Hamilton public schools shorten mask policy to April 1st

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) still plans to continue enforcing mask-wearing at the city’s public schools after the provincial mandate ends on March 21st; however, they’ve shortened their timeline.

The board had previously voted on a motion to keep masks on in local public schools until April 15th, giving more time for schools to ease into the removal of public health measures as well as ward off any potential spikes in COVID-19 cases following the March Break holiday.

However, that date has now been pushed up to April 1st instead after HWDSB trustees voted at a special meeting on Tuesday; a full two weeks sooner than what was previously voted on. The board also says it strongly encourages continued mask-wearing for students and staff after April 1st.

“Throughout the pandemic, Trustees have remained committed to purposeful, measured responses that support the health and safety of our school communities,” reads a statement from HWDSB Chair Dawn Danko.

“We ask our staff, students, families, and community to be respectful, considerate, and kind as we support each other through this next phase of the pandemic.”

Some HWDSB trustees are opposed to the date change, including Ward 3 Trustee Maria Felix Miller.

“I voted in opposition to this latest motion as I felt that our direction was strong and clear last week and that it maximized safety for our families and staff,” wrote Miller on Twitter.

“I am hopeful that masking until April 1st can help manage any March Break surges, however, I think 2.5 years of a pandemic have shown us that hopes and fatigue don’t wash away cases.”

Read the full statement on the HWDSB website.

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