Face masks voluntary at TLDSB schools this year

By James Matthews

There’s much optimism at the Trillium Lakelands District School Board for the coming school year.

Wes Hahn, director of education at the school board, said at the group’s Aug. 23 meeting that much work was done by senior management over the summer in preparation for the 2022-23 school year.

Officials will continue to be vigilant against the spread of COVID-19 as the pandemic brought on by the coronavirus in 2020 continues.

He said family and staff will continue to be screened at schools under the umbrella of the board. Stringent cleaning standards and HEPA air filtering will remain in practice.

Wearing face masks will be voluntary, Hahn said. Such a precaution was made mandatory during the August 2020 board meeting.

“Right now, we’re operating under the assumption we’re going to start up in the regular mode of entering into the school,” he said of the year’s start.

“There’s a lot of hope and optimism around the senior team table.”

Paul Goldring, superintendent of learning, described some of the work underway to bring back outdoor learning.

Goldring introduced a plan for an outdoor education review committee to review outdoor education programming and its locations, which will include the Yearley Outdoor Education Centre.

The centre has been closed the past two years, since the first lockdown, because of the pandemic. The board considered opening the Yearly Centre last spring, but too many health and safety issues need to be resolved before it can be opened.

The committee will also develop a long-term strategy for outdoor education for TLDSB students. As a short-term strategy, Grade 6 students will attend Camp Muskoka near Bracebridge during the 2022-23 school year to ensure students continue to receive outdoor education opportunities during the duration of the review.

Goldring said he believes strongly in the benefits of outdoor education.

An update with recommendations will be provided after the outdoor education review committee has evaluated options for outdoor education in TLDSB.

“We’re very fortunate to have schools and families that live in areas where there are so many opportunities for students to be outdoors,” Goldring said.