‘The time has come’: TVDSB drops masking mandate

The Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) has announced masks will no longer be mandated for staff and students effective March 21.

With the March Break period beginning, the date represents the next regular school day on the calendar.

“The time has come”, TVDSB Director Mark Fisher stated in an interview with CTV London.

After two years of COVID-19 school closures and restrictions, students and parents will notice most restrictions disappear on the 21st.

That includes co-horting and physical distancing in schools and on school buses.

Among other changes, the return of school assemblies, graduation ceremonies and proms, and most, if not all, extracurricular activities.

“So a lot of those things that make schools an exciting place for students will be reinstated. Some right away March 21, some other over the next few weeks.”

TVDSB Director Mark Fisher is seen on Friday, March 11, 2022 (Sean Irvine CTV News)

The announcement is receiving mixed news from parents. Not surprisingly, the debate over masking continues.

“I am going to encourage them to wear them, especially in closed spaces,” states parent Sarah Smith.

Eva Neudorf is opting to let her 9-year-old decide. “It’s up to him. It’s his decision for him, so if he wants to wear one, he can.

Eva Neudorf on March 11, 2022. (Sean Irvine/CTV London)

Nicole Bechard also plans to let her older children decide but also wants assurances kids are still encouraged to take some safety measures. “As long as they keep washing their hands, keeping their distances, they should be good.”

Other parents worry about bullying should a child choose to wear a mask or not.

Fisher acknowledges it could be a problem, but one they’re prepared to handle.

“We may have some schools where students could potentially face stigma for wearing a mask. We may have sites where they might face stigma for not wearing a mask. What we are talking about is honoring choice and being respectful.”

But as most restrictions in TVDSB schools fall, Fisher acknowledges a step or two backward is still possible if cases rise.

“And if we see anything that trends in the wrong direction, we’ll pivot as we have before with classrooms, back to that virtual platform.”

Sarah Smith is seen on March 11, 2022. (Sean Irvine/CTV London)

But that happens, Sarah Smith ultimately agrees with the direction TVDSB unless it is taking.

“It’s time. We are vaccinated. And, if you are not vaccinated, you’re probably not going to be at this point, so it’s time to move on.”

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