Windsor-Essex Public School Board trustees to discuss return of mask mandate for students

Administrators of the Greater Essex County District School Board will discuss reinstating a mask mandate for its students, following a decision by Ottawa school board administrators to do the same, GECDSB officials say .

While it’s unclear when it will come into effect, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board voted Tuesday night to reinstate mandatory mask-wearing in its schools.

According to Board Chair Alicia Higgison, GECDSB directors have expressed concern over the recent pandemic measures.

Among those metrics is updated data from the WE SPARK HEALTH Institute that shows the level of COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex wastewater has reached an all-time high since the start of the pandemic.

The previous record was set on January 14. On that date, the research institute recorded the viral level in the wastewater at 178,055 copies of the SARS-CoV-2 gene per liter.

But that record was broken this week when that number jumped to 193,200 on April 11.

Despite that metric, however, Higgison said she’s not sure her fellow directors will move forward with a board-specific mask mandate when they meet next Tuesday.

“I go on weekly calls with the minister (of education). What the minister has said is that they are unenforceable,” Higgison said. “So what I would hate to do is if we institute or promise something that can’t be enforced in schools.”

“It just downloads more of that work to the staff in our schools who are trying to enforce something that we don’t have the capability or ability to do. So we’re stuck. We’re really in a situation difficult.”

But according to University of Windsor sociology graduate Jane McArthur, who also has two school-age daughters, there’s no reason school boards can’t enforce a mask mandate.

Mother-of-two Jane McArthur says she would like to see public health measures implemented locally as COVID sewage measures reach record highs for Windsor-Essex. McArthur, top left, is seen here with her two daughters. (Source: Jane McArthur)

“When we talk about not bringing peanuts into schools, or simple things like requiring kids to have extra sneakers, there are a lot of things that schools and school boards, teachers and principals apply all the time,” she said.

“I personally don’t think it’s unenforceable. I think there’s a lack of will to enforce it because I don’t think we have quite the buy-in to the effectiveness of these tools. for virus prevention.

McArthur, who also works for the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, adds that she is also outraged by comments from Windsor-Essex’s acting medical officer of health, Dr Shanker Nesathurai, last week.

On April 7, Nesathurai said the province should adopt measures to ensure consistency in public health messaging across Ontario in support of re-enforcing requirements such as mandatory mask-wearing at the local level.

“As someone involved in occupational and environmental health legislation and policy, we know that sometimes our interventions need to be created at different levels of governance,” McArthur said.

“I don’t see a justifiable argument that it’s a better public health approach than simply following a provincial guideline.”

CTV News requested an interview with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit on Wednesday to ask about the possibility of reissuing local emergency orders amid record levels of sewage – but a spokesperson from WECHU told him to report this matter to their press briefing. Thursday.

In a statement, the Windsor-Essex District Catholic School said it had “no intention” of implementing a mask mandate “until such direction is taken by the provincial government. “.

On Monday, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore issued a strong recommendation for mask-wearing indoors, but stopped short of a full mandate.

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