HCDSB students, staff and visitors must wear a mask/face covering while inside the school building.
Student Mask Use
- All HCDSB students (K- 12) are required to wear non-medical masks/ face coverings at school.
- Students are expected to bring their own masks to wear on student transportation and at school. Non-medical 3-ply masks will also be made available by schools for students if needed. Students should bring an additional mask to school in the event that their mask gets wet, damaged or soiled.
- Masks must be worn indoors, including hallways, during classes, on school buses, and in the Before and After School Program.
- Masks may be temporarily removed indoors for eating and drinking at lunch or break times. Mask breaks will also be provided.
- Students are not required to wear masks outdoors, but 2m distancing should be maintained between cohorts as much as possible.
- Where they can be worn safely based on the activity, masking is encouraged for engaging in physical activity.
Some Notes About Masks:
Neck gaiters (neck warmers)
Neck gaiters (also known as neck warmers) are not recommended because they:
- are not well secured to the head or ears and are likely to move or slip out of place.
- are difficult to remove without contamination.
If a neck gaiter must be used as a face covering:
- It should be folded to provide at least 3 layers of fabric and should include a filter or filter fabric added between layers.
- It should be lifted away from the face, especially when removing.
- Hands should be washed or cleansed alcohol-based hand sanitizer anytime it is adjusted, donned or removed.
Masks with exhalation valves
Masks with exhalation valves or vents are not recommended. These masks do not protect others from COVID-19 or limit the spread of the virus. This is because they allow infectious respiratory droplets to spread outside the mask.
A face bracket under a mask is not recommended as there is currently insufficient evidence regarding its potential impact on the performance of the mask. Note that the addition of the bracket under the mask may increase risk due to the potential for an individual to touch their mask/face more frequently.
Lanyards are not recommended.
A medical mask or non-medical disposable mask must be discarded when it becomes visibly soiled, damp, or damaged. Masks are to be discarded in a lined garbage bin.
Additional guidance about student mask use can also be found in the COVID-19: Health, Safety and Operational Guidance for Schools (2021-2022) under the following sections:
Mask breaks for students
Supervised mask breaks will be provided for students throughout the school day. Mask breaks can be taken when physical distancing is maintained, and other preventative measures are in place. Mask breaks for students will be planned within their cohort and with appropriate physical distancing. They may occur outdoor
- During outdoor time with their cohort.
- During nutritional breaks in their classroom, within their classroom cohort when students are seated at their desks.
- Additional breaks may be considered if the students are seated, within their classroom cohort with as much distancing as possible.
- Appropriate hand hygiene immediately before and after handling masks will be reinforced.
Exemptions for Mask Wearing by Students
With reasonable exceptions, a student may be granted an exemption from the requirement to wear a mask or face covering.
An exemption may be requested for a student in Kindergarten – Grade 12 for the following reasons:
- A pre-existing medical condition.
- A diagnosis or learning profile that would limit a student’s ability to tolerate or safely wear a mask, including whereby a mask would affect essential communication for a person who is hearing impaired.
- Other, as detailed by a physician or nurse practitioner.
Parents and guardians requesting an exemption from mask wearing for their child(ren) during the 2021-2022 school year are asked to contact the School Principal. All mask exemptions expire on the last day of the school year.
Staff Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Medical masks will be provided for teachers and all other school staff.
- Medical masks must be worn by all school-based staff and visitors indoors in school, including in hallways and during classes.
- Staff are not required to wear medical masks outdoors but must have appropriate PPE available in case physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- Staff must maintain at least two metres distancing when consuming food/drink.
- Clear masks may be worn by staff in cases where it is necessary for faces to be seen for lip reading to support students/staff who are deaf or hard of hearing or during interventions such as Empower or articulation therapy where mouth visibility supports the efficacy of intervention.
- Eye protection (such as face shields or goggles) must be worn when staff are working with students who are not wearing a mask consistently or correctly.
Additional guidance about student mask use can also be found in the COVID-19: Health, Safety and Operational Guidance for Schools (2021-2022) under Staff Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).