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Waterloo public school board makes masks mandatory for all students

All public school students in Waterloo Region will be required to wear masks when school starts this fall.
All public school students in Waterloo Region will be required to wear masks when school starts this fall. Getty Images

All students attending public schools in Waterloo Region this fall will be required to wear masks.

The Waterloo Region District School Board unanimously approved a motion by trustee Carol Millar Tuesday night that made masks mandatory for all students, including those in kindergarten to Grade 3.

Read more: Ontario teachers say they’re preparing for online and in-class lessons with little guidance

The motion includes exceptions for those who are unable to wear masks.

“Staff will work with and approach compliance among younger students with compassion and a focus on education. There will be no disciplinary action for students having difficulty complying,” the board said in a statement.

The WRDSB says parents will not have to pay for masks for the children in kindergarten to Grade 3.

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“I can’t say how pleased I am that this was unanimous,” chairperson Jayne Herring said in a statement. “Offering an added layer of protection for our students and staff through this motion will help to offer peace of mind for all those learning and working in our schools.”

The province had previously mandated that students in Grade 4 and above were required to wear the masks amid the coronavirus pandemic but this motion replaces the Ontario government’s move.

A spokesperson for Education Minister Stephen Lecce told Global News that the province supports local school boards making changes to support their needs.

Read more: Mississauga mother whose son died of flu urges caution as students head back to school

“Our plan is a living document – it’s meant to be augmented and adapted, and we recognize that school boards have developed plans that best suit their local needs,” Caitlin Clark told Global News via email.

“We appreciate that boards in areas with higher public health risk may wish to expand safety measures, including masking.”