TLDSB aware of ‘anxious feelings’ about lack of compulsory masking

By Kirk Winter

Director of Education for the Trillium Lakelands District School Board Wes Hahn presented a detailed update to trustees that described the system as “hopeful but anxious” as provincial mandates around COVID-19 either expired or were changed beginning March 21.

“We want to keep the learning momentum moving forward,” Hahn said. “We have remained focused on learning but we have some challenges ahead.”

Hahn said senior staff is getting a sense of how the system is reacting to the end of compulsory masking. An initial snapshot indicates that there “are anxious feelings in the system about this change.”

“With the removing of most mandates, the board will support choice regarding masking,” Hahn said. “We will support choice because everyone needs to feel welcome regardless of the choices they make.”

Hahn told trustees that hand hygiene etiquette, enhanced cleaning and the presence of portable HEPA air filtration machines in individual classrooms across the system will not change. He added that Rapid Antigen Test kits are still coming into the schools and that students who have not been vaccinated are encouraged to do so.

“We are encouraging all these pieces,” Hahn said. “We want all people to feel less anxious coming back to school.”

Hahn itemized the educational goals for the board moving forward saying there is “lots of work to be done on the issue of reading and literacy.”

“The pandemic has not had a great impact on these issues,” Hahn said.

Hahn said that a focus on equity training will soon be ongoing throughout the board, and that the future post-pandemic for TLDSB “is quite exciting.”

In the next few months, the board plans to survey staff and students “to see how they are feeling.” The board will also be focusing on leadership development and succession planning by developing the next crop of vice-principals and principals, some of whom will be added to the hiring pools in late spring.

“We want to make our decisions based on data,” Hahn said. “The data may not be perfect but every piece helps.”

Trustee John Byrne wanted to know if masks will remain mandatory on school buses, noting they’re mandatory on public transit. However, the director said masks will remain optional.

Board vice-chair Steven Binstock told Hahn that for clarity he would like to see all future board reports filtered through and connected to the board strategic plan. Binstock was also hopeful that “a year from now trustees would get a state of the board address.”


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