LDSB allows staff use of any Health Canada approved masks

At their last meeting, the Limestone District School Board (LDSB) Board of Trustees discussed and approved a motion regarding allowing staff to bring their face masks to work, providing those masks are approved by Health Canada. 

The previous Notice of Motion presented by Trustee Robin Hutcheon stated, “That Limestone District School Board approves the use of N95 masks for all education workers, provided by the workers.”

A woman wearing an N95 face mask. Photo by Griffin Wooldridge.

The new wording of the motion, debated and approved in the last board meeting, was that “Limestone District School Board staff be permitted to purchase their masks if they choose, provided those masks are better than level 2/surgical masks and are Health Canada approved; and the director ensures this measure is operationally workable in its implementation.”

According to the Public Health authorities, masking is crucial as a critical factor in mitigating the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Along with masking, other measures that help prevent the spread of the virus include vaccination, improved ventilation and filtration, and spacing, where possible, as other mitigating measures. 

Presently, level 2 surgical/procedural masks are provided to the school board for all the employees by the Ministry of Education across school boards. In October, teachers in both the Toronto and Ottawa areas were taken aback to learn that not only were they not allowed to bring masks of their own to work — even those masks are approved by Health Canada — but also that some of their colleagues were being threatened with disciplinary action for doing so with N95 masks.

“By allowing staff to bring their masks, provided they are approved by Health Canada and are at least level 2 surgical masks or above, we want to make sure staff feels safe and comfortable,” explained Suzanne Ruttan, Chair of Limestone District School Board Board of Trustees.

“The Director at the individual schools will ensure this measure is workable and smoothly implemented across schools,” she said. 

Ruttan also explained that the selection of the masks is beyond the expertise of LDSB staff, but to ensure maximum safety, Health Canada and Public Health officials’ guidelines must be implemented as discussed in the board meeting. 

A chart of masks and respirators approved by Health Canada, with details about their requirements and uses. Graphic via Health Canada.

Students are supposed to bring their non-medical or cloth masks to the schools, while those who forget or misplace a mask during school time would be provided a replacement within the school. 

For the N95 masks, the Board consulted with Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health, who informed the Board that they would not recommend those masks because “they do not likely add any significant amount of protection over medical masks with other controls in place.” 

In any case, during the discussion at the board, the consensus was made that teachers could bring their masks, be it N95 or surgical, or any other approved by Health Canada and appropriately worn to ensure maximum safety. 

Previously the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board also voted in mid-October to allow teachers and staff to wear any mask above level 2 masks, including N95, if Health Canada approves them.

For more information on the use of masks and face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic from Health Canada, click here.

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