Upper Grand chair speaks out on mask use and strike by support staff

A cleaner helps clean a classroom at Eric Hamber Secondary school in Vancouver Monday, March 23, 2020. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The newly elected chair of the Upper Grand District School Board has weighed in on two issues that are facing local schools.

A total of 55,000 education workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) are expected to walk off the job as of Monday in response to the impasse in contract talks with the province.

In a statement, board chair Ralf Mesenbrink says in the event of a strike by CUPE employees, the board will work to support student learning, while paying close attention to the safety and operation of the schools.

He goes on to say that it will do all it can to keep schools open for in-person learning as long as possible, but admits it will be difficult without the support staff.

Read more: Upper Grand school board preparing for possible strike action

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Meanwhile, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health has recommended the use of masks in indoor settings to curb a surge in respiratory illnesses such as influenza and COVID-19.

Dr. Kieran Moore says the recommendation is in response to the recent increase in patients being admitted to hospitals.

Mesenbrink says the school board will take direction from the Ministry of Education, and both provincial and local public health officials.

He says it remains in regular contact with Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health and will continue to take their direction and recommendation.

Mesenbrink also adds that all Upper Grand schools have multiple layers of protection in place.


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