Masks will not be mandatory in Ontario schools this September, the province’s education ministry says.
In an email to CBC Toronto on Monday, the ministry said most health and safety requirements for the upcoming school year will remain unchanged from the end of the 2021-22 school year, which includes the voluntary use of masks.
“The government will continue to provide free high-quality masks for students and N95s for staff, if they choose to use them, all which remains unchanged from the 2021-22 school year,” reads the email.
“School boards will continue to have access to rapid antigen tests to be used in accordance with provincial testing guidance.”
The ministry adds that leading medical experts, including the Children’s Health Coalition and medical officers of health, were consulted in this year’s health and safety plan.
The news comes days after the province’s chief medical officer of health said the seventh wave of COVID-19 in Ontario has peaked.
However, when the mask mandate was lifted in schools last year, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario called the move “premature” and said it would put students at risk of having in-person learning disrupted once again.
Late last month, Education Minister Stephen Lecce committed to keeping Ontario’s two million students in class for in-person learning this school year
“We have taken action by deploying over 100,000 standalone HEPA filter units to classrooms and learning spaces, enhanced cleaning, and continued access to rapid antigen tests,” Lecce said in a statement.
“Our government remains focused on providing students with a positive, safe, and normal school experience.”