Masks to remain optional in Ontario classrooms next year, Ministry of Education says

WATCH ABOVE: Ontario’s education minister is drawing a line in the sand as the government enters into negotiations with education workers, setting an expectation around extracurriculars. Global News’ QP Bureau Chief Colin D’Mello has the latest.

Facemasks will remain optional in Ontario schools when students return to the classroom this fall, the Ministry of Education says.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said he was following “the expert advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.”

The province lifted Ontario’s mask mandate in schools on March 21, allowing students to decide whether they wanted to wear a mask indoors. The move came as part of a broader easing of measures, particularly mask requirements, during the spring.

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Ontario education minister wants extracurriculars offered in September

Lecce has placed emphasis on a return to “safe classrooms without disruption” in September, announcing at the end of July he wanted extracurricular activities to run as normal when school resumes.

“That starts with being in class, on time, with the full school experience coupled with historic mental health and tutoring supports,” Lecce’s office said.

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said Friday Ontario’s seventh COVID-19 wave had peaked.

“I think we’ve already started on the downswing,” he said.

Looking ahead to the fall, a new wave of COVID-19 may not be as bad as Moore would have predicted a few months ago, he said, though colder weather pushing more activities indoors does increase risk.

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Ontario’s 7th COVID-19 wave has peaked, province’s top doctor says

Schools in Ontario will continue to offer access to rapid COVID-19 tests.

“On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, we have taken action by deploying over 100K standalone HEPA filter units to classrooms and learning spaces, enhanced cleaning, and continued access to rapid antigen tests,” Lecce’s spokesperson added.

— with files from The Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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