transformation. We will communicate more details, including specific timelines and eligibility requirements, soon. In the meantime, you can visit www.ontario.ca/childcareplan to read more about the Canada-Ontario child care agreement.

Thank you, Ontario families, for your support in advancing the right deal for families that will give your child the best possible start in life. By standing firm, we were able to deliver the right deal for Ontario families that includes billions in additional funding and a longer agreement that respects all parents and provides financial support for all families.


The Honourable Stephen Lecce
Minister of Education

January 18, 2022

Dear Parent or Guardian,

We know how critical in-person learning is to the mental health, well-being and academic success of Ontario students. As we meet the challenge presented by the Omicron variant, we are building upon Ontario’s cautious and leading plan to protect in-person learning.

Ontario students and children have benefitted from continuous efforts to protect schools and child care settings, including high-quality masks, enhanced cleaning and improvements in air ventilation in every school – with more than 70,000 HEPA filter units and other ventilation devices deployed. In December 2021, Ontario sent a total of 11 million rapid antigen tests home with students to help protect against the spread of COVID‑19 and to support the return to in-person learning in 2022. Since the winter break, we have distributed millions more rapid antigen tests to students as well as staff in publicly funded schools, with each student going home with two rapid antigen tests over the coming weeks.

We are taking nothing for granted. Health and safety in our schools and child care settings remains a top priority and we continue to monitor to ensure that every precaution is taken to protect children, students and staff and to keep our schools and child care settings as safe as they can be.

To further protect schools, the Ontario government will provide rapid antigen tests for students and staff in public elementary and secondary schools, along with children and staff in child care settings. More than 3.9 million rapid antigen tests are dedicated for school boards this week, with additional tests to be delivered next week. The use of the tests is for symptomatic individuals, who will be required to take two rapid tests 24 hours apart – where both tests are negative, and with symptoms improving for 24 hours, individuals can return to class. Information is included in the school and child care screener and we ask that all students and staff screen daily and follow the screening guidance.

Ontario’s schools are also benefitting from high rates of vaccination. We thank students, parents and staff for helping to keep our schools and child care settings as safe as possible by getting vaccinated. With 400 school-focused clinics to date, Ontario has one of the highest rates of vaccination in Canada. More than 86.5 per cent of youth aged 12 to 17 have received a first dose of the COVID‑19 vaccine and nearly 83 per cent have received a second dose, while 50.1 per cent of Ontario children between ages 5 and 11 have received their first dose of the COVID‑19 vaccine. School-based clinics are also being launched when students return to in-person learning to support additional access points for students and families, including targeted clinics to take place during instructional hours in schools selected by local PHUs and school boards. For these specific schools, parents will receive a form in the coming days offering the opportunity to safely and conveniently provide public health units the authority to vaccinate their child at a school-based vaccine clinic. These clinics are in addition to many options available to families including through mass vaccination clinics, pharmacies and through primary care.

We encourage everyone who is eligible for a vaccination or booster to get vaccinated to further protect students because this is the best way to keep schools open and as safe as possible. It is natural to have questions about the vaccine. Parents or guardians with questions can reach out to the SickKids COVID‑19 Vaccine Consult Service at www.sickkids.ca/vaccineconsult, or 1-888-304-6558 to book a consultation. The consultation service is available in multiple languages, using over-the-phone language interpretation. Parents and caregivers can also contact the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 to receive more information from a health specialist.
In response to the highly transmissible Omicron variant, Ontario is putting in place additional health and safety measures to create more layers of protection to keep schools as safe as possible for in-person learning, which is critical to the positive mental health and academic success of students.

These include:

  • Updating the COVID‑19 school and child care screener ahead of the return to school in January 2022 and asking students, parents and staff for rigorous screening and monitoring of symptoms
  • Provision of rapid antigen test kits for staff and students to use when symptomatic
  • Providing non-fit-tested N95 masks for staff in schools and licensed child care settings as an optional alternative to medical/surgical masks, and additional supply of high-quality, three-ply cloth masks that are strongly encouraged and free for students and children
  • Deploying an additional 3,000 stand-alone HEPA filter units to school boards, building on the existing 70,000 HEPA filter units and other ventilation devices already in schools
  • Inspecting and improving all mechanical ventilation systems using the highest grade filters and making improvements to optimize air quality and flow.
  • Temporarily permitting only low-contact indoor sports and low-intensity extracurricular activities
  • Supporting the projected hiring of more than 2,000 staff, funded by a $304-million allocation for the second semester that includes additional teachers and custodians
  • Implementing stricter lunch and recess cohort requirements and elevated cleaning requirements at all schools
  • Opening and supporting additional vaccination clinics with accelerated access for education and child care staff.

By working together, we can help Ontario students achieve a successful continuation of in-person learning this winter. Please take a moment to review a few key important reminders or visit Ontario’s website to learn more about COVID‑19.


Dr, Kieran Moore
Chief Medical Officer of Health

Stephen Lecce
Minister of Education

Important Information for Parents

If you have symptoms of COVID‑19

Individuals who are vaccinated, as well as children under 12 who have symptoms of COVID‑19 will be required to isolate for five days following the onset of symptoms. These individuals can end isolation after five days if their symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours, and all public health and safety measures, such as masking and physical distancing, are followed.

Individuals who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or immunocompromised will be required to isolate for 10 days.

All household contacts must also isolate for the same duration as the person with symptoms, regardless of their vaccination status. If you have symptoms of COVID‑19, you should also consider informing close contacts beyond your household contacts.

If you have concerns about your symptoms, contact your doctor, health care provider or Telehealth for more information and guidance. If you develop severe symptoms requiring medical attention, such as shortness of breath or chest pain, call 911.

If you do not have symptoms of COVID‑19 but are feeling unwell, isolate until symptoms have improved for at least 24 hours.

If you’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID‑19

If you are fully vaccinated, have no symptoms, and do not live with the positive case, you are advised to:

  • Self-monitor for symptoms for 10 days since you last interacted with the positive case
  • Maintain masking, physical distancing and adherence to all other public health measures if leaving home
  • Not visit any high-risk settings or individuals who may be at higher risk of illness (e.g., seniors) for 10 days from your last exposure.

If you are not fully vaccinated, or are immunocompromised, you must isolate immediately for 10 days (or 5 days if under 12 years old and not immunocompromised) following your last contact.

Regardless of vaccination status or age, if you live with the positive case, you must isolate for the length of their isolation period.

If you live, work, attend, volunteer or have been admitted in a high-risk health care setting, you must notify your employer and should not visit the high-risk setting for 10 days since your last exposure or symptom onset, or from your date of diagnosis. To ensure sufficient staffing levels, workers in these settings will have the opportunity to return to work early on day seven of their isolation with a negative PCR test, or two negative rapid antigen tests on day six and seven. If you live in a high-risk setting, you should isolate regardless of vaccination status.

If you have had a positive COVID‑19 test (PCR or antigen) in the last 90 days, collected on or after December 20, 2021, and are asymptomatic, you do not have to self-isolate as a close contact or household contact, and you can continue to work, attend or volunteer in a highest-risk health care setting.

If you have COVID‑19 based on a positive test result

If you test positive from a PCR, rapid molecular or a rapid antigen test and you are fully vaccinated or under 12 years of age (and not immunocompromised), you must isolate for five days from the positive test result if you have no symptoms or five days from symptom onset and until your symptoms are improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms) and you don’t have a fever.

If you are partially vaccinated, unvaccinated or immunocompromised, you must isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, or from the date of your test (whichever came sooner), and until your symptoms are improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms) and you don’t have a fever.

In addition, household contacts of individuals who have tested positive must also self-isolate during this time. Individuals must isolate regardless of their vaccination status.

You should also notify your close contacts. A close contact is anyone you were less than two metres away from without personal protective equipment for at least 15 minutes, or multiple shorter lengths of time, in the 48 hours before your symptoms began or your positive test result, whichever came first.

How to Access Supports While Isolating

If you require assistance while isolating, visit COVID‑19: Support for people. People can also contact their public health unit for many isolation supports including:

  • Use of isolation facilities
  • Referral to community supports and agencies
  • Mental health supports
  • Courier and delivery supports for food and necessities
  • Additional resources available to support isolation through the High Priority Communities strategy.

September 3, 2021

Dear Ontario Parents,

We hope your summer is going very well. With the return to in-person learning this September, we are excited to see students heading back to class for a more normal learning experience – alongside their friends and teachers. We know that in-person learning is essential for the mental and physical health, academic achievement, and overall well-being of our young people.

Developed in consultation with medical experts, including the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and in review of the Provincial Science Table report, the measures we are taking are designed to keep students as safe as possible when at school.

In the 2021-22 school year, students across the province will:

  • Return to in-person learning for the full school day, though synchronous remote learning will remain an option;
  • Learn in classrooms supported by physical distancing, and enhanced cleaning;
  • Be able to participate in extracurricular activities, clubs, music, and the arts, as well as a full range of sports within the school and through inter-school sport activities with some modifications; and 
  • Benefit from improved ventilation and other air quality infrastructure upgrades, including HEPA units in all kindergarten classrooms and in all learning spaces that are not connected to mechanical ventilation systems.

More details of the plan are available on the Ministry of Education’s website.

In addition, our government is working with public health units and publicly funded school boards to plan and host voluntary vaccination clinics in or nearby schools to continue to fight COVID‑19. Clinics are expected to run before school starts and during the first few weeks of school. The program is part of the province’s last mile strategy to target those who have yet to receive a first or second dose and will provide accessible and convenient access to voluntary vaccines for eligible students and their families, as well as educators and school staff who are returning to school this fall.

We are dedicating more than $80 million in funding for student mental health supports. That’s more than four times the investments made in 2017-18 under the previous government.

Making Ontario’s return to school as safe as possible is supported by significant investments, including more than $1.6 billion in targeted COVID‑19 supports, and $85.5 million in learning recovery and renewal to help students overcome any learning gaps the pandemic has created.

Improving air quality in schools is critically important for keeping school communities safe from COVID‑19. That’s why I’m proud to add that our government has invested more than $600 million to improve school ventilation systems, following emerging scientific advice throughout the pandemic. That’s on top of the $1.4 billion in annual funding we provide to school boards to renew school facilities, including HVAC and windows.

Improvements to ventilation have been made across all schools and all boards in Ontario. In total, we will have provided over 70,000 standalone HEPA filtration units and other ventilation devices to keep classrooms safe.

To improve air quality at schools with mechanical ventilation, we are instructing boards to use the highest-grade filters – MERV-13 where possible –  perform more frequent filter changes, operate air systems longer, and calibrate HVAC systems for maximum air flow and fresh air intake. For our youngest learners in junior and senior kindergarten, we are placing a standalone HEPA filter in their classrooms – regardless of whether or not the school has mechanical ventilation – as an added layer of protection. In the interest of transparency, we will provide school boards with a standardized public reporting tool on ventilation improvements.

Our government will continue to work closely with the education sector and medical experts to help ensure that the safety, well-being, and academic success of students remains front and centre. As part of that commitment, the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health has released updated guidance to local public health units on the management of COVID‑19 cases, contacts, and outbreaks. The guidance covers key topics associated with the management of COVID‑19 in school settings, including guidance for managing symptomatic individuals, probable and confirmed cases, and suspected and confirmed outbreaks.

Our vaccine rollout continues. Vaccines are our best defence against COVID‑19 and variants, and will help protect our students, our loved ones, and our communities from illness. And as Ontario’s Minister of Education, my top priority will always be the health and safety of the province’s students, educators, and parents. I thank all of you for the patience and resilience you have demonstrated through some very challenging times. Let’s continue our positive momentum and keep working together to ensure our kids are safe, as they enjoy a well-deserved, more normal school year.

I wish everyone a safe and happy return to school.


The Honourable Stephen Lecce
Minister of Education

April 25, 2021

Dear Ontario Parents,

There is no question that Ontarians have shown incredible fortitude and determination throughout this pandemic. It has been a difficult period, filled with unexpected challenges and financial pressures. That is why, since the beginning of the pandemic, our government has stepped up to provide Ontario families with direct financial support.

I am pleased to remind you that we are now increasing that support by doubling the next round of payments to parents through the Ontario COVID-19 Child Benefit. Under this new round of funding, parents will receive $400 for each child aged 0 to Grade 12 and $500 for children and youth 21 years old or younger with special needs. This doubles the payments in the last round under the previous Support for Learners program.

Parents who received Support for Learners payments will automatically receive the new benefit starting April 26, 2021. Parents who did not apply for or receive the Support for Learners program can apply for the new funding starting May 3 to May 17. More details on how to apply for this new round will be available in the coming weeks on the new Ontario COVID-19 Child Benefit web page. 

This investment is part of the 2021 Ontario Budget, focused on protecting people’s health and our economy. The Ontario government remains steadfast in its commitment to do everything it can to fight COVID-19, ensure the safety of our students and staff, and lay the foundation for a strong economic recovery.

COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of our society, but we recognize that the pandemic has been particularly challenging for parents with school-age children. That’s why, throughout this pandemic, our government has flowed money quickly into the hands of parents, recognizing that families need and deserve some assistance right now – and that parents know best the needs of their family.

The arrival of vaccines means that there is hope on the horizon.


The Honourable Stephen Lecce
Minister of Education

Week of April 11, 2021

Dear Ontario Parents:

As our province's fight against COVID-19 continues and April break begins, I want to take this opportunity to update you on the Ontario government's efforts to keep schools safe and open. I also want to express my heartfelt thanks for the incredible strength and resilience shown by our students, education staff, and your families during this challenging period.

During the provincial emergency brake and the provincial stay-at-home order, all publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools will remain open for in-person learning with strict health and safety measures in place, except in those regions where local public health units have directed schools in their areas to pivot to remote learning.

As Premier Ford has said many times, our priority remains keeping schools safe and open for in-class instruction because learning is critical to the continued development and mental health of our children.

With appropriate public health and safety measures in place, Dr. David Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, has been clear that schools remain safe. In fact, Ontario has one of the lowest case rates for young people under 19 years old in Canada. This is due to Ontario parents leading by example by following the rules, as well as a comprehensive safety plan that has ensured that more than 99 per cent of students and staff do not have an active case of COVID-19. In fact, since September, 99.2 per cent of students and 98.7 per cent of staff never reported an active case.

With that said, we are not taking anything for granted. To ensure a safe return from April break, we are adding additional layers of protection, including:

  • on-site confirmation of screening of all students and staff
  • enhanced cleaning and disinfecting during the April break
  • province-wide asymptomatic testing expansion
  • voluntary health and safety refresher training upon return from April break
  • outdoor learning whenever possible

Under the Ontario government's plan, expanded access to asymptomatic testing is available for students and staff at pharmacies that offer testing and in 180 assessment centres across the province for the week of April 12 to 18, 2021. Children attending child care, and child care staff, will also be eligible to access this testing.

To best protect education staff and students, we are accelerating access to the vaccine. While supply remains a challenge, as of April 12, 2021, eligible education workers who provide direct support to students with special education needs across the province, and all education workers in select hot spot areas, starting in Toronto and Peel, will be eligible to register for vaccination.

I want to reiterate, that as you and people you know receive the vaccine, it is important that everyone continue to wear a mask and maintain physical distancing when outside of their immediate household. Additionally, I encourage you to continue monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested if symptoms are present. Ontario's Ministry of Health has created a fact sheet with more advice on staying safe after you have been vaccinated.

I am appealing to every one of you – recognizing the fatigue many have after more than a year of sacrifice – to remain vigilant. The trends are worrisome and the case numbers are rising. We cannot be complacent, because if we let our guard down, school safety can be compromised. I am therefore asking you all to continue to lead by example by strictly following the rules, including taking a zero-tolerance approach to congregating with those outside your household.

We are supporting student mental health in many ways, including by more than doubling funding to hire more psychologists, psychotherapists and mental health workers in schools. Those supports continue to be available to students at this critical time, both in-person and remotely. School Mental Health Ontario has developed a variety of online mental health resources for parents and families that can help support your child.

We also recognize parents have faced hardship. We continue to meet regularly with our Parent Involvement Committee Chairs and board leads responsible for parent engagement to hear of successes, challenges, and anticipated needs. Our government will work to ensure our schools are safe for in-person learning, while increasing financial support to families during this global pandemic. For that reason, I'm pleased to confirm to parents that our government is again providing direct payments to parents, as part of the expanded Ontario COVID-19 Child Benefit.

The new $980-million program doubles the direct one-time funding to parents to $400 per child up to Grade 12, and $500 for a child or youth with special needs. Starting April 26, these payments will be provided automatically to parents who received previous Support for Learners payments. Parents who did not apply for or did not receive the Support for Learners payment are encouraged to apply for the Ontario COVID-19 Child Benefit during the period of May 3 to 17.

As more and more people get vaccinated, I am confident that Ontario will defeat this pandemic, so long as we remain united in our resolve to listen to public health advice, follow safety protocols and support each other. Your children are Ontario's greatest strength and source of inspiration. It is for them that we must continue to work together to save lives, to protect our communities, and ensure students can return to class, where they belong.

Please stay safe and positive,

Stephen Lecce
Minister of Education

January 2, 2021

Dear Ontario Parents,

It has been a trying year for all Ontarians. Yet, through the greatest challenges we faced, our province – most especially inspired by our students, parents and education staff – came together. Unified in our effort to stop the spread and save lives.

Thank you for your dedication. We believe so strongly that schools are essential to the well-being, mental health and development of a child, and therefore, must be safeguarded at all costs to ensure they can remain open for safe in-class instruction.

Protecting what matters most

As we face rising case numbers, the government announced a Provincewide Shutdown that put in place time-limited public health and workplace safety measures to help ensure our schools remain safe, to stop the spread of COVID-19 transmission in communities, and to save lives.

Now, while leading medical experts have been clear that schools are not a source of rising community transmission, we can and will be an important part of the solution to save lives from COVID-19.

That is why we are following the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health by taking proactive and preventative action to protect schools following the holiday break.

As part of these new restrictions, elementary and secondary school students across the province will learn remotely for the first week of January, as everyone can play a part in staying home and stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Recognizing the importance of in-person learning, students will return to class across the province in January:

  • Elementary school students enrolled in in-person learning will return to class on January 11, 2021;
  • Secondary school students enrolled in in-person learning in northern Public Health Units will also return to class on January 11, 2021;
  • Remaining secondary school students enrolled in in-person learning across the remainder of Public Health Units will return to class on January 25, 2021.

Elementary and secondary students currently enrolled in remote learning will continue to learn remotely throughout January.

Supporting quality online learning

Our government has made every effort to prepare for schools transitioning temporarily to remote learning. We have directed that a minimum standard for grades 1 to 12 of 75% of your child’s 300 minutes of daily instruction is to be delivered by live “Zoom-style” (i.e. synchronous learning). To ensure a better learning experience, every teacher in this province received mandatory training on remote learning, before the school year began.

Ontario stands alone in creating a comprehensive online learning management system that ensures teachers can engage students in live, synchronous learning, send and receive assignments, and participate in discussions in a secure environment.

We have also prepared for this by supporting the purchase of over 150,000 new devices for students to support remote learning, and over 8,000 connectivity devices for students unable to access internet at home.

We know some students with special education needs cannot be supported through remote learning. That is why I have directed school boards to provide for in-person learning for these exceptional cases, ensuring these children receive consistency and full supports through this difficult period. We are committed to their safety and success.

Financial relief for parents

Learning from home means extra costs for many families. We will continue to deliver support to families during this pandemic. In fact, we are on track to deliver nearly $800 million in direct financial relief to parents and guardians – where it belongs, to be quite frank. That is why we launched the Support for Learners program in the first place – to support families with children aged 0 to 12 with $200 per child and $250 per child up to age 21 with special education needs. If you haven’t already applied, you can still apply for this one-time financial support up to the extended deadline of February 8, 2021.

We are also expanding this program to include financial supports for high school students, recognizing added costs from technology to internet for these parents while their kids stay home for a longer period. Starting on January 11, 2021, families with students aged 13 to grade 12 can apply for a one-time payment for their children up until February 8, 2021. The expanded program will now cover:

  • $200 for each child up to grade 12, including students in secondary school who are over 18;
  • $250 if the child or youth is 21 years or under with special needs.

Enhancing child care safety

While child care will remain open for the duration of these time-limited public health actions, we are enhancing the already strict screening requirements and safety protocols to ensure they remain safe places for your children. This includes child care offered in licensed child care centres, in licensed home child care, in extended day programs, and by authorized recreational and skill-building providers.

In response to the needs of frontline health and emergency workers who have school-aged children and may require support during this period, we are implementing a targeted emergency child care program, at no cost to eligible parents, from January 4 to 8, 2021.

Keeping schools safe into 2021

I want to reassure parents that according to the province’s leading doctors, our schools are safe, with eight out of ten schools in this province having no cases of COVID-19 and based on board reporting, 99.64% of students have not reported a case of COVID-19. The province has experienced a safe reopening because we developed a comprehensive, nation-leading plan in partnership with experts in the medical community.

Our strength through this pandemic has been the resilience of our students, hard work of our staff, collaboration with parents, and commitment of government to step up our response every step of the way. To ensure our schools remain safe in January 2021 and beyond, we will continue and enhance testing in schools and allocate a new and significant investment in school safety, including in enhanced air quality, more PPE, and additional staffing and cleaning. We will do whatever it takes to ensure our kids can continue to learn.

This pandemic has impacted every corner of our province. When I say that the health and safety of our kids is my top priority, I am also thinking of their mental health. This has been a uniquely challenging period – it has been accompanied by feelings of anxiety, isolation, and anguish.

That is why we have nearly doubled mental health investments this year to unprecedented levels in the province’s history, for our students and staff, to ensure they know we are here for them. Those services will continue while students learn from home. The priority right now remains the health of your child, which is why we want to make clear the expanded mental health supports are available.

To access these mental health resources, please visit www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-support-students-and-parents#section-5.

Let’s remain hopeful

I remain optimistic that 2021 will be a better year with the vaccine coming online. Students are looking to all of us – parents, educators, school boards and government – to instill confidence in their hearts. To demonstrate a collective resolve to win this battle against this invisible global threat. And I assure you – we will continue to work together and work around the clock to protect your child, their learning experience, and safety. Nothing matters more.

By sticking together and by following public health directives, we will overcome this difficulty with hope, unity, and optimism.


The Honourable Stephen Lecce
Minister of Education

August 26, 2020

Dear Parents,

We are committed to ensuring the return to school is safe for students, teachers and staff. Our comprehensive plan for reopening schools leads the country in robust public health protocols and per-pupil funding.

Money will be going towards personal protective equipment (PPE), enhanced cleaning of our schools and buses, improving ventilation, and hiring more cleaning and teaching staff. We are also adopting additional public health protocols for our schools, such as the hiring of up to 500 public health nurses, an aggressive mandatory masking policy for grades 4-12, and a surveillance testing strategy on our secondary school students. We believe these measures are essential to ensure a successful return to our classrooms.

Earlier today, our government announced the details of how we will prevent and minimize COVID-19 outbreaks in our schools and keep our kids safe. This document has been informed by advice from leading medical and scientific experts – including the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Our government's back-to-school plan is being further enhanced by additional federal investments and resources to support the return to class in the fall. Today's federal announcement provides $381 million to Ontario, on top of the nearly $900 million provided by the province to support provincial back-to-school plans.

I am also pleased to confirm that Dr. Dirk Huyer has been appointed as Coordinator, Provincial Outbreak Response to lead the province's efforts to respond to any challenges within our schools.

Here's what you need to know:

  • A protocol has been developed to deal with students who become ill while they are at school, including isolation, and providing PPE to the ill student and staff attending to them.
  • Parents are being asked to screen their children every day before school, and if they are ill, to keep them home.
  • If someone in a school, whether that be a student, or staff member, tests positive for COVID-19, the school community is properly notified. Immediate and rigorous contact tracing kicks in.
  • Where required, class cohorts will be recommended for testing, sent home, or the school will be closed until public health officials determine it is safe for students and staff to return.
  • There will be a clear communications process followed, so you will know if a student or staff member in your child's school tests positive for COVID-19.
  • School boards will work closely with public health units to communicate updates in real time and determine whether a class or school must be closed.
  • Led by Public Health Ontario, the government intends to surveillance test asymptomatic secondary students in our schools.
  • On top of having public health nurses in our schools, education staff will have completed rigorous professional development on health and safety.

We are being cautious, we are implementing extra health and safety measures and we are investing the necessary dollars. As the Premier and I have said before: we will do whatever it takes, and we will be there for the safety, protection, and well-being of Ontario's students.

While the public health situation across Ontario continues to evolve, the one constant is the united effort of parents, students, and school staff to keep our communities and province safe. We are all doing our part, and it is truly remarkable to see the work that can be accomplished as we flatten the COVID-19 curve across Ontario.

We have increased investments in mental health because we know how difficult this period has been on your child. We will continue to ensure access to supports are available, and that our schools continue to represent inclusion, compassion, and optimism in the hearts and minds of all our students.

Thank you, Ontario's parents, for all that you do each and every day – as we work together for the safety and success or our children this school year, and well into the future.


The Honourable Stephen Lecce,
Minister of Education

July 30, 2020

Dear Parents –

I hope you and your families are continuing to stay healthy and strong as the province continues to fight against the COVID-19 virus.

It has been just over four months since I first wrote to you after the government's decision to close schools and protect the lives of students, families, and the communities where they live and work. A lot has changed in these past four months. However, the one constant is the united effort of parents, students, and families to keep our communities and province safe.

The public health situation across the province has clearly evolved, and I am very proud that in recent weeks the trend has been in a positive direction. From the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, every action we have taken has been guided by the underlying principle of keeping your children safe, and by extension the safety of yourselves and your communities as well. Clearly, we all have an important role to play.

The plan we unveiled today, following the advice of Canada's leading medical and scientific experts – including the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Hospital for Sick Children, and the COVID-19 Command Table – sets out guidelines that will allow students across the province to safely return to class in September. These include:

  • the full reopening of all publicly funded elementary schools five days a week
  • allowing most secondary schools to reopen with an adapted model, with those in lower risk communities reopening five days a week
  • ensuring you have a choice for in-class or online learning, and the latitude to change that decision throughout the year

The best available medical advice tells us that we need to get our children back in our schools. We know that COVID-19 has taken a profound toll on Ontario's students.

Earlier today, the Premier and I unveiled our plan to get your kids back into the classroom with incredible new supports and resources in place to make sure they are as safe and supported as possible.

The government is providing over $300 million to purchase masks and personal protective equipment, add new teaching positions, provide enhanced cleaning supplies and more staff for schools and school busses, and health and safety professional development for all staff.

Moreover, Ontario will be unique in providing a mobile network of 500 public health nurses that will be deployed in regions with higher risks, to support improved screening, testing, and medical support in our schools. Finally, Ontario Public Health will be conducting surveillance testing on asymptomatic secondary school students to strengthen our response, and to better understand the risk.

The full suite health and safety protocols unveiled today are strong, informed by medical science, and will be flexible to respond to the changing threat of COVID-19. I can assure you we stand ready to respond to the changing reality of this virus.

This guidance will keep students safe by providing clarity around:

  • self-screening
  • enhanced hand hygiene for students and staff
  • mandatory masking for grades 4 to 12
  • PPE for teachers and staff and a reserve of cloth masks for students who may need one
  • aggressive cohorting (or grouping) of students to reduce interaction outside of class;
  • distancing
  • enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of school facilities and busses along with the hiring of 900 additional custodians
  • restrictions on visitors
  • pre-registration to aid in controlled reopening

We will continue to invest in student mental health, which we all know is a critical need for students as they return to school after months of uncertainty and anxiety caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. This year alone, we are investing $20 million in additional funding, so that boards can deliver proactive supports for students who need them. Students will have unprecedented access to mental health staff and supports, and we will invest a record-level $50 million this year.

The school restart plan also provides important supports for students with special education needs, including a requirement that they be in class 5 days a week both in elementary and secondary schools. Experts have been clear, consistency is important, and that is what we will deliver for these children.

As we have said all along, we will never waver in our commitment to Ontario's students. By working together we can ensure that they are set up for success, not just for this year, but well into the future.

I want to thank you, Ontario's parents, for your hard work, input, and joint-commitment to ensuring a safe return to school in September.


The Honourable Stephen Lecce,
Minister of Education

June 19, 2020

Dear Parents—

I write to you as we are just a couple weeks away from the official end to the 2019-2020 school year. Despite the challenges that we have all faced in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, I have been inspired by your determination and spirit. I know that it has not been easy, but your commitment to supporting your children over the last several months has been reaffirming, constructive and exceptionally encouraging. We will continue to safeguard the well-being of your children and preserve the continuation of learning. Your role as parents and guardians is critical to making this a reality.

We know that the start to the next school year may not look or feel the same as it did just 10 months ago.

Earlier today, I announced our government's plan for the safe reopening of schools. While Ontario is clearly on a positive trajectory in terms of our response to the COVID-19 outbreak, my objective is to make sure that the education system is safely prepared for all potential scenarios come September. With that in mind, I have directed all school boards to plan for three scenarios:

  • a return to conventional, regular classroom instruction, with health and safety requirements
  • a continuation of remote learning, including the use of live, synchronous online instruction
  • an adapted delivery model that enables students to return to class with blended virtual learning, that includes health and safety requirements that will limit the maximum number of students to 15 per class

We hope that public health situation will continue to improve and allow school boards to enter a conventional classroom experience, once it is safe to do so. Local and regional health authorities – in conjunction with a Ministry of Education established table of medical experts – will help shape the way forward, to ensure the realities on the ground within your communities are best reflected.

While school boards will develop their plans based on the ministry's guidance, I want to express some of the underlying principles that we used in issuing these instructions to boards.

First, we must recognize that choice that you as parents must have. You made this clear to me, and we are ensuring you get to make that choice. Any participation in in-person class will be voluntary. We will strengthen our Learn At Home program, provide greater access to technology for more families, and stand-up for regularized, synchronous live learning that clearly benefits your child. Our government will continue to stand up for parents and insist on this impactful experience.

Second, this plan was developed with the health and safety of your child, staff, and your families as our top priority. It is why the government announced net new funding for cleaning, cleaning protocols, and financial support to hire additional custodial staff in September, to ensure schools are safe. It is also why our plan was created following extensive consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, health experts on the COVID-19 Command Table, medical experts at The Hospital for Sick Children, education sector partners, front-line workers, parents and students.

Third, our government is investing in record levels to support student mental health. We are investing $10 million in new additional funding for the coming school year alone, to help school boards ensure they are proactively supporting students given the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and well-being. This year, students will have unprecedented direct access to regulated mental health professionals, as our government invests a record nearly $50 million in support of student well-being. Medical experts have been clear, there is a need for enhanced mental health supports to respond to COVID-19. This funding can be used by school boards to hire additional mental health workers to support students through this adversity, reduce wait times, and improve access to critical services, that we know students deserve.

The school restart plan also prioritizes supports for students with special education needs, including advance planning for a smooth transition to school, a requirement that Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and Identification, Placement and Review Committees (IPRCs) are followed, along with the direction that boards plan for full-time in-class instruction for students with the most significant levels of needs. We are also asking boards to work with local partners including Children's Treatment Centres so that students have access to the supports they need to succeed.

Fourth, we saw families rise to the challenge and adapt quickly while we rolled out the Learn at Home program. This plan will provide new online course content and digital tools, and provide other resources for educators to support continuous learning for students in the coming school year. We also know that we must do more to so that all students have greater access to technology, and for all schools have access to internet.

This week, I announced $15 million to assist school boards in purchasing devices and further embracing the digital age. This new funding will be directed to securing up to 35,000 classroom computers and ensuring students have the tools to succeed in the upcoming school year.

Fifth, today I announced that the government is spending more in education than ever before. This year, the Grants for Student Needs has increased by a record $736 million. We are investing record amounts in mental health, special education, technology, and overall – every school board will benefit from a funding increase – as we prepare for the year ahead.

We will never waver in our commitment to Ontario's students – to their health and safety – to supporting them on their learning journey – and to set them up to succeed for the future.

Thank you to Ontario parents, education staff, and communities for your support, ideas, and commitment to the safety of our schools and the success of students.

Have a positive summer,

The Honourable Stephen Lecce,
Minister of Education

May 19, 2020

Dear Parents—

Today, I announced our government's decision that schools will remain closed until the end of June.

This decision was based on protecting the health and safety of your child, your family, and your community. When I last wrote to you on April 28, I promised that your child would not return to school if we are not able to definitively answer "yes" to the following question: does this promote the health, safety, and well-being of our children and students? Given the current developments in the COVID-19 outbreak and the congregate nature of schools, we cannot answer yes to that question just yet.

For the last few months, you and your children have taken extraordinary steps and shown great flexibility to continue your children's learning journey. Our government has also been working to make sure you and your children have access to the tools, resources, and predictability that we have all sought during these times.

As we continue to work around-the-clock to plan for the summer and the 2020-21 school year, I believe it is more important than ever to listen to you and hear your ideas.

We have heard clearly from parents that they expect dynamic live education for their children. The connection between a student, their peers, and their teacher is more important than ever. Two weeks ago, I wrote to school boards and other education sector partners to express my expectation that teachers utilize live teaching – sometimes called "synchronous learning" – for entire classes, smaller group settings, or one-on-one interactions.

While this is by no means a normal time in your child's education, it is critically important to allow your child to have access to a school community, support network, and learning experience that is as close to normal as possible. I will continue to advocate for this, as we must strive to do more to serve our children in these extraordinary and tough times.

We have also heard from many parents who are concerned about how to access technology in order for students to fully benefit from this live learning. One of the first things we did after suspending in-person classes was to support school boards in distributing existing technology to students who needed it. Over 200,000 devices have been distributed to students across the province.

On April 17, we also announced a partnership with Rogers and Apple that enables school boards to provide portable tablets with free Rogers LTE wireless data, pre-loaded with critical education tools and resources. To date, tens of thousands of these devices have been distributed and delivered to students in the province. It is partnerships like this that represent the best of the spirit of Ontario.

Through the Ontario Together initiative, we have been able to procure competitive packages for broadband internet that families can access immediately. We have provided these options to our school boards, and I encourage you to contact your local board to determine if this might be the right fit for you.

We have heard from parents that there is a need to provide bridge programming and other gap-closing initiatives during the fast-approaching summer period. We know that the learning loss that takes place every year over the summer can be a challenge to students when school resumes in September. This year, the risk of summer learning loss is more pronounced.

That is why we are providing new opportunities for students to continue learning over the summer. We also have announced Ontario's Summer Learning Plan, which is a robust plan for summer learning opportunities, including new programs and initiatives. I encourage you to discuss these options with your child, to determine if there are opportunities to continue their learning over the summer.

Some of these initiatives include:

  • new upgrading courses, which will allow Grade 9-12 students to upgrade a full credit course they passed during the school year in 55 hours, rather than the normal 110 hours
  • specific learning supports for students with special education needs and mental health needs, including access to Education Assistants, a new two-week program in skills development, learning, and routine establishment, and a summer extension of after-school programming for students with autism
  • working with our cross-government team, we will be providing virtual opportunities for students to volunteer during the summer, which can be counted toward the community service graduation requirement

These programs and resources were designed with your child in mind, and we have more than doubled the funding available during the summer period for this continued programming. As we roll out Ontario's Summer Learning Plan, new virtual components will be available and strict protocols will be unveiled for in-class summer learning should emergency measures be lifted. We are also creating an organized and safe process to allow families to retrieve items in schools, led by local school boards.

Looking ahead to the fall, when schools reopen, we know that school may not look or feel the same. While we have seen other provinces suggest what their classrooms may look like in September, we know that each part of our country is impacted and responding differently to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Our government is in regular contact with Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, and the education system remains a top priority for the COVID-19 Command Table. I have also spoken with the leadership of the Hospital for Sick Children, who have provided important counsel in how we continue to support students' health and safety at school.

While we are working aggressively to make sure Ontario's schools and classrooms represent the safest learning environments possible, we will provide our plan for resumption of class in September in short order which will include strict safety protocols and public health measures.

As our province moves further along the recovery path, we should be proud of our collective efforts that are now showing signs of hope and optimism. Despite this, we appreciate that students and children may struggle to make sense of this pandemic. We are all doing our best to stay strong and positive during this period, and you may be having difficult and emotional discussions with your children during this time.

You and your children are not alone. At the onset of the school closure period, I encouraged school boards to immediately ensure that their mental health workers and professional staff are available to engage in safe and secure conversations with students who feel the need to talk. Our government has also provided emergency funding of up to $12 million to immediately expand online and virtual mental health supports, many of which are directly tailored for youth.

There are many organizations that provide critical support for children who face mental health concerns or distress. A great example is Kids Help Phone, which 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.

School Mental Health Ontario also has a number of great resources for students, parents and families on their website at www.smho-smso.ca. In addition, child and youth mental health agencies across the province continue to provide services.

Our government has been consistently clear. The health and well-being of your child guides every decision we make. We will get through this together, and in doing so, will always work in the best interest of your child, your family, and your community.

I know that together, we will all continue to rise to the challenge.


The Honourable Stephen Lecce,
Minister of Education

April 28, 2020

Dear Parents—

I sincerely hope that you, your children, and your families are staying safe and healthy during this unprecedented time.

Over these past weeks, our government has been inspired by you and your children's eagerness and flexibility in transitioning toward remote learning. We know that this has not been easy, especially with the profound impact COVID-19 has had on your lives and livelihood. The ability to keep our students engaged in their learning journey has been remarkable.

As the Ontario Minister of Education, I am committed to keeping you informed about new developments regarding the impacts of COVID-19, especially when it comes to child care, early learning programs and the status of the current school year. Our government will continue to support you and your children during this difficult period.

Our government's foremost priority is the safety and well-being of every child and every student, and those who nurture and support them. In considering any options for welcoming students back to an in-class model of learning, our decisions will be based on safety, consistency and the guidance of public health officials. We have been clear and unwavering in our commitment to ensure every measure is taken to protect students' health and safety before re-entering a classroom.

With that principle in mind, our government has ordered that all public schools in the province will remain closed to students until at least May 31, 2020.

The expert advice of Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health and the COVID-19 Command Table informed our decision. While the modelling that public health experts recently presented shows we are making progress, we are not at a stage in our fight against COVID-19 where students can safely and confidently return to their classrooms.

I know this news is frustrating for many of you. The compassion and commitment of Ontario's parents have been constant. Since we first announced the suspension of in-person learning on March 12, we have heard from parents across the province on how they are doing their best to encourage continued learning with their children. Parents and families have been an incredible source of comfort as children react uniquely to this global outbreak.

Since the beginning of school closures, our plan for the continuity of learning has evolved significantly and successfully. Most recently, we reintroduced teacher-led learning in the province and students are now being assigned work and resources for continuing their education.

As part of this plan, we have outlined expectations for student work-time in a given week based on learning materials and work assigned by your child's teacher. I want to emphasize that no student will have their graduation jeopardized by the current outbreak.

Our government has set out the following minimum suggested standard for instruction:

  • Kindergarten to Grade 3: Five hours of work per student per week, with a focus on literacy and math
  • Grades 4 to 6: Five hours of work per week, with a focus on literacy, math, science, and social studies
  • Grades 7 to 8: 10 hours of work per week, with a focus on math, literacy, science and social studies
  • Grades 9 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

While it is understandable that there are going to be differences in educational experience during this period, my expectation is that all students will be supported and engaged by their teachers and other education workers. We want to thank educators who have embraced these unusual circumstances to ensure their students continue having every opportunity to excel and achieve their potential. If you have concerns related to the sufficiency of the assigned work or the need for enhanced contact, you are encouraged to reach out to your principal or school board. We want to do everything we can during this outbreak to ensure our students receive a quality learning experience.

To maximize the instructional time for your children, we are converting remaining Professional Activity (PA) and examination days into instructional time. This would ensure that your children remain engaged and learning for the greatest number of days possible during this school year. Perhaps now more than ever, every bit of instructional time matters even if it means just one or two days.

While we try to facilitate instructional time during the school closure period, one of the challenges many families experience is that, even in our digitally-connected age, some students do not have access to the Internet or the technology to access Learn at Home.

I'm pleased to inform you that the Government of Ontario is working with Rogers Communications and Apple to help meet the educational needs of students and families during the COVID-19 outbreak. To date, over 21,000 iPad devices, pre-equipped with free Rogers LTE wireless data have been purchased and distributed to families in need by school boards, with the over $75 million provided by the provincial government through the Grants for Student Needs. In addition, Apple is providing on-going support in French and English to teachers, parents and students, with a collection of resources to support learning and working from home. These 21,000 delivered devices are in addition to the over 200,000 computers and tablets that school boards have provided to students in need during this period.

Rogers is also working with Ontario school boards to provide high-speed, low-cost Internet to subsidized tenants and members of housing partners across Ontario through its Connected for Success program, as well as the Government of Canada Connecting Families initiative.

Partnerships like this – between school boards and tech firms like Rogers Communications and Apple – truly showcase the spirit of Ontario.

While we remain committed to meeting students' needs in the current school year, our government has already started planning for the 2020-2021 school year. While this school year was certainly unlike anything we have seen before, we need to prepare ourselves for the fact that school may not look or feel the same come September.

With the safety and well-being of your children as our guiding principle, let me assure you that schools, child care centres, and school buses will be required to undergo thorough deep cleaning before being ready to welcome students and early learners back into their physical spaces. Despite the extremely minimal contact risk posed after this length of closure, we want to allow every student to feel safe and confident as they return to school.

In terms of instruction, we will be unveiling our proposed plan for an expanded summer learning program that will enable students to continue their learning through the summer, if desired. While over 100,000 students typically participate in summer learning, we know that many more students may wish to continue their teacher-led learning after this school year formally ends. This proposed plan for expanded summer learning would focus on credit recovery, a new option to upgrade courses, and a focus on gap-closing programs and supports for vulnerable students.

Our government understands that the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in unsettling times for children. We must continue to pay close attention to the emotional and mental health needs of all students, even if there are no immediate signs of distress.

To that end, our government has directed school boards to ensure mental health workers and professional staff engage with students immediately, as needed, in a secure and safe conversation. We want you to know there are many organizations that provide critical 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.

Child care centres and EarlyON Child and Family Programs continue to be closed until at least May 6, 2020. I can assure you the health and safety of your children will be paramount as we make decisions about re-opening and we support Ontario's outbreak response and recovery plan.

I want to express my appreciation to the teachers and education workers who have been adapting to these new circumstances and doing their best to deliver learning and supports for our students. While we cannot guarantee what the "new normal" will look like in our child care and education systems, I promise you; no decision will be made that does not answer "yes" to the following question: does this promote the health, safety, and well-being of our children and students?

There is simply no question – and no answer – more important.

Stay safe,

The Honourable Stephen Lecce,
Minister of Education

March 31, 2020

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 livelihoods.

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. These conversations will continue to support boards in these initiatives, and we will update you as further information becomes available.

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 3: Five hours of work per student per week, with a focus on literacy and math
  • Grades 4 to 6: Five hours of work per week, with a focus on literacy, math, science, and social studies
  • Grades 7 to 8: 10 hours of work per week, with a focus on math, literacy, science and social studies
  • Grades 9 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 Learn at Home 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, will 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 activate immediately 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 apparent.

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 many 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.

Stephen Lecce

March 24, 2020

Dear Ontario parents,

I am writing to you in unprecedented times.

The foremost priority of the government is to keep all Ontarians safe, including our students and educators. Working with our partners and all levels of government, we will do whatever it takes to deliver on this imperative.

Since we first learned of COVID-19, Ontario has been diligently monitoring the developing situation to protect the health and well-being of all Ontarians. We have also taken decisive action to ensure the province is positioned to be ready for any scenario.

That is why on March 12, 2020, based on the advice of Dr. David Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, I issued a Ministerial Order to close all publicly-funded schools in the province until April 6, 2020. Our government took decisive action – one of the first jurisdictions in the industrialized world to have closed schools – with the aim of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

We are also the first province in Canada to declare a state of emergency. This declaration under Ontario's Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act enhances the province's ability to support our heroic frontline workers as they continue to confront this challenge fully.

While this period is marked by uncertainty, I hope that this letter can, in some part, provide answers to some of the questions I know many parents have.

Although this virus has been characterized and spoken about largely in terms of physical impacts, I believe we need to acknowledge and respond to the sense of fear and concern that your children may be feeling, especially for our younger learners. We have heard from many of them and their parents directly that these reactions come from a place of uncertainty and heightened media exposure that leads to more questions than answers.

During this time, I encourage you to continue to have open conversations with your children about COVID-19 and acknowledge that their reactions to this period – however emotional – are understandable and normal. There are many resources available to you and your children, notably Kids Help Phone, which is Canada's only 24/7 national support service.

They offer professional counselling, information and referrals and volunteer-led, text-based support to young people in both English and French. Please visit their website: www.kidshelpphone.ca, call: 1-800-668-6868, or text CONNECT to 686868.

While the health and safety of your children is my priority, I also know many of you are wondering how we will ensure students continue their journey of learning while out of the classroom.

As a first step to ensure the continued learning of your children, our government has launched an online portal dedicated to curating and providing access to a wide variety of educational resources, for all students from Kindergarten through to Grade 12.

This online portal, which is available at Ontario.ca/learnathome, enables students at every grade level to continue learning while away from school. These resources are developed by Ontario educators, and resources for all grades are informed by leading instructional guidance. For those students who are in secondary school, we are providing access to online courses directly based on Ontario curricula.

Although publicly funded schools are ordered closed until April 6, the fluidity of developments around COVID-19 means we are preparing in the event the closure period is further extended.

Specifically, we are working to ensure that students will be able to continue their coursework and credit accumulation, even when we aren't able to be in a classroom setting. Ontario is a leading jurisdiction in the availability and richness of online courses, so we will be continuing to leverage these tools and other resources to promote students' learning and development. We are working with school boards to ensure students that currently do not have access to computers gain the technology needed to participate.

We know for those with children in a graduating year, there may be uncertainty about whether these students will be able to graduate. We want to make this clear: no graduating student will have their ability to graduate impacted by the two-week closure and the COVID-19 developments. For example, I have cancelled EQAO assessments for this school year. I have also approved a change in graduation requirements so the completion of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) is not a barrier for students on track to graduate. We are also working with the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development to ensure students can apply to post-secondary education (including Apprenticeship, College and University), regardless of the situation this semester.

In this time, it is more important than ever that we take every precaution to ensure that, when students return to class, they return to a safe and healthy learning environment.

The Ministry of Education is providing all school boards with access to funding for the deep cleaning of school facilities, childcare centres, and school buses. Following the closure period, we will minimize any risks to students, learners and our educators.

And for those of you who are returning from travel outside of Canada, it is critical that you follow the strong recommendations of Dr. Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health and self-isolate for 14 days when you and your family return. This means staying at home and avoiding contact with other people to help prevent the spread of disease to members of your family who may not have travelled with you or to your community.

If you think you or a family member have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, in addition to self-isolation, please take the self- assessment test on ontario.ca/coronavirus to help determine how to seek further care. This site will also provide you with all the information you need to keep you and your family healthy and safe.

The Government of Ontario is committed to ensuring all Ontarians remain safe and secure during the challenging time. As the Minister of Education, I assure you I will make decisions based on scientific facts, the best advice of public health professionals, and always with the health and safety of your child at the top of mind.

While our work continues, we will continue to keep you informed along the way. Stay safe.

The Honourable Stephen Lecce
Minister of Education

Minister's letters to parents in many languages (PDFs)

العربية (Arabic)

قراءة خطاب الوزير إلى أولياء الأمور بلغات كثيرة.
20213 سبتمبر
2021 26 أبريل
2020 26 أغسطس
30 يوليو 2020
30 يوليو 2020
2020 يونية 19
28 آوریل 2020
31 مارس 2020
24 مارس 2020

中文 (简体) (Simplified Chinese)


中文 (繁體) (Traditional Chinese)


فارسی    (Farsi)

نامه‌های وزیر را به والدین، به زبان‌های مختلف بخوانید
2021 سپتامبر31
2021 آوریل 26
2020 اوت 26
2020 جولای 30
2020 ژوئن 19
28 آوریل 2020
31 مارس 2020
24 مارس 2020

Deutsch (German)

Den Elternbrief des Ministers können Sie hier in verschiedenen Sprachen lesen.
3. September 2021
26. April 2021
26. August 2020
30. Juli 2020
19. Juni 2020
28. April 2020
31. März 2020
24. März 2020

हिंदी (Hindi)

अभिभावकों को मंत्री के पत्र कई भाषाओं में पढ़ें.
3 सितंबर, 2021
26 अप्रैल, 2021
26 अगस्त, 2020
30 जुलाई, 2020
19 जून, 2020
28 अप्रैल, 2020
31 मार्च, 2020
24 मार्च, 2020

Italiano (Italian)

Leggete le lettere del Ministro ai genitori in lingue diverse.
3 settembre 2021
26 aprile 2021
26 agosto 2020
30 luglio 2020
19 giugno 2020
28 aprile 2020
31 marzo 2020
24 marzo 2020

한국어 (Korean)

다중 언어로 된, 학부모에게 보내는 장관의 편지를 읽어보십시오.
2021년 9월 3일
2021년 4월 26일
2020년 8월 26일
2020년 7월 30일
2020년 6월 19일
2020년 4월 28일
2020년 3월 31일
2020년 3월 24일

Polski (Polish)

Prosimy o zapoznanie się z listem ministra do rodziców w wielu językach.
3 września 2021 r.
26 kwietnia 2021 r.
26 sierpnia 2020 r.
30 lipca 2020 r.
19 czerwca 2020 r.
28 kwietnia 2020 r.
31 marca 2020 r.
24 marca 2020 r.

Português (Portuguese)

Leia a carta do Minstro aos pais em diversos idiomas.
3 de setembro de 2021
26 de Abril de 2021
26 de agosto de 2020
30 de Julho de 2020
19 de Junho de 2020
28 de Abril de 2020
31 de Março de 2020
24 de Março de 2020

ਪੰਜਾਬੀ (Punjabi)

ਮਾਪਿਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਮੰਤਰੀ ਦੀ ਚਿੱਠੀ ਕਈ ਭਾਸ਼ਾਵਾਂ ਵਿੱਚ ਪੜ੍ਹੋ.
3 ਸਤੰਬਰ, 2021
26 ਅਗਸਤ, 2021
26 ਅਗਸਤ, 2020
30 ਜੁਲਾਈ, 2020
19 ਜੂਨ, 2020
28 ਅਪ੍ਰੈਲ, 2020
31 ਮਾਰਚ, 2020
24 ਮਾਰਚ, 2020

Español (Spanish)

Lea las cartas del Ministro a los padres en muchos idiomas.
3 de septiembre de 2021
26 de abril de 2021
26 de agosto de 2020
30 de julio de 2020
19 de junio de 2020
28 de abril de 2020
31 de marzo de 2020
24 de marzo de 2020


Basahin sa maraming wika ang mga sulat ng Minister sa mga magulang.
Setyembre 3, 2021
Abril 26, 2021
Agosto 26, 2020
Hulyo 30, 2020
Hunyo 19, 2020
Abril 28, 2020
Marso 31, 2020
Marso 24, 2020

தமிழ் (Tamil)

பெற்றோர்களுக்கு அமைச்சர் எழுதிய கடிதங்களை பல மொழிகளில் படியுங்கள்
செப்டம்பர் 03, 2021
ஏப்ரல் 26, 2021
ஓகஸ்ட் 26, 2020 
ஜூலை 30, 2020
ஜூன் 19, 2020
ஏப்ரல் 28, 2020
மார்ச் 31, 2020
மார்ச் 24, 2020

اُردُو (Urdu)

والدین کے نام وزیر کا خط متعدد زبانوں میں پڑھیں
 3 2021 ستمبر
 26 2021 اپریل
 30 2020 گست
 30 2020 جولائی،
 19 2020 جون 
28 2020 اپریل
31 2020 مارچ
24 2020 مارچ