Hamilton’s public schools are not going to reopen next week for the final week of the academic year.
At the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) meeting on Monday evening, education director Manny Figueiredo informed trustees that the Ontario Ministry of Education had denied the request.
Last week, the public board passed a motion to ask for schools to reopen. Figueiredo said it would be in the interest of the “social and emotional well-being of students.”
The board’s motion came after the Progressive Conservative government decided schools would not reopen as Ontario enters Step 1 of its reopening plan. Elementary and secondary schools have been closed for in-person learning longer in Ontario than in any other province during the 2020-21 school year.
Hamilton’s COVID-19 case count has plunged over the last week, with only four new cases reported on Tuesday. The active count is also down to 196. But modelling has been suggested that reopening schools could lead to a 6 to 11 per cent bump in new cases.
The union that represents education workers in HWDSB who tend to students with “pervasive needs” also opposed any reopening. Most of their students have had in-person learning at alternate locations and the union’s contention was that going back to school would be disruptive for vulnerable students.