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Ontario teachers' union, parents express concerns over the end of mandatory masking in schools

The province’s top doctor announced Wednesday that mask mandates in most public settings, including schools, will lift as of March 21.

The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) calls the decision premature.

“I know our educators want to be able to see the smiles of the students they’re interacting with and other educators, but we need to move with caution,” ETFO President Karen Brown told CTV News Toronto Wednesday.

Browns points to low vaccination rates among children age five to 11, classroom crowding and uneven ventilation as reasons for continued concern.

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) questions the timeline for dropping masks.

“We’re worried that this is following right after March Break when people tend to travel and there’s a lot of social interaction, so we think it would have been more prudent to wait at least a few weeks,” OECTA President Barb Dobrowolski said.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) echoes concerns about the possibility of spiking cases and potential exposure to COVID-19 after the holiday.

“I think the government has taken a gamble here with the health and safety of the province,” OSSTF President Karen Littlewood said.

All three teachers’ unions are telling their members to do what feels safe to them, including wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing.

Some parents outside Markham’s Parkview Public School told CTV News Toronto Wednesday morning they will continue to send their kids to school with masks for now.

“Kids are getting used to it. I don’t really think they’re minding too much anymore so why not take precaution and keep it on a little bit longer,” one father said. Top Stories

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