Schooling union involved about lifting of masks mandates in London, Ontario – London space faculties

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The local president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario shares his concerns as mask requirements in schools are lifted, a move he calls “premature at best”.

In addition to schools, mask requirements have also been lifted at most public venues across Ontario, including malls, restaurants and grocery stores. The Ontario government has retained mandates in other areas such as public transportation, hospitals and long-term care for now, but those mandates and all other COVID-19 public health guidelines are scheduled to fall on April 27.

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Craig Smith is President of ETFO’s Thames Valley Teachers Local, which represents around 3,600 members on the Thames Valley District School Board, a body serving around 80,000 pupils in London, Middlesex County, Elgin County and Oxford County.

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He objects to the Ontario government lumping schools with other facilities like malls and grocery stores to decide when to lift mask mandates.

“I think if (schools) are geared towards anything, it’s more like what we find in retirement homes and long-term care facilities. Schools are a collection of collections,” Smith said.

“The masks themselves, if deemed necessary for those who are at risk in retirement homes or nursing homes, I think the equation is similar to that in schools.”

Although masks are not mandatory, the TVDSB will continue to encourage masking of staff and students in the future. The Borough of London Catholic Schools Board will also do the same.

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As for older students in the area, Western University says its masking mandate will remain in effect until the end of their term.

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All of the above steps were supported by the Middlesex-London Health Unit.

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Smith expects both staff and students at local schools will continue to mask “for the foreseeable future,” but he is concerned about “what happens over time,” and alludes to the potential for increased spread from COVID-19 on.

Ahead of Monday’s lifting of the mandates, Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table said in its latest projections, released Thursday, that masks are an “effective public health measure to reduce COVID-19 transmission.”

Taking the table’s advice into account, Smith would like the mandates to last a little longer.

“This year has been another challenge for students and teachers, and I think another hurdle thrown at them to make this even more difficult is just not welcome at this point,” Smith said.

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Speaking to Global News on Friday, ahead of the mask lifting, local mum Shannon Dafoe said she and her family will be masking “a little bit longer depending on the environment we’re in.”

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“I work in long term care so I’ve been doing PPE (personal protective equipment) all the time and as much as I’m tired of it I still find it important to protect myself and more importantly (my children). are not old enough to get vaccinated, so we’ll just do what feels best for our families,” Dafoe said.

“I think it’s up to individual families and I trust most people are cautious because we’ve done this long enough, we know what we should and shouldn’t do.”

Sarah Timothy, a local teacher and parent, says she and a number of her staff will continue to mask for some time after the March break.

Her five-year-old is happy not to have to wear a mask, but Timothy says she will likely send them with masks anyway.

“We’re just hoping for a good summer and hopefully this is the end of that,” added Timothy.

“We made the best of it as best we could.”


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COVID-19: Should mask requirements continue in Canada?


COVID-19: Should mask requirements continue in Canada?

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