Students cross the street at Tomken Road Middle School during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, April 1, 2021.
Dr. Lawrence Loh, chief medical officer for Peel Region, has ordered schools closed until April 18, exercising his discretionary powers under Section 22 of the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act.
Schools in Peel Region have been ordered to close and switch to remote learning only despite the provincial government saying it's their "firm belief" they should remain open.
In Toronto, the public health unit says it has recommended the closure of 20 schools as COVID-19 cases are investigated. Further decisions on extending the section order will be based on the disease picture in Peel.
"This closure will allow students and staff at least two weeks out of schools to break any chains of transmission and protect them from exposure", Peel Public Health said in the statement.
All elementary staff and students, secondary staff and students and special education staff and students will be impacted and all April Break spring camps for school-age children will be cancelled.
There have been nearly 2,500 reported COVID-19 cases linked to the province's schools in the past two weeks, with 63 schools closed.
The government of Premier Doug Ford announced a provincewide "emergency brake" last week that did not include closing schools.
Waterloo Region's top doctor said she's "not planning" to shut down in-person learning at local schools.
Children under six years of age, who are not attending school, will be able to continue to attend licenced childcare programs.
This closure is a necessary step to protect staff and students in Peel Region.
"Dr. Loh thinks the right thing to do is to really reduce the risk of transmission right now, so schools is the first and I am letting you know that he is also looking at different and other restrictive measures as well", Crombie said.
Spring break is still expected to go ahead across Ontario on April 12.
The closure will affect all Dufferin Peel District Catholic School Board, Peel District School Board, Conseil Scolaire Viamonde, Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir and all private schools.
"The health and safety of students and staff in schools, along with a strong commitment to student learning, continue to be our main focus", Russell-Rawlins said.