Parents shopping for back-to-school supplies on Monday were divided over whether masks would be part of their children’s first day of school outfits.
Carri Morrison and her 10-year-old daughter, Addyson, told CBC News they are relieved masks won’t be required in schools this fall.
In an email to CBC News on Monday, the Ontario Ministry of Education said most health and safety requirements for the upcoming school year will remain unchanged from year-end. 2021-2022 school year, which includes the voluntary use of masks.
The ministry said medical experts were consulted when preparing this year’s health and safety plan.
“I think I’m okay with the mandate of the mask coming off because I think if people have a choice to do that, I think that’s really important. I feel like at this stadium, I think it’s great to have the choice,” Morrison said.
“I feel like the way they’re using the masks, it’s questionable whether we’re really getting that much protection,” she added.
Addyson, who is heading into year five, said: “It’s good that it’s not compulsory because it’s hard to work, hard to breathe. So I like that it’s not compulsory. But if you want, you can wear one.”
Schools are a ‘pandemic accelerator’, says teacher
However, Dr. Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa, said that while there might come a time when masking is no longer needed, this fall isn’t it.
“We are in the midst of a health care crisis in Ontario and across the country. We have intensive care units that are overcrowded. We have healthcare workers who are overworked and dropping like flies. We have a shortage of nurses. closing regularly,” he said.
Deonandan said schools could once again become a means of spreading the virus.
“Children, if they get sick, will pass it on to other people because as has been shown, school is indeed a pandemic accelerator. There is no longer any debate on that.
“At the start of the pandemic, it was assumed that children didn’t magically get sick. That’s not true.”
It’s not lost on mother-of-two Sarah Jane Etabrooks.
“I think the masks will be back before Thanksgiving. I’d rather they stayed.”
She will ask her children to wear masks at school, including her 11-year-old son, Judah.
“Masks are uncomfortable, but I think they are necessary. I don’t want to make my friends sick and I don’t want to make myself sick,” he said.
School boards must follow provincial guidelines
Three of Ottawa’s four school boards said in emailed statements that they would follow provincial masking guidelines.
Ottawa’s largest school board, the Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), said it will encourage masking and that rapid antigen tests and masks will still be provided by the government to those who have them. need.
However, OCDSB Administrator Lyra Evans tweeted Monday she is calling for a meeting for the board to review the masking decision.
The main hospital that serves my area (Montfort) closed its ER over the weekend due to staffing shortages exasperated by COVID.
People have asked me if the School Board plans to return to masking to reduce local spread.
I’ll call a meeting to move what we’re doing.
The Ottawa Catholic School Board and the Public School Board of Eastern Ontario (CEPEO) also said they plan to abide by the provincial decision. The CEPEO added in its press release that students who wish to wear masks can do so freely.
The Center East Catholic School Board did not respond to CBC in time.