Ontario’s education minister is defending the province’s plan to end mask rules along with other COVID-19 measures in schools on March 21 despite concerns from educators and health experts about the timeline.
Stephen Lecce says Ontario is following a handful of other Canadian jurisdictions that have already lifted mask mandates and based on that trend, he says it is one of the more cautious provinces.
Lecce pointed to ventilation improvements made in schools and says the province is following the recommendations of its chief medical officer.
Other pandemic measures including class cohorting and on-site symptom screening will end in Ontario schools on March 21, when people will no longer be required to wear masks in schools or child-care centres.
In a letter sent home to Simcoe County District School Board families on Wednesday, the board indicated schools will continue to be “mask-friendly environments.”
“Masks will remain available to students and staff who choose to continue to wear them while in schools,” the letter read.
While mask mandates are being lifted, the board reminded families that COVID-19 self-assessment screening was still required daily by students and staff.
The Ontario Principals’ Council says it opposes the March 21 end date for masking in schools, arguing that many families may be travelling over March break next week, leading to increased risk of spreading the virus.
A coalition of children’s hospitals has also urged the province to keep masks in schools for at least two weeks after March break.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 10, 2022.
Files from Barrie 360.
Banner image: File photo