These Ontario parents want province to make masks mandatory in classrooms again


Heather Hanwell desires to see a masks mandate reinstated in Ontario faculties and she or he is aware of that is not a well-liked opinion.

But the mom from York Region says she would not consider air filtration and air flow in classrooms have gone far sufficient to preserve college students and employees protected.

“This is completely not a well-liked stance and the factor is, it isn’t a few reputation contest,” Hanwell instructed Rebecca Zandbergen, host of CBC Radio’s London Morning.

“Politicians proper now are those which are making these choices and they’re those which are involved about reputation, not about public well being.”

Hanwell and different parents have fashioned the group Ontario School Safety, which has about 20 devoted volunteers however greater than 400 individuals who have supported the trigger via monetary donations. She says they’re contemplating authorized motion in opposition to the province to see masks return to faculties. They’d additionally like to see different measures return, like higher entry to fast check kits and reporting on circumstances in faculties.

WATCH | Respiratory sickness surge revives debate over masking indoors:

Respiratory sickness surge revives debate over masking indoors

Hospitals are seeing a flood of children who’re severely ailing with respiratory viruses, which is reviving the talk over whether or not masks mandates must be introduced again.

This comes as Critical Care Services Ontario reported 122 kids have been in in pediatric ICUs throughout the province. Ontario has a complete of 112 intensive care beds for kids.

Dr. Lennox Huang, an intensive care doctor and the chief medical officer at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, instructed CBC Toronto hospitals have reached “a degree of disaster for pediatric care throughout the province.”

“All of our predictions … would point out that issues are going to worsen earlier than they’re higher,” Huang mentioned.

Hanwell says the group understands there are lots of people who find themselves offended and parents want their kids to have a “regular” faculty yr. She says that is what her group desires, too.

“We get it, we perceive why perhaps you’ve got stopped masking, we perceive the pressures to want to get again to what we name regular,” she mentioned. “We want Ontario open for enterprise, open for studying.”

A group of high school-aged students wearing masks hold up signs that say "keep mask mandates" and "schools are not a game to play with COVID cases, Ford" and "Report COVID cases in schools"
Students at Albert Campbell Collegiate Institute, in Scarborough, participate in a protest after the Ontario authorities lifted the masks mandate in faculties in March 2022. Some Ontario parents have fashioned the group Ontario School Safety they usually’re pushing the province to deliver again masking and different measures in faculties to curb the unfold of COVID-19 and different respiratory viruses. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Hanwell mentioned with layered protections reminiscent of masking, air flow and hand washing, “that we are able to preserve issues open, that we are able to proceed with our actions and preserve our children in their sports activities and their golf equipment and preserve them in faculty the place they want to be. Everyone agrees — children are finest in faculty.”

Masks a layer of safety,  mother says

Kate Laing is a mom in Waterloo area and has heard folks argue that she will be able to simply ship her personal kids to faculty with masks. She did that and she or he says her son got here house with COVID-19 inside days of beginning faculty in September.

“Vaccines are a part of it, however they don’t seem to be a silver bullet. Masking is a type of layers that we all know actually decreases the unfold of airborne viruses,” Laing instructed Craig Norris, host of CBC Kitchener-Waterloo’s The Morning Edition

“We noticed it with the lower in flu final yr — it was just about non-existent as a result of we have been masking. And now that we’re not masking flu, RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and COVID are actually all on the rise and it is inflicting this pediatric healthcare disaster that we’re in proper now,” she mentioned.

Premier, chief medical officer promote vaccine

Earlier this week at a information convention, Premier Doug Ford was requested if his authorities would deliver again masks mandates, notably in faculties. Ford mentioned he’d observe the recommendation of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore.

“I’d put on a masks when you may in the event you’re inside threat and get your flu shot, get a vax shot, too,” Ford mentioned.

CBC News requested Moore whether or not he’s contemplating reintroducing masks in faculties to the curb the unfold of COVID-19, RSV and different respiratory viruses. In an emailed assertion, he as a substitute inspired folks to get their COVID-19 vaccines and boosters and the annual flu shot as they “stay the very best instrument to preserve folks wholesome and out of hospitals.”

“The bivalent vaccine, together with continued entry to testing, antivirals and up to date public well being steerage, give Ontarians the instruments they want to make the very best choices for themselves on how to keep protected and wholesome,” the emailed assertion mentioned.

“The ministry, together with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, continues to work with public well being items throughout respiratory sickness season and monitor impacts on the well being system. At the identical time, we’re investing in health-care staffing and constructing capability in well being care to guarantee Ontario sufferers obtain the care they want.”

Legal motion being thought-about

Hanwell and Laing say the group of parents they’re talking for do not assume these statements go far sufficient.

The Ontario School Safety group is contemplating what authorized choices exist to pressure the province to implement measures like masking to curb the unfold of respiratory viruses this faculty yr.

“Most of us have written letters, signed petitions, had conferences with folks from lecturers, directors at faculties, faculty boards are members of provincial parliament, calling and writing the premier,” Hanwell mentioned.

“So we’re authorized motion as a result of this is perhaps the factor that really can pressure them to perform their responsibility to create protected sufficient faculties.”

Laing says the group additionally desires to hear from extra parents about their experiences.

“We’re prepared to go the gap. We simply want to make certain that we’re educating parents … and lecturers about why it is a large deal,” she mentioned.


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