In Quebec, students are no longer required to wear masks while sitting at their desks as summer weather sets in and COVID-19 indicators remain on the downswing.
The decision was announced late Monday by both public health authorities and Education Minister Jean-François Roberge due to the current heat wave that is seeing temperatures exceed 30 C with humidex values reaching 40 in parts of southern Quebec.
“I know it was difficult today in our classes due to the extreme heat. In addition to allowing fans and air conditioners, public health has authorized students to remove their masks in class as of tomorrow until the end of the year,” Roberge said on Twitter.
Elementary and high school students in orange pandemic-alert zones, which includes Montreal and its surrounding regions, no longer have to wear masks. Mask wearing is not mandatory inside classrooms in yellow and green zones.
The Association montréalaise des directions d’établissement (AMDES) had made the request earlier on Monday.
AMDES president Kathleen Legault said several schools do not have the proper ventilation system to use air fans due to the risk of spreading COVID-19.
“With the current heat wave it is absolutely and urgently necessary to relax the wearing of masks rule for students in classes in Montreal schools,” Legault said, adding that this measure needed to be put into effect as of Tuesday.
According to Environment Canada, the heat wave in southern Quebec is set to last until Wednesday.
The measure isn’t sitting well with everyone, however. Deborah Fairchild, a teacher at Westmount High School, says she has concerns about changing the rules.
“What they are doing right now is putting everybody at risk,” she said. “To say the kids don’t need to wear the mask in the class room is ridiculous. The kids aren’t vaccinated.”
— with files from Global News’ Brayden Jagger Haines, Kalina Laframboise and the Canadian Press