Ottawa public school board lifting mandatory mask requirement

Masks will no longer be mandatory in Ottawa’s public elementary and secondary schools starting Monday, with the board now ‘strongly’ encouraging students, teachers and visitors to wear masks in buildings.

Six weeks after the Ottawa Carleton District School Board voted to make masks mandatory in all schools, the board is lifting the mandatory mask requirement on Monday.

“Effective Monday, May 30, 2022, the OCDSB will shift its policy on the wearing of masks from ‘mandatory’ to ‘strongly encouraged,'” said a letter to parents and guardians Friday morning from Director of Education Camille Williams-Taylor.

“The mandatory mask mandate has been in place by Board motion, since April.  The motion indicated that mask use would continue until such time as Ottawa Public Health (OPH) may explicitly advise otherwise.”

Williams-Taylor says Ottawa Public Health provided an update on the COVID-19 situation to school boards on May 20. The update stated:

  • Wastewater viral levels are decreasing, bringing them to less than half of what they were earlier this spring and lower than the January 2022 peak
  • Testing percent positivity is moderate and levels are decreasing
  • New hospital admissions are low and decreasing
  • New confirmed outbreaks are low and decreasing

“Both the local and provincial data show a steady decrease, indicating that we have reached the point to adjust our practice,” Williams-Taylor said. “We continue to strongly encourage the wearing of masks and will respect decision-making made by students, families, and staff based on personal risk factors.”

The Ottawa Carleton District School Board voted to implement a mandatory mask mandate for schools and businesses on April 12, after the Ontario government lifted the mandatory mask requirements on March 21.

The board made it clear that students would not be suspended or expelled for refusing to wear a mask in schools.

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