COVID-19: Parents Look for Spring Break Activities During Ontario Home Stay Order

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Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly said that military medics in Toronto and Peel Region decided to keep schools closed after spring break. In fact, no decision has yet been made on plans to reopen.
TORONTO – Panos Kelamis had to get creative for his son’s sixth birthday this year because, once again, he won’t be able to throw a party due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Celebrating with friends at school is out of the question for the second year in a row. The cancellation of in-person classes canceled last year’s festivities, while this year, the cause is the province’s decision to postpone the traditional March break until Monday.

Spring break became even more complicated for Ontario parents when the province moved to a third stay-at-home order last week, putting an end to camps, vacations and birthday parties, between other activites.

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Kelamis said he tries to be creative as he plans a party for his son.

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“There are a few buddies in the neighborhood, so we are considering having a scavenger hunt,” he said. “So give him a clue, then go to someone’s house, obviously outside and socially distant, and they’ll give him another clue.”

“It will be a chance for him to see his friends and a chance for him to do something fun and creative that will hopefully interest his mind rather than just staring at a screen.”

Kelamis said when he told parents in his Toronto neighborhood about the scavenger hunt, they were all keen to help. Not just because it would be good for Kelamis’ son, but because it would give their children something to do during the break.

“As much as we can fill a day, we’ll gladly take that to avoid going crazy,” Kelamis said.

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The government announced the decision to postpone the March break a month earlier this year in a bid to discourage travel during the pandemic.

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The latest home support order, which took effect Thursday, is expected to be in effect for four weeks as the province grapples with a third wave of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. The province set a new one-day record for new cases on Sunday, registering 4,456 in a 24-hour period.

The stay-at-home order closed non-essential businesses and banned in-person dining at restaurants across the province.

Schools, however, will resume classroom learning at the end of the April vacation. However, in public health units like Toronto and Peel Region, local medical officers of health have yet to decide whether or not to reopen after the break.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said it was important for children and parents to keep schools open.

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“Our students deserve a safe return to their classrooms on April 19 so they can continue to learn, and we are committed to making that happen,” Lecce said in a statement Thursday.

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That still leaves parents in Ontario a full week to entertain their children, likely when they have to work from home themselves.

Mark Silver, father of three, chief technology officer and faculty member at York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto, faced this dilemma last summer as camps in Ontario were closed to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

Silver, her friends and family have pooled their resources to create Backyard Camp, a free online resource for parents looking for kids’ activities to do at home. He said he hopes parents will use his newsletter again this spring break or, if necessary, this summer.

“We’re sort of your backup plan. If you can’t figure out what to do, if you don’t have time to go to the store, we’ll always give you some ideas, ”said Silver, who said Backyard Camp has developed 400 children. activities and plans to add more.

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© 2021 The Canadian Press

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