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Home Covid-19 Lifting of mask mandates in Ontario schools being met with mixed reaction

Lifting of mask mandates in Ontario schools being met with mixed reaction

Ontario will no longer mandate face mask use in schools as of March 21, also bringing an end to COVID-19 cohorting and physical distancing requirements.

“As we continue to ease public health measures, we are also working with the Ministry of Education to align measures in schools and child care with those in the community as much as possible,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore.

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Ontario lifts mask mandate in most settings March 21, all directives to drop by April 27

The province is also no longer requiring on-site verification of screening for all children, students and staff, suggesting instead that they self-screen before attending school or child care every day and stay at home if they are experiencing new or worsening symptoms of illness.

“It seems really premature,” said Karen Brown, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO.)

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“We’re removing another key layer of protection – which is masking to slow down the spread. We’re concerned that our members are going to be exposed,” said Brown.

She added, ETFO will encourage members who “are feeling vulnerable” to continue to wear their masks in school.

COVID-19: Ontario’s top doctor says lifting of mask mandate is not politically motivated

COVID-19: Ontario’s top doctor says lifting of mask mandate is not politically motivated

Toronto pediatrician Dr. Sloane Freeman is also advising her patients to continue to wear masks.

“I feel that it’s a bit early to lift the mask mandate … I worry particularly about children that are unvaccinated or under-vaccinated and children that are more vulnerable from a medical perspective,” she said.

“We know masks work to control transmission and Omicron is still out there and I do hope that children will still use masks at this time to help protect those that are more vulnerable among them,” she added.

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Mask-wearing a ‘personal choice’ as COVID-19 measures ease: PHAC

ER physician Dr. Lisa Salamon questions the timing of the decision by the Ford government.

“It’s the wrong decision. I don’t think it’s based on science at all. I think it’s based on politics with an election looming. I am frustrated, upset, angry. I think it exposes all of society to an unnecessary risk,” she said, adding “we should for sure have waited until after March break and after Easter and Passover, and the holidays in April and then see where things are going.”

Click to play video: 'Ontario lays out spring pandemic plans, with discontinued masking requirements'

Ontario lays out spring pandemic plans, with discontinued masking requirements

Ontario lays out spring pandemic plans, with discontinued masking requirements

On the other hand, Tudor Vicy, whose family had COVID-19 in December, told Global News he is ready to put the masks away.

“I think at this point we have the immunity … our experience wasn’t that bad and I think this variant of the virus is not that dangerous and we need to start living. It’s time for us to move on,” he said.

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Read more:

Toronto City Council votes to lift mask bylaw alongside province

His son Elliott added, “the mask always make my face sweaty and every time when I run outside and have to wear my mask it gets all sticky on my face.”

The Children’s Health Coalition, a collective of children’s health organizations in Ontario including the Hospital for Sick Children, released a statement noting it would have preferred to have waited until two weeks after March break.

“We all want the pandemic to be a memory for our kids, not part of their day-to-day. But we’re not quite there yet, and we ask everyone to continue to be thoughtful of those around them and their needs and choices when it comes to masking,” noted the statement.

“As a pediatrician, I encourage families who are more comfortable wearing masks to continue to do so, past the lifting of the mask mandates. We must all remember that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over and show respect and support for those who continue to practice masking and other safety measures moving forward,” noted CEO of Sick Kids, Dr. Ronald Cohn, in a statement sent to Global News.

In a letter to parents and students on Wednesday, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) said it is “currently reviewing” its policies, procedures and guidelines related to COVID-19 measures to “determine how today’s announced changes will be implemented and will be discussing with Trustees during a Special Board Meeting” Thursday evening.

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“We will provide an update on Friday once we have further details on implementation in TDSB schools,” the letter reads.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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