Masks have been a mandatory rule in most places across the province for nearly two years, and now, the measure to help prevent COVID-19 has ended.
On March 21, Ontario removed the mask mandate in places like restaurants, stores and schools.
Schools went to back to in-person learning in January, after online classes took over a couple of weeks at the start of the year due to the Omicron wave, there are some that are questioning the no-mask mandate in schools just two months after.
“It is a scary thought that many won’t be wearing masks in a school,” said Danforth area resident Eric Harris.
Harris, a father of two children, said his kids plan on wearing masks for the remainder of the school year and he hopes many do as well.
He said the decision should have been made after the school year is over, or during the summer, as schools are a populated environment and the pandemic is still not over.
Others look to the guidance of the public-health experts when it comes to mask mandates.
“I think Public Health are the experts, as they have been leading us through this pandemic,” said Halton District School Board student trustee, Vandy Widyalankara.
She said school boards trust whatever steps Public Health takes regarding these matters, and they will continue to follow Public Health guidance.
Widyalankara said people should respect others’ decisions to wear masks or not. She said everyone has a different comfort level, as some students are a little bit more cautious and others feel they are safe without a mask.
Indigenous TDSB student trustee Isaiah Shafqat shared the same views as Widyalankara.
“As a public school board we are required to follow the direction given to us by the ministry of education,” says Shafqat.
They also shared Harris’ view that parents should still encourage their child to wear a mask, as the pandemic is still ongoing, and schools tend to be a highly populated space.
Shafqat said schools still continue to make personal protective equipment available to all staff and students. The school boards are also continuing cleaning in high-traffic areas and encourage everyone to still follow good hand hygiene.
Most COVID-19 mandates will be removed by the end of April, the Ontario government announced March 9.
As of March 23, Ontario had more than 1,100,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 12,000 deaths.