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LDSB to require masks for all students, grades K-12

Kingstonist file photo

The Limestone District School Board (LDSB) has passed a unanimous motion to require face masks for all students, from kindergarten to grade 12. This is an additional measure beyond the provincial masking requirement for students in grades four and up.

Brought forward by Trustee Garrett Elliott, the motion passed at a meeting on Wednesday Aug. 26, 2020. It calls for all students to wear masks in schools and on buses, while allowing for appropriate medical exemptions. After discussion, trustees amended the motion, adding a request for staff to explore alternatives such as face shields for younger students.

The motion also indicates that staff work toward compliance among younger students, with compassion and a focus on education. There will be no disciplinary action for students from kindergarten to grade three that have difficulty complying with the rule.

Trustee Elliott had previously tabled the mask motion at a board meeting on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020. However, trustees deferred it to last night, requiring time to review and prepare.

Local doctor offers mask tips for kids

On Tuesday, Aug. 24, local infections disease and pediatric specialist Dr. Kirk Leifso shared his insights on masking for younger children in a video from KFL&A Public Health.

“There’s certainly some debate around this,” he said. “In general I think we can certainly give children credit for being able to do things that seem difficult to us, but they actually put up with quite easily.”

Dr. Lefiso said he doesn’t see difficulties for most young children learning how to use or wear masks appropriately, particularly in his own clinic.

He advised parents to introduce masking to children before school starts, and have them at home for extended periods of time.

“Children will do what is required of them and what is good behaviour if it is modeled for them and reinforced positively before they go to school, and when they get to school,” he said.

Board to examine other safety measures

The LDSB also board voted unanimously to request a staff report on the purchase of stand-alone HEPA air filters for windowless classrooms, and to prioritize ventilation improvements above all other school renewal projects. They also voted in favour of a staff report on plexiglass shields or movable dividers for classrooms.

Finally, the board discussed a motion to send a letter to the Ministry of Education providing feedback on the provincial school reopening plan. Seeking to strike the balance between critical and constructive wording, the board asked the Chair and staff to continue working on a draft for the board’s review

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Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative

Samantha Butler-Hassan is a staff writer and life-long Kingston resident. She is a news junkie and mom who loves reading and exploring the community. This article has been made possible with the support of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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