Public Board Debate on Masks for JK to Gr. 3 Over Before it Begins

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The debate on a motion to add students from JK to Grade 3 to the list of students required to wear masks at public schools was over before it began.

A notice of motion from Trustee Julia Burgess was pulled from Tuesday night's Greater Essex County District School Board of Trustees Meeting agenda.

Local President of the Elementary Teachers Federation Mario Spagnuolo says trustees voted to remove the item before the meeting went live.

"the notice of motion was taken off the agenda, so there was no debate or discussion publically by our public school board trustees on this issue," he added.

A frustrated Spagnuolo made his way onto the speakers list during the meeting to plead with the board to reconsider and give an explanation as to why the item was removed.

"They're public board trustees and they should be making decisions in a transparent manner and I think what happened was not transparent and doesn't build confidence in the system or the process," he says.

Despite the challenges of young children wearing a mask, Spagnuolo says several major school boards have made them mandatory for all ages.

"The largest school board in Canada, the Toronto District School Board, has mandated masking for all of their students in all of their schools," he says. "With COVID-19 rates increasing at the rate they are, we need to do something in the school system."

Spagnuolo says a recent decision to ensure all ages wear a mask on school buses should translate directly to the classroom for the safety of students and staff.