The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) has become the first public school board in the province to announce that they will be maintaining mask-wearing for a while longer.
This move comes in response to the Ontario government’s announcement this week that mask mandates province-wide will be lifted come March 21st: a move that has been met with controversy and pushback from some Ontarians who consider the lift too hasty.
Clearly, the HWDSB felt similarly, as the board just voted at a special meeting Thursday evening to keep its mask policy in place for students and staff until April 15th.
Experts are recommending just a couple weeks of masks after March break to protect kids' health. Let's not throw in the towel at the end of the fight. We can do this. #onpoli #onted https://t.co/Lx4dDV2QR3
— Andrea Horwath (@AndreaHorwath) March 11, 2022
The Hamilton school board’s extension responds to the fact that Ontario’s mandate removal coincides with the end of March Break: a time where there will certainly be a high number of gatherings as well as families who travel over the holiday, naturally increasing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
The vote to extend masking in schools to April 15th gives the HWDSB an extra few weeks to ride out any potential impacts of the March Break holiday, as well as allow more space for a thoughtful and responsive “exit strategy” as we continue to adapt to COVID-19.
On a city-wide level, Hamilton public health is currently reviewing the province’s move to lift mask mandates and will provide more updates to locals soon.
The Ontario government’s announcement means that, as of March 21st, mask-wearing will no longer be mandated on a provincial level in indoor public settings including grocery stores, retail, movie theatres, restaurants, bars, gyms, concert venues, and more. Ontario individuals may still elect to wear their masks in those settings.
Read more here.