TDSB stops short of requiring masks after Ottawa’s largest school board votes to reinstate mandate

The Toronto District School Board stopped short of requiring masks for staff and students on Wednesday after Ottawa’s largest school board voted to reinstate the mandate.

The school board, Canada’s largest, says it it is “asking that all staff and students please wear a well-fitting mask when indoors in schools to limit the spread of COVID-19,” citing a “high number of absences.”

It added that it takes its direction from the province, which removed its mask mandate for most indoor spaces on March 22.

“To be clear, this remains a personal decision,” the board said in a news release.

The news comes as the province confirmed a sixth wave of COVID-19 is underway and as medical officers at all levels of government have said masking is recommended. 

While TDSB maintains masking is a choice, Hamilton and Halton school boards are considering bringing back the mask mandates.

Masks are still required for four days after a five-day self-isolation period following a COVID-19 diagnosis. They are also required if a person has been identified as a close contact of someone with the virus, and for 14 days after returning from travel outside of Canada.

Parents and guardians are still required to complete daily screenings before children can enter a TDSB building.

The school board says it provides masks for staff and students upon request, has HEPA filters installed in schools, and continues to distribute rapid antigen tests.

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