Trustees at Ottawa’s largest school board have voted to implement a mask mandate.
The motion passed Tuesday, with eight trustees at the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) voting in favour. One trustee opposed and three abstained from the vote.
“Tonight, the Board of Trustees passed a motion requiring mask use in all OCDSB buildings,” the board said on Twitter.
“Staff are developing an implementation plan and will provide additional clarification shortly.”
On March 21, Ontario lifted its mask mandate for most indoor public spaces, along with schools.
In response to the OCDSB decision, a provincial government official told Global News that the board knows it cannot enforce a mask mandate on students.
The official said that students can go to school with or without a mask in alignment with provincial guidelines.
The official noted that the local public health unit can elevate policies if they deem it necessary, but said that medical experts should make these type of decisions.
The province has also taken various steps in schools in response to COVID, such as distributing HEPA filters and rapid tests, the official added.
At his first press conference since early March on Monday, Ontario chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore strongly recommended that individuals wear masks in indoor public spaces as COVID-19 figures trend upwards amid the sixth wave of the virus.
However, Moore said the province would not be returning to a widespread mandate “at this time.”
Moore was also asked why, if there is a strong recommendation to mask, a mandate isn’t reinstated for settings like schools.
He said that the province is still providing free masks to students and education workers which “can and should be used.”
“But we’ve already responded that an individual risk is exceptionally low for hospitalization in that setting, for severe outcomes in that setting,” he said.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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