Ford did not provide a timeline for when kids would head back to class, saying instead that officials will keep a constant eye on data and trends to determine when children can return to school.
Provincial Medical Officer of Health Dr David Williams said a “prolonged” school closure is “prudent.”
The premier said that despite the closures, child care for non-school age children will remain open.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce has insisted for days that the government would open schools for in-person learning after the “April Break” this week, except in regions where the local medical officers of health chose to keep facilities closed.
“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,” he said.
WATCH | Ford explains school closure decision: Ontario shuts down in-person classes again; return date unknown
Ontario is shutting down in-person instruction in schools as the province deals with a third wave of COVID-19.
When asked why he changed his position on schools in less than 24 hours, Lecce said the decision was made after discussions with Williams and other medical officials “over the past hours.”
The ministry reported another 217 school-related cases of COVID-19 today, including 186 students, 30 staff and one person who was not identified.
The local medical officers of health in Peel Region, Toronto and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph decided to close schools in their respective public health units.
Ontario reported another 4,401 cases of COVID-19 today, the second-most ever on a single day in the province, while public health units logged one of the highest test positivity rates of the pandemic.
More than 100,000 doses were administered on four days last week, and health officials have repeatedly said there is capacity for up to 150,000 per day in the province.
Ford set the target of giving 40 per cent of the province’s eligible population a first dose by the time the current stay-at-home order ends near the end of this month.
Toronto’s local medical officer of health said this morning that models forecast the city could see up to 2,500 additional cases per day by the end of the month if the current rate of new infections continues on pace.
Hospitals have started ramping down elective surgeries and non-urgent procedures today to ensure they have the capacity to treat more COVID-19 patients.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said last week that could increase intensive-care unit capacity in Ontario by up to 1,000 patient beds.