Toronto schools have been ordered to close as of Wednesday, forcing students to make the switch from in-person classes to virtual learning.
Toronto Public Health said it appreciates that this decision places additional burden on many families but "health and safety of students and staff remains a priority".
"There are definitely schools that do have a number of cases, there have been some outbreaks declared, yet you have other schools that have really not been impacted at all".
Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, is issuing a Section 22 order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, that requires all elementary and secondary school students to transition to online/remote learning effective Wednesday, April 7 at 12:01 a.m.
"I knew it was going to be a matter of when, not if, schools would be closed, not to say that that's easy for people", she said Tuesday from her home in Mississauga, Ont.
"As of April 5, TPH is not recommending the shift to remote learning for schools in Toronto".
In a tweet, the TDSB said all school boards in Toronto have been informed by TPH that all schools in the city, except individual ones closed for COVID-19 investigations, will open on Tuesday after the Easter long weekend for in-person learning.
"I think everyone can agree, it's not a lot of warning".
"In some schools, they were concerned that there might have been some transmission, but their case contact management was starting to get overwhelmed with all the contacts to follow", he said.
The TDSB already announced the closure of 20 schools due to COVID-19 transmission Tuesday.
In regions where schools remain open, some parents still chose to keep their children at home, citing safety concerns.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce previously announced Ontario schools would stay open for the four-week duration of the Ontario-wide 'shut down.' Both Lecce and Ontario Chief Medical of Health Dr. David Williams have maintained schools remain safe and there has been hardly any in-school transmission of COVID-19 occur provincewide. There are over 1,000 schools with at least one reported case and 83 are now closed as a result.
Three teachers' unions have also asked the government to close schools for in-class learning in virus hot spots and offer vaccines to education workers, arguing not enough measures have been taken to keep schools safe.
"That's a huge step for anybody to take", Wolfe said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce's office assured Ontarians that "schools remain safe with strong public health measures in place that have kept almost 99 per cent of schools in Ontario open".
Ontario reported 236 new, school-related COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, including 207 in students.
The closure also affects Dufferin-Peel District Catholic School Board, Conseil Scolaire Viamonde, Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir, all private schools and all special education staff and students.
The District School Board of Niagara said as many as 4,000 staff who work in schools will have the option to be vaccinated next week.