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COVID-19 Layers of Protection: Please Wear a Mask

The Upper Grand District School Board is sharing updated information with staff and families about the health benefits of wearing a mask while indoors at UGDSB sites. Please see below for detailed information, including a Questions and Answers section that will help answer a number of questions about masking. 

COVID-19 Context

“As you know, we are in the midst of the sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has already been a long road and Public Health officials expect the sixth wave of COVID-19 to last for another several weeks. We are asking for everyone’s help to get us through this latest wave and help reduce absenteeism, which is affecting all of our schools,” says UGDSB Director of Education Peter Sovran. 

As a school board, we want to remind everyone of the importance of all the key protective strategies that have helped throughout the course of the pandemic: 

Following these measures will help with pressures in schools, including student and staff absences, and an increase in staff shortages. We are very appreciative of the students, families and staff  who have worked hard to ensure the continuity of learning in schools by following the preventative measures listed above. We are working hard to avoid having to collapse classes and/or close schools due to staff shortages. 

We are asking for everyone’s help to keep our classes running as normally as possible by following preventative practices and wearing masks indoors – not because it is mandated, but because it matters.

Questions and Answers

Why is the UGDSB not mandating masks like other boards?

The UGDSB has always taken its health and safety direction from the Ministry of Education and public health officials, which have made clear that as of the province lifting certain restrictions in March, school boards cannot continue requiring mandatory masking. We also believe that any possible school-board specific mandate would not be able to be enforced at the board or school level. Without a provincial mask mandate, many individuals will not comply consistently with wearing masks. Provincial and/or public health direction to the general public is a powerful motivator for children and adults to consistently wear masks both in and out of schools as an added layer of protection.  

What do public health officials recommend?

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has said he “strongly recommends” wearing a mask in indoor public spaces. Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam is also advising Canadians to continue wearing a mask. Local officials at Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health continue to strongly recommend the use of masks indoors.

Why have other school boards been able to require their students and staff to wear masks?

Under the policies of those school boards who have chosen to mandate masks, those who do not wish to wear a mask can self-exempt themselves without providing any documentation or reasoning to support their decision. In other words, those who do not wish to wear a mask can choose not to do so. This is a very similar approach at UGDSB, except we do not require a formal request.

We have asked all students and staff while on board sites to go back to wearing masks inside to help limit the disruption caused by a sixth wave of COVID-19.

Please wear a mask.

Other COVID Reminders and Layers of Protection in the UGDSB

WDGPH Mask Poster 1