Kramberger: Will lack of mask wearing in Quebec schools affect final exams?

Simply as a precaution, the mandate should have been kept for schools and yellow bus trips until the exam period.

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Although the Lester B. Pearson School Board announced it will continue to honor a student’s choice to wear a mask while sitting in class, after the Quebec government ended most of its remaining mask mandates last Saturday, indications are that most have changed.

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The Dorval-based English board stated that it will instruct its schools to allow the use of masks and will continue to provide free masks to students and staff.

My sources at a Pointe-Claire high school reported that about five to seven students per class have continued to wear masks, and that perhaps one or two of the six teachers they see per day have continued to wear masks this week.

I’m not here to point fingers and pass judgment on personal choices allowed by government health directives, but was it wise for Quebec to withdraw the mask mandate as students headed for final exams?

Yes, the vast majority of Western Islanders have been vaccinated against COVID-19, and some have been triple or quadruple vaccinated, but that hasn’t been 100 percent effective in preventing someone from testing positive.

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Simply as a precaution, the mandatory use of masks should have been maintained for schools and yellow bus trips until the period of final exams.

The Pearson board informed parents that absences for final exams must be excused with an official doctor’s note.

The board noted that isolation protocols for schools remain in place for people who test positive for COVID-19. He advised that students should not report to school when feeling unwell, and strongly encourages them to use rapid tests if they show any symptoms. Additionally, students coming out of COVID-related isolation will be required to wear a mask at all times for the first five days of their return.

In the fall of 2020, the Pearson board decided it couldn’t wait for the province to act and opted instead to spend $500,000 on high-end filters for schools with mechanical ventilation systems and wall-mounted air purifiers for classrooms in buildings that they only had natural water. ventilation (which means opening windows and doors).

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Too bad Quebec has not yet adequately addressed air quality issues by creating a funding program to improve air filtration in all schools, especially older ones that do not have mechanical ventilation systems.

Even if there isn’t another wave of COVID-19 cases in the fall, air quality in schools is a long-term concern, not only to deal with the pandemic, but also to help prevent the spread of the flu. or colds, and to help people with asthma.

Albert Kramberger is editor of the West Island/Off-Island section of the Montreal Gazette.

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