DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,
for The Standard

DURHAM: The Durham District School Board (DDSB) has decided to require Kindergarten students to wear masks when in-person learning returns to their schools.


The decision was made at a special board meeting held on Wednesday, January 5th.


“What I know is there are conflicting views on masking. There are conflicting views on [the] masking of smaller children in particular. But there is plenty of evidence to support the idea that masking is an important piece of this suite of health and safety measures,” Whitby Trustee Niki Lundquist said.


The Whitby trustee added the board has “health and safety obligations” and noted, “the youngest learners in our system are largely unvaccinated.”


Pickering trustee Chris Braney stated his support for this motion.


“We’re dealing with a completely different scenario with [COVID-19] than we were originally. I just feel very strongly that we need to be proactive with this,” he said.


The motion also received support from another Whitby trustee.


“Wearing a mask causes no physical harm to anyone,” trustee Scott Templeton said.


But Ajax trustee Donna Edwards brought up communication concerns regarding this change.


“I have a huge concern of further delay to speech and language, social and emotional development for our kindergarten students who have special education needs, ESL needs, or students who may not yet be identified with learning needs. The impact will be even higher for children in schools identified with low EDI (early development instrument) scores or at at-risk schools,” she stated.


However, a five to three vote approved the Kindergarten masking motion.