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Coronavirus: Toronto District School Board looks to make masks mandatory for all students

Click to play video 'TDSB change of plan: Making masks mandatory for all students' TDSB change of plan: Making masks mandatory for all students
WATCH ABOVE: After its first back-to-school plan was rejected by the government, the Toronto District School Board is coming up with a new proposal -- and this one has a significant change to it which doesn’t align with the government’s recommendations. Miranda Anthistle explains. – Aug 19, 2020

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) wants all students — not just Grade 4 and up — to wear masks once schools are reopened in September amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The TDSB Finance Budget and Enrollment Committee will review the proposal Thursday and then the board will look to approve within the coming days.

Read more: Coronavirus: City of Toronto identifies facilities for potential TDSB, TCDSB back-to-school use

The proposal says the board should “include the requirement for masks or face coverings indoors for all students, staff, and visitors, with medical exemptions and accommodations, and age and needs-based education, training, and protocols.”

The proposal recommends the mask ruling stay in place until they are no longer “required or recommended” to prevent the spread of the virus.

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The motion also says the board should look into alternative options, such as face shields, for those who cannot wear a mask.

Read more: Ontario government rejects TDSB pitch to cut class size, wants to maintain full day

The proposal is a shift from what the Ford government recommended in that they said all staff, as well as students from Grade 4 and up should wear masks.

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However, the TDSB proposal says, “Research shows that young children do contract COVID-19 and carry high viral loads in their respiratory system, therefore indicating both the ability of young children to contract and spread COIVD-19.”

Furthermore, the proposal also said it was making the recommendation on the basis of Toronto Public Health advice and the City of Toronto bylaw which “requires the use of masks in all publicly accessed indoor spaces, including apartment buildings, for everyone over the age of two years.”

Other school boards across the province appear to be following suit, including the Waterloo public school board.

Read more: Waterloo public school board makes masks mandatory for all students

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

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“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 said via email.

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

With files from Global News’ Kevin Nielsen

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Free tutoring platform started by Toronto teens for teens – Aug 19, 2020