Despite warnings from their education director that it was unworkable at this stage, trustees with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) have voted 8-1 to reinstate a mask mandate for students and staff.

After nearly two hours of procedural wrangling, in-camera questions and twisted logic, the motion on Tuesday to mandate mask use in all OCDSB buildings was approved with absolutely no deadline given for it to be lifted.

Only trustee Donna Blackburn voted against the edict, which impacts all 70,000 students and OCDSB staff.  Blackburn said she wouldn’t support the motion because she refuses to give people a “false sense of security.

“We have no way to enforce a mask mandate,” she said. “It’s highly irresponsible to give people the idea schools will be safer.”

As the emergency motion stated, masks are needed to control the “spread of the virus” and the apparently significant blip in Ottawa cases.

Three trustees, who’d expressed reservations with the mandate, ended up abstaining – seemingly afraid to go against the “woke” groupthink of their colleagues.

Education director Camille Williams Taylor cautioned trustees at the outset of the meeting that in the past six weeks since the mandate was lifted, there’d been a “shift in focus” from COVID and mandatory masking to student learning.

“I am concerned we are (yet again) putting staff on the front line to police masking,” she said, adding that the big question is how they enforce compliance.

She added that the community is very divided on the masking issue.

After two long years, the Doug Ford government lifted the mask mandate in all Ontario schools when students returned from March break on Mar. 21. Despite the move, many NDP politicians and leftist doctors will not let it go, and continue to fearmonger about the recent blip in Omicron cases.

Trustee Mark Fisher introduced the motion – with strong support from fellow NDPers Justine Bell and openly trans trustee Lyra Evans – indicating he takes his responsibility “very seriously” to protect students against the next wave of COVID.

“I am trying to bring forward an extra safety measure because the province refuses to act,” Fisher said.

Bell said she worried about all the absences from class and the educators being afraid, claiming the lack of a mask mandate compromises mental health and worsens the anxiety of everyone who wants to “learn in a safe space.” 

She ignored the board’s assistant director when he made it clear the absences – around 15% – are pretty average and likely related to illnesses other than COVID (like a cold or the flu).

Bell also seemed not to care about the mental health of students who’ve been stuck in masks (that do very little) all day at school for the past two years.

“The opinions of the vocal do not matter to me… we live in Ottawa where people follow rules when they are mandated (to do so),” she added.

That says it all.

Trustee Wendy Hough, the board’s lead on Indigenous issues, said that due to colonialism and racism many Indigenous staff don’t have the ability to take time off work.

Could we get woker than that?

Whether this was just another power trip or an effort to try to make the Ford government look bad, these trustees have yet again gone too far. Not only are they using students as pawns, but their move makes absolutely no sense.

How do they think they’re going to protect students and teachers when the mask mandate has been lifted everywhere else?

Even if they themselves wear masks to the grocery store or other venues – as they’ve repeatedly claimed they do – sporting events and other places where students gather are now mask-free.

These self-anointed doctors are deluding themselves if they think their mandate will have any impact on COVID numbers whatsoever. Trouble is, seeing what the woke folk at the OCDSB did might encourage other boards to follow suit.

They don’t have an ounce of common sense among them.

Author

  • Sue-Ann Levy

    A two-time investigative reporting award winner and nine-time winner of the Toronto Sun’s Readers Choice award for news writer, Sue-Ann Levy made her name for advocating the poor, the homeless, the elderly in long-term care and others without a voice and for fighting against the striking rise in anti-Semitism and the BDS movement across Canada.

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