TDSB asks staff, students to wear masks after Ottawa-Carleton votes to mandate them
Canada’s largest school board is asking staff and students to wear masks amid a resurgence of COVID-19 in Ontario, while another board in the province looks to reinstate a mask mandate.
The Toronto District School Board says that although it takes its direction from the provincial government, which lifted mask mandates for most indoor spaces including schools on March 21, it’s requesting that all staff and students wear a well-fitting mask when indoors in schools.
It says the move will limit the spread of COVID-19 and help minimize disruption from COVID-19 related absences in schools, while noting it remains a “personal decision.”
The recommendation comes after the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board passed a motion requiring masks be worn inside its schools on Tuesday evening.
In a tweet, that board says staff are “developing an implementation plan” and will “provide additional clarification shortly.”
The government has said school boards have no legal authority to mandate masks in the absence of a directive from a public health unit.
In a statement, Ottawa Public Health says it will not be introducing any local measures to require masking in schools at this time.
But it says it is “supportive of measures that can be taken to increase mask use” during the sixth wave of COVID-19, including policies in specific businesses, workplaces and community settings such as schools and child-care centres.
It also says it “strongly” recommends that people wear masks in indoor settings, particularly in situations where physical distancing may be difficult or impossible.
The Education Ministry did not say Wednesday whether it would take action against the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.
Earlier this week, Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said the province would not be reinstating “a broad mask mandate” at this time, but recommended masks be worn in indoor public spaces.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2022.