Do not anticipate obligatory masks to return in London-area colleges: officers


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November 22, 20226 days ago2 minutes read School children wear masks in a classroom on January 7, 2022. REUTERS

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The London area’s two largest school boards say they have no plans to reintroduce mask requirements in their classrooms any time soon, despite the triple threat of influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19.

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“At this stage we have not had any discussions about making masks mandatory,” the Thames Valley District School Board said in a statement on Monday, adding that it is following advice from local health units.

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The trio of viruses prompted Ontario Health Commissioner Kieran Moore last week to ask residents to dress up as hospital emergency rooms attend to an unprecedented number of patients, particularly children. But Moore didn’t make masking mandatory.

The London District Catholic Schools Board said it continues to “strongly encourage staff and students to wear masks indoors, even where it is not required,” board spokesman Mark Adkinson said.

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Experts are predicting one of the worst cold and flu seasons in years, with children particularly vulnerable and putting pressure on the city’s already stretched hospitals.

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Western University medical professor Sameer Elsayed said, “Strong public health measures during the COVID-19 pandemic have helped reduce incidences of influenza and influenza-like illness.”

“However, the easing of these measures is expected to encourage a tidal wave of respiratory viral infections in the coming weeks,” he said.

Middlesex-London Health Unit health officer Alex Summers said the season was likely to be “challenging”.

“Many in our community, especially children, have not been exposed to respiratory viruses like the flu in recent years,” he said. “This means now is the best time to ensure you are as protected as possible from the viruses that are circulating at this time of year by getting your seasonal flu shot as well as the COVID-19 booster dose you are entitled to.” to have .”

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The best ways to protect yourself and others is to get vaccinated, wear a mask in indoor public places and stay home if you’re sick, he said.

The London Health Sciences Center said in a statement on Wednesday: “We expect significant continued pressure in the coming weeks.”

“(We) support the government’s recommendation for individuals to mask in public places, as we know that masking is one of the most effective means of preventing disease transmission,” it said.

At 115 percent, the occupancy rate of the children’s hospital is higher than ever before. Non-urgent patients in the ER at Children’s Hospital have an average wait time of six to eight hours, primarily due to the large number of patients who come in with symptoms of RSV and influenza.

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Meanwhile, a child in eastern Ontario who tested positive for the flu has died, according to the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Borough Health Unit.

At Western University, one of the few educational institutions in the London area to require students to wear a mask, the mandate will continue until the end of the fall semester, December 23, university administration announced last month.

It is not known whether Western is considering extending the mandate.

Fanshawe College, where masking has not been enforced since the fall semester began, said it encourages the college community to please wear a mask indoors on campus to help protect the pediatric population.

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