“Can we keep our staff and board safe? And can we have productive meetings?”
Discussions at the Ottawa-Carlton District Board of Education about whether to re-request students and staff to wear face masks are expected to resume in the next few days, but whether people will be able to participate in person remains to be seen. Not decided yet.
Board chair Lyra Evans said some councilors were concerned for their personal safety after Tuesday night’s meeting was interrupted by people opposing mask mandates. The room was cleared of observers and the meeting effectively continued.
Evans, in particular, presented that the masks could help CHEO chief staffer Lindy Samson stop the unprecedented number of children infected with a respiratory virus from flooding hospitals. said he was disappointed with the scene.
“I am a strong believer in the concept of open democracy,” Evans said. “I wanted that meeting to go well. I wanted my voice to be heard because it is not in the school board’s best interest to silence the voices of the parent community. is.”
Evans said she and board staff are considering whether to allow observers as the debate continues later this week or early next week.
“Can we keep our staff and board safe, and can we have productive meetings?”
During Tuesday’s meeting, people in the crowd yelled at the trustees, chanted and sang O Canada. Declared to have “received” notification of
At one point the trustees gathered in a back corner of the room away from the crowd chanting “Freedom”.
The board is discussing a motion to require temporary mask wearing in schools, proposed by Trustee Dr. Nili Kaplan Maas.
Masking will help slow the transmission of respiratory viruses, primarily RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and influenza, but also COVID-19.
According to OPH, there are currently 17 schools in Ottawa with facility-wide respiratory virus outbreaks. Another he said two schools are experiencing outbreaks in multiple cohorts of students. At two schools he has one cohort with outbreaks. A school has an outbreak in an unspecified number of classes.
Schools should report an unusually high number of absences and OPH will provide advice on: Infection control. Schools are not usually closed due to outbreaks, but parents are usually sent a letter on how to prevent infection.
Kaplan-Myrth says he received hateful emails and threats after suggesting Musk’s move. At Tuesday’s meeting, she referred to a Facebook group formed to oppose mask mandates on the board.
A post on its Facebook page includes a derogatory description of Kaplan-Myrth and a pledge by parents not to allow their children to be masked. , posted that people should go to CHEO to film, to show that there is no crisis in the hospital. One woman replied that she agreed it would be a good idea to film her ICU in the hospital.
A spokesperson for CHEO said the hospital was aware of the possibility that protesters might try to film patients there, but declined to comment.
Kaplan-Myrth says she’s not deterred by what she calls a small group of very vocal anti-mask advocates.
Several parents who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting said they thought masks were harmful to their children and had no right to be mandated by the school board.
One father of four said he noticed mental health effects in his four children, including anxiety and depression, after wearing masks.
Last March, the state lifted the requirement to wear masks in most indoor public places.
Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Ontario and Dr. Vera Etcht, Chief Medical Officer of Ottawa, said public It “strongly recommends” wearing a mask indoors. caring for a sick child.
However, neither Moore nor Etches impose the order.
Etches said Wednesday he was sorry to see people disrupting the school board.
“We know it helps to have dialogue, answer people’s questions, and consider all sides of the situation. But it has to be done respectfully.”
Etching told reporters that he still calls for mask mandates to be reintroduced in Ottawa, but that he doesn’t feel the situation in local hospitals.
She also said Ottawa Public Health’s decision was not influenced by the aggressiveness of those who opposed masks and enforcement.
“I have the best advice for what we need to do now: wear more masks indoors, get vaccinated and stay home when sick,” she said. Told.
The Ottawa-Carlton Board of Directors is virtually alone among its school boards in debating face mask mandates.
The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board discussed a temporary mask mandate at a meeting earlier this week, but instead voted to “ask” students and staff to wear masks. Stronger words than the board’s current message that schools are mask-friendly.
The Ottawa-Carlton board has already “strongly encouraged” students and staff to wear masks.
That message appears to have had little effect, as several parents at the conference noted. less than 10% of students are wearing masks and approximately 15-20% of staff are wearing masks.
How much of it reflects strong opposition to wearing masks, or how much of it reflects a “follow the crowd” mentality is an open question.
Most students and staff at Ottawa’s largest school board don’t wear masks, staff report
Health leaders urge parents to vaccinate children as pediatric hospital crisis continues
The Ottawa-Carlton board voted last April to temporarily mandate masks amid the COVID-19 wave, saying the education ministry should allow students to choose whether or not to wear masks. Stated.
The issues are similar now, as the Trustees discuss a motion to require masks.
Some councilors at Tuesday’s meeting questioned what the mask mandate would include and how it would be enforced.
Director Camille Williams-Taylor said the board has a legal obligation to ensure the safety of its employees, referring to what happened to observers at the meeting.
Evans said he doesn’t think any councilor would agree that “in a democracy it’s okay to give in to the loudest person.”
Evans said a decision on masking will require the trustee to consider a variety of factors. She hopes the motion will be made before it is amended many times by the board when debate resumes.
In the files of Andrew Duffy