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Quebec health director considering dropping mask mandates in schools

Montreal -

Mask mandates in Quebec schools could soon be ended, according to the province’s Director of Public Health Dr. Luc Boileau, who told La Presse health authorities are considering the move.

“We have to ask ourselves whether we still need to ask for this protection for children,” Boileau told the newspaper, adding that millions of children are estimated to have already caught the virus, and are unlikely to be re-infected in the coming months.

Boileau says he and his team will study and statistical justification for the change over the weekend.  

But even if a significant portion of students have immunity, some say it’s still too soon.

“I believe that if Omicron gets introduced into the classroom space, and there are no masks being used, those who remain susceptible, meaning they have not had the infection since mid-December, will have a very high likelihood of getting infected,” said Dr. Earl Rubin, a pediatric infectious disease specialist.

Teachers are also concerned that the removal of mask rules will put them at greater risk, said Rubin.

“They’re worried about bringing it home to their children, they’re worried about long-COVID,” he said.

It’s difficult to pinpoint just how many students and teachers have caught COVID-19 in Quebec since the province restricted COVID-19 testing to certain priority groups.

As of Feb. 15, 24,742 students, (about 2.5 per cent) were absent from school with either confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases. As for schools staff, that number stood at 3,177, or about 1.3 per cent.

“Children are just like adults,” said Heidi Yetman, president of the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers, when asked how she thought students would react to the loosening of mask measures.

“Some of them will be like, ‘yes, finally I get to remove it,’ and others will be worried,” she said, “because they’ve been told, over and over again, that you’re protecting yourself and you’re protecting others by wearing a mask.” Top Stories

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