The Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) has announced that masks will no longer be mandatory for staff and students from March 21.
With the start of the March Break period, the date represents the next regular school day on the calendar.
“The time has come,” TVDSB director Mark Fisher said in an interview with CTV London.
After two years of school closures and restrictions related to COVID-19, students and parents will notice that most restrictions end on the 21st.
This includes cohorting and physical distancing in schools and on school buses.
Among other changes, the return of school assemblies, graduation ceremonies and balls, and most, if not all, extracurricular activities.
“So a lot of those things that make schools an exciting place for students will be reinstated. Some right away on March 21, others over the next few weeks.
TVDSB Director Mark Fisher is seen Friday, March 11, 2022 (Sean Irvine CTV News)
The announcement receives mixed news from parents. Unsurprisingly, the masking debate continues.
“I will encourage them to wear them, especially in enclosed spaces,” says parent Sarah Smith.
Eva Neudorf chooses to let her 9-year-old son decide. “It’s up to him to decide. It’s his decision, so if he wants to wear one, he can.
Nicole Bechard also plans to let her older children decide, but also wants to make sure children are still encouraged to take certain safety precautions. “As long as they keep washing their hands, keeping their distance, they should be fine.”
Other parents worry about bullying whether a child chooses to wear a mask or not.
Fisher acknowledges that could be a hassle, but they’re willing to deal with it.
“We may have some schools where students could potentially be stigmatized for wearing a mask. We may have sites where they might be stigmatized for not wearing a mask. What we’re talking about is honoring the choice and being respectful.
But as most restrictions at TVDSB schools are falling, Fisher acknowledges that a step or two back is still possible if cases spike.
“And if we see something going in the wrong direction, we will pivot like we did before with classrooms, to this virtual platform.”
But unless that happens, Sarah Smith is ultimately on board with the direction TVDSB is taking.
“It’s time. We’re vaccinated. And, if you’re not vaccinated, you probably won’t be at this stage, so it’s time to move on.