Ottawa-Carleton District School Board rescinds mask mandate, asks for further direction from province

On Monday, students in kindergarten through Grade 12 will no longer be required to wear masks at school. Photo by OCDSB.
Meara Belanger - - OttawaON | 17-03-2022
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Ontario’s largest school board is planning to lift its mask mandate on Monday, but is asking the province for additional direction to protect the immunocompromised.

On Monday, the Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) declared it would scrap mandatory masks in its schools beginning on March 21, in accordance with provincial guidelines. The move follows weeks of gradually declining COVID-19 numbers after cases peaked with the Omicron variant in January, adding over 12,000 new cases over the course of the month.

As per the province’s instructions, school boards across Ontario are scrapping the mandate, but there is some debate as to whether it’s too soon to abandon COVID-19 protocols.

In a special meeting of the OCDSB on Monday, trustee Justine Bell unsuccessfully moved to keep masks in schools for at least two weeks following the March break, citing that COVID-19 rates spiked last year when students and their families returned from the holiday.

“I think it's pretty clear what we all want,” says Bell. “We all want healthy students that are learning and thriving. And I think we can all agree that keeping schools open is a very important goal. The number one mitigation for aerosol transmission is masks - after vaccinations, it is masks.”


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