Despite calls from the education minister for Ontario schools to lift masking mandates in line with the rest of the population on Monday, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board is hanging tough. The Board issued a statement Friday, saying it is going ahead with its plan to continue to require masks in schools for two weeks after March break.
In a statement the board noted, “At a March 15 Special Board Meeting, the Board of Trustees rescinded previous motions on masking for students and staff, and passed an updated motion in its place. This motion continues the mask mandate until April 1, 2022, to allow for a transition period after the March break and for students seeking to transition to remote learning.”
What this means is that the Board is asking students and staff to wear masks till April 1—as opposed to an original order for masking to extend to April 15. But the Board also says unmasked students will not be sent home but will be asked to complete a mask exemption form.
Earlier Friday Education Minister Stephen Lecce said he does not support any extension of masking by the HWDSB. “Individuals and families can make informed choices based on their own assessment of risk,” he wrote. Previously the board had unsuccessfully asked the Local Public Health Unit to issue a Section 22 order to allow masking mandates to continue. Such an order would have overridden the Provincial order.