'It’s a back up. It is not intended to be a daily supply'
Some Ontario school boards say Doug Ford’s government hasn’t committed to providing more than a “back up” supply of masks for students — experts warn that’s cause for concern.
In a recent letter to parents, the Algoma District School Board said the Ford government informed the ADSB it will only provide a “small supply” of masks for students — as “back up.”
The letter reads:
“On Friday, August 14th, we learned that the Ministry of Education is not making masks available for students (as previously indicated in the Guide to Reopening Ontario’s Schools), but rather is providing a small supply as back up for School Boards, and that parents are expected to provide a mask for their children.”
The ADSB did not respond to requests for comment from PressProgress. But the letter further says it will provide students with two cloth masks each in September.
“We do need parents to ensure that masks are cleaned daily and that children arrive each day with a clean mask,” it reads.
Ontario Public School Board Association government affairs director Shane Gonsalves said the Algoma board isn’t alone. “The Ministry is providing boards with a supply of back-up masks for students, but students attending schools at which they are expected to wear masks are expected to supply their own masks. “
“It’s a backup. It is not intended to be a daily supply,” Gonsalves said.
Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation President Harvey Bischof told PressProgress “There will be some emergency supplies on hand, but a student who repeatedly didn’t show up with a mask wouldn’t necessarily be repeatedly provided with one, is what we’re hearing.”
“It puts an additional strain on those who can least afford a masking supply and may make it harder for some of them to comply,” Bishof said. “it’s an absurd position given the viral spread.”
Additionally, while Waterloo Region District School Board requires students in grades K-12 wear face coverings in class and on the bus — Student Transportation Services of Waterloo Region noted on its website, Aug. 17:
Should your child forget their mask, their bus driver will provide them with a standard-size disposable mask before boarding the bus; however, masks will not be supplied to students on a daily basis.
WRDSB did not respond to requests for comment from PressProgresss but its website reads “Masks will be provided to students who forget their masks. We want all students to be able to ride the bus and attend school.”
Ontario’s Ministry of Education did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
As PressProgress reported previously, the Ford government has also failed to mandate smaller classes across the province — resulting in smaller classes being ‘collapsed’ into larger ones.