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No Mask Mandate from September for Ontario schools

Masks will not be mandatory for Ontario schools this fall; however, they will be provided to staff and students who chose to continue wearing them to protect against COVID-19.

Masks will not be mandatory for Ontario schools this fall; however, they will be provided to staff and students who chose to continue wearing them to protect against COVID-19.

Deputy Minister Nancy Naylor said when classes resume in September, the protocols put in place will be the same as last spring, which will include personal protective equipment and rapid tests being provided.

“Continuing with this direction and based on the advice of the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, masks will not be required for students, staff, and visitors in schools, school board offices, or on student transportation,” said Naylor.

“We strongly encourage school boards and schools to actively promote respectful, welcoming, and inclusive environments for individuals who choose to wear, or not wear a mask within their school communities. The government will continue to provide free high-quality masks for students and staff and eye protection for staff. If they choose to use them,” said Naylor.

Naylor also highlighted Ontario’s back-to-school plan, which entails tutoring, new focus on skilled trades, and funding for mental health.

“For the past two school years, Ontario students, and their families, educators, and school staff have demonstrated resilience and flexibility, in responding to changes to public health and workplace safety measures during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Naylor.

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“The Ministry of Education remains committed to providing students with a normal return to school and to supporting an enriching school experience that enables academic success and lets students take advantage of the activities and programs that enhance classroom learning and build social and life skills,” said Naylor.

N95s may be mandatory for staff who work with students who have special needs.

Hand sanitizer will be provided to boards and enhanced cleaning protocols will be continued in schools and buses.

Daily COVID self-screening is highly recommended for students, staff, and visitors. Anyone who feels ill should stay home.

According to Naylor, boards should still track absence rates and report any spikes to local public health officials.

Negotiations are still underway with all education unions to ensure that school will start on time in September and will include sports and extracurriculars.

 

 

 

This article was written by Kamakshi Dhillon as part of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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