Alana Murray

Alana Murray, Director of Education, Bluewater District School Board.

In a May 19 letter to parents and guardians of Bluewater District School Board, Director of Education Alana Murray shared Minister of Education Stephen Lecce's announcement that all publicly funded schools in the province are to remain closed for the remainder of the school year.

Licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs will also remain closed with the exception of emergency child care spaces currently being offered to health care and other frontline workers.

"I know that this news may come as a disappointment for many of our students, staff, and families, who were hoping for a return in June so that the school year could be finished in a more traditional fashion," said Murray. "At the very least, I hope that this decision to extend the closure period until the end of the school year will alleviate some of the uncertainty that has been lingering and help us to move forward in planning our next steps."

Students will still be able to complete the school year and receive their final report cards. Secondary students who were on track to graduate prior to the closure of schools will also be able to graduate. More information can be found at

"In the meantime, we will keep moving forward with distance learning, all the while gathering feedback from parents/guardians, students, and staff to improve our efforts in delivering lessons and programs as schools remain closed," said Murray. "Plans are also being developed for optional enhanced summer school and summer learning programs that students may wish to participate in to keep their learning active until school resumes."

Murray said she recognizes that many are wondering about the status of end-of-school-year celebrations of student achievement, including secondary commencement and Grade 8 graduation. The Ministry of Education recently issued a statement encouraging school boards to preserve these opportunities so that students can participate in them once it is safe to do so.

"We have heard from several individuals in our school communities on this topic, and are firmly committed to ensuring that these important milestone events will proceed and be memorable for our students. Details on how these might occur will be shared soon," said Murray, adding that they are working with local public health officials to determine the timing and proper protocols around students retrieving their belongings and will communicate such as they know more.

"While it is hard to predict what our eventual return to school will look like, I assure you that we will be working closely with our public health, ministry, and Ontario school board partners to carefully strategize a reentry plan that is safe and reasonable for our students, staff, and families," said Murray. "The provincial government has indicated that a plan for safely reentering schools at a future date will be unveiled prior to the end of the current school year. We will keep you updated as details emerge regarding how this plan will look in Bluewater District School Board."

In closing, Murray thanked parents and guardians for their support and efforts "to go above and beyond in ensuring the success and well-being of our students during these challenging past few months," adding that she is proud when she reflects on the many ways in which Bluewater school communities have demonstrated such strength and resiliency in the face of adversity.

"It goes without saying that together we will all emerge from this even stronger and more resilient than ever," she said.

In a May 19 media release, Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson said that although keeping schools closed until September was “a very tough decision” it was “the right thing to do," adding that maintaining the safety and protection of children, school staff and families was the priority.

“This decision is based on the advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health, health officials on the COVID-19 command table, and medical experts at the Hospital for Sick Children,” said Thompson.