Mask mandate debate at Ottawa-Carleton school board ends without vote

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Earlier than the assembly was adjourned, trustees started to debate the sophisticated difficulty of precisely the place a masks mandate could be in impact — faculty buses? After faculty dances? — and the way it may very well be enforced

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A gathering of the Ottawa-Carleton District College Board Tuesday night ended with no vote on imposing masks guidelines after individuals who oppose such mandates disrupted it with heckling and police cleared attendees from the room.

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The talk on a movement to require face masks use amongst college students and workers inside Ottawa’s largest faculty board continued just about, following the disruptions, however was adjourned at 10:30 p.m. to renew one other day. The board didn’t specify when that might be.

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About 200 individuals attended the assembly in particular person, and most of them seemed to be against the re-introduction of masks necessities at board faculties.

The assembly started with delegations who spoke for or in opposition to the masks movement, sometimes going through cheers or heckles from the gang, which prompted board chair Lyra Evans to warn that individuals could be requested to depart in the event that they saved inflicting a ruckus.

Ottawa-Carleton District School Board trustee and chair Lyra Evans.
Ottawa-Carleton District College Board trustee and chair Lyra Evans. Picture by Julie Oliver /Postmedia

However the disruptions continued. Two breaks had been known as and several other individuals had been escorted out earlier than  Evans introduced the in-person assembly was over and would resume just about.

The scene was generally chaotic, with protesters milling about, chanting “freedom” and “disgrace” and singing O Canada. Just a few protesters hollered at trustees, who at one level had been gathered within the nook of the board room away from the gang.

One attendee plunked a cardboard field filled with yellow envelopes on the boardroom desk and yelled: “These are notices of legal responsibility. You’re hereby served!”

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Police had been known as at one level and everybody was requested to depart the college board constructing.

Earlier than that occurred, CHEO’s chief of workers, Lindy Samson, who appeared just about, was jeered at when she defined that proof helps the effectiveness of sporting a masks to curb the transmission of respiratory viruses, which are actually sending document numbers of youngsters to hospital.

Samson gave an summary of the state of affairs at CHEO, saying she has by no means seen so many kids severely sick with respiratory viruses. It’s pushed principally by RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and flu, but in addition COVID-19.

The hospital’s ICU was at 200 per cent capability, in-patient beds had been at 185 per cent capability and Monday evening, the wait time to see a health care provider on the emergency division was so long as 13 hours, she mentioned. The hospital is suspending sure surgical procedures and procedures, together with mind and coronary heart surgical procedures.

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The surge might final one other 4 to 6 weeks, she mentioned.

When the assembly resumed just about, Samson was requested how efficient masks could be on the Ottawa-Carleton board if they aren’t required in different public locations within the metropolis.

“Each little bit helps,” mentioned Samson.

The province’s chief Medical Officer of Well being, Dr. Kieran Moore, strongly recommends individuals put on a masks in indoor public locations, together with faculties, however has not really useful they be required.

The province lifted the masks mandate for many public locations final March.

College of Ottawa epidemiologist Raywat Deonandan, who additionally appeared just about, was met with boos from the gang when he mentioned a short lived masks mandate was the one resolution to the “actual and scary” disaster at CHEO. “Youngsters are going to die until we gradual this (down).”

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Mother or father Wade Shanley, who has three kids, mentioned trustees ought to think about the latest workers survey that recommended fewer than 10 per cent of youngsters on the board’s faculties presently put on masks. That’s proof that folks and youngsters don’t assist a masks mandate, he mentioned.

Blake Maguire, a mum or dad of 4, mentioned he was “actually begging” trustees to not require masks, which he mentioned harmed kids. When masks went on, his children suffered from nervousness and despair, he mentioned.

Ottawa-Carleton District School Board trustee Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth.
Ottawa-Carleton District College Board trustee Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth. Picture by Julie Oliver /Postmedia

Trustee Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth, who proposed the masking movement, urged fellow trustees to “do one thing easy and efficient proper now to assist maintain kids and educators more healthy and safer.”

She urged trustees to contemplate the weary dad and mom sitting on the emergency division in CHEO or desperately phoning their household medical doctors or pediatricians as a result of their kids are struggling to breathe, she mentioned.

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Trustee Donna Blackburn, who opposes the masks mandate, requested why, if the state of affairs is so dire, neither Moore nor Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Well being, Dr. Vera Etches, have imposed masks mandates.

Ottawa-Carleton District School Board trustee Donna Blackburn (centre).
Ottawa-Carleton District College Board trustee Donna Blackburn (centre). Picture by Julie Oliver /Postmedia

Etches didn’t attend the board assembly, however she submitted a written report.

Ottawa Public Well being has “strongly really useful” individuals put on masks in indoor public locations since late August, first as a consequence of COVID, and now for the triple menace of RSV, flu and COVID.

“The extra those who put on high-quality masks in indoor settings, the higher the profit,” said the transient from Etches.

At faculties, OPH says it’s key to “foster understanding that mask-wearing protects others and to make mask-wearing a neater choice.” Adults can lead by instance, the report said.

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The “overwhelming majority” of wholesome kids can tolerate sporting a masks, particularly if their friends are doing so, with “no proof of bodily, cognitive or goal psychological well being influence,” mentioned the report.

The biggest mental-health impacts on children through the pandemic are in all probability brought on by social isolation, faculty and community-based closures and restrictions, the report said.

Nonetheless, the report mentioned, some dad and mom and a few educators are involved that requiring masks could have an “emotional toll” and create division in faculties, and amongst associates and households.

As well as, the report questioned the thought of asking college students and workers to get a medical masks exemption, saying it’d put a burden each on households, a few of whom don’t have a health care provider or who’ve bother getting an appointment, and on the health-care system.

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Earlier than the assembly was adjourned at 10:30 p.m., trustees started to debate the sophisticated difficulty of precisely the place a masks mandate could be in impact — faculty buses? After faculty dances? — and the way it may very well be enforced.

Trustee Lynn Scott famous that the district already has a scarcity of bus drivers, and requiring them to police scholar mask-wearing may make the matter worse.

The Ottawa-Carleton board’s masks coverage shifted lately, based mostly on recommendation from public well being officers, from simply encouraging to “strongly encouraging” masking at faculties, which have been supplied with indicators, based on a board report.

A board spokesperson mentioned masking was additionally “strongly inspired” at public board conferences, however not required.

Throughout Tuesday’s assembly, 4 trustees — Blackburn, Jennifer Jennekens, Donna Dickson and Matthew Lee — didn’t put on masks, whereas the remaining eight trustees had been masked, as was the director of training.

jmiller@postmedia.com

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