COVID-19: Majority of Montreal students still wearing masks in classrooms

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Many Montreal students still opting to wear masks in class'
COVID-19: Many Montreal students still opting to wear masks in class
Watch: Quebec public health authorities announced this week that the mask mandate will be extended until the end of April. Students in elementary and high schools, however, still don't have to wear a mask while seated in class, if they don't want to. But as Felicia Parrillo reports, the majority of them are opting to keep it on. – Apr 6, 2022

It’s been almost a month since the Quebec government eased COVID-19 restrictions and announced masks were no longer mandatory for high school and elementary students while seated in class, but to look around Académie Marie-Claire on the West Island, one might think that wasn’t the case.

“COVID-19 is still wandering around everywhere,” said Grade 8 student, Jody Zhu. “We have to have the responsibility to protect everyone’s safety.”

While the school told parents and students they could make their own decision on whether they wanted to wear a mask in class, they strongly encouraged mask use should continue.

READ MORE: Quebec’s elementary, high school students no longer required to wear masks in class

“I’m following the rules, but at the same time, I’ve been very cautious,” said Marie-Claire Martin, the academy’s general director. “I’m playing it safe. If we can wear it, why not?”

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The situation appears to be similar in public schools.

Both the EMSB and Lester B. Pearson boards say though face coverings are no longer mandated “about 90 per cent of students are still wearing their masks in class.”

“It’s understandable that kids are hesitant about removing their masks,” said Heidi Yetman, president of Quebec’s Provincial Teacher’s Association. “They’ve been wearing them for a year and half, protecting their classmates, their families, and now they’re saying ‘oh you can take them off.'”

READ MORE: Should Quebec drop mask mandates in schools?

Yetman says masks are an added tool to help fight the sixth wave of the pandemic.

Even though restrictions have eased, COVID-19 is still present in schools.

According to data from the Quebec Education Ministry, student absences linked to the virus rose from 14,000 to more than 27,000 in just over a week.

Absences for teachers and staff also nearly doubled in the same period of time.

Yetman says it could result in more classroom shutdowns or even once again, remote learning.

Earlier this week, Loyola High School moved to online learning. In an email, the school wrote that “a high number of teachers tested positive for COVID-19” and they’ve noticed a dramatic increase in student infections as well.

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Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Quebec extends mask mandate to late April'
COVID-19: Quebec extends mask mandate to late April

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