DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard
DURHAM: As the mask mandate lifts in most settings across the province, the Durham District School Board (DDSB) has confirmed they will no longer require their students to wear masks. “Further to Wednesday’s announcement, on changes to province-wide public health and safety measures and yesterday’s Board of Trustees meeting, we are writing to confirm, as of March 21st, students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 will no longer be required to wear a mask while at school. The Durham Region Health Department has also indicated they are following the provincial guidance released on Wednesday and are not recommending additional measures for schools or daycares at this time,” read a letter to parents from Education director Norah Marsh. The letter was sent out on Friday, March 11th. However, the letter also noted “students, visitors, families, and staff are welcome to continue to wear masks while at school and/or on the bus,” if they choose to. At a recent board meeting, Pickering trustee Chris Braney explained, it is important for the board to “align ourselves with the provincial announcement.” Board Chairperson Carolyn Morton stated, the goal is to create a “mask-friendly environment [which] would be created in all classrooms,” so people who choose to wear masks are accepted. The board also recently decided to continue providing “three-ply masks for students who request them,” until the end of June. Whitby Trustee Niki Lundquist said, the decision to continue providing masks “gives some level of comfort” for everyone. “It is one small thing we can do, to provide a level of protection and comfort, when we’re talking about removing some of the [health] measures,” she said.