Public health says that late last week and through the weekend, the region saw significant increases in case counts and the spread of variants in the community.
"The government, school boards and PHUs must take immediate action to ensure students and staff are safe, up to and including moving learning online, if that's what's deemed necessary", Hammond added.
The chief medical officer for Peel Region, which also includes the town of Caledon, ordered its schools closed until April 18 on Monday, with camps due to run during next week's delayed break also cancelled.
Peel Region remains one of the virus hotspots in Ontario, with 533 new cases of COVID-19 reported on Monday - second only to Toronto.
Toronto schools have been ordered to close as of Wednesday, forcing students to make the switch from in-person classes to virtual learning.
The decision has been made unilaterally by Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel's medical officer of health, who will be exercising his discretionary powers to enact such closures under Sec.
As for the Peel school closure, students will stay home for at least two weeks. "I know this will be challenging for parents to navigate and we appreciate all the sacrifices parents continue to make as we continue to fight COVID-19 in our community".
An extension of this order may be considered based on COVID-19 epidemiological data for Toronto.
Schools should be the last to close and the first to open in a pandemic situation, Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, told reporters last week. "Due to our strong infection prevention measures, 99 per cent of students and staff have no active cases of COVID-19, however we must remain vigilant and keep our guard up in order to keep schools safe and open".
Further decisions to extend Section 22 will be made, as required, and TPH says the return date for in-person learning will be re-evaluated and is subject to change.
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. Schools in Peel already have strong measures in place to prevent transmission in their settings.
Bird acknowledged that there are some outbreaks at Toronto schools, including 22 that were closed on Monday, and that closing all schools is the best move right now.