Masks will not be mandatory in Ontario schools this fall. However, staff and students who wish to continue wearing them if they are concerned about COVID-19 are allowed, the Education Ministry says.
In a memo sent to directors of education late Friday afternoon, Deputy Minister Nancy Naylor said when classes resume in September, COVID-19 protocols will be the same as last spring, and that personal protective equipment as well as rapid tests will be provided.
“Continuing with this direction and based on the advice of the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, masks will not be required for students, staff and visitors in schools, school board offices, or on student transportation,” Naylor wrote.
“We strongly encourage school boards and schools to actively promote respectful, welcoming and inclusive environments for individuals who choose to wear, or not to wear a mask within their school communities. The government will continue to provide free high-quality masks for students and staff and eye protection for staff, if they choose to use them.”
In the memo, obtained by the Star, Naylor also reiterated the province’s back-to-school plan, which includes tutoring, funding for mental health as well as a new focus on skilled trades.
“For the past two school years, Ontario’s students and their families, educators and school staff have demonstrated resiliency and flexibility in responding to changes to public health and workplace safety measures during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she wrote.
“The Ministry of Education remains committed to providing students with a normal return to school and to supporting an enriching school experience that enables academic success and lets students take advantage of the activities and programs that enhance classroom learning and build social and life skills.”