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Ottawa-Carleton District School Board of trustees divided on optional masking in schools

On Monday, Aug. 8, the Ministry of Education announced that mask usage would be optional for the upcoming school year, but not everyone on the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board agrees with this decision.
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Amidst the recent announcement that masks would not be required for the upcoming school year, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) of trustees is divided on the issue.

On Monday, Aug. 8, the Ministry of Education announced that mask usage would be optional for the upcoming school year.

Lyra Evans, OCDSB trustee for zone 9, told The Sam Laprade Show on Tuesday, Aug. 9, that several trustees were not in favour of having a meeting to discuss reintroducing mask requirements in schools.

Evans said she's frustrated that some of her colleagues wouldn't even consider having the debate, which means no meeting about the topic will happen until the end of September.

If public health restrictions are reintroduced, Evans said schools would have missed their "lead time" of informing families that their kids may need to get back into the habit of wearing a mask for extended periods.

"I think that lead time would have benefited families, and we're not even having a meeting to discuss it," she said.

One of the reasons Evans is in favour of mandatory masking is to protect immunocompromised students or children with an immunocompromised family member.

"Education is a right [and] because we have a responsibility to serve all students, we should be setting a higher benchmark than recreational soccer," she said.

Speaking on behalf of herself and not the board, Donna Blackburn, an OCDSB trustee told The Sam Laprade Show on Aug. 10 said at the end of the day, masks mandates are not decided by school board trustees. 

"Some people will choose to wear masks, and some people won't," she said. "If Dr. Vera Etches, or the Ontario medical officer of health says masks will be mandates in schools, that's what we will do."

Listen to the full interview with Donna Blackburn below: 

Listen to the full interview with Lyra Evans below:

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