Corp Comm Connects

York Region's top doc recommends masking for kindergarteners

The province is only requiring masks for students in grades 1 to 12 when indoors
Aug. 24, 2021
Joseph Quigley

York Region is urging parents to mask their young children as students return to school.

Medical officer of health Dr. Karim Kurji discussed back-to-school procedures in an Aug. 23 video update, saying that students attending kindergarten and junior kindergarten in person should mask up due to the continued threat of COVID-19.

The province requires students in grades 1 to 12 to wear masks indoors with some exceptions, but that does not apply to junior and senior kindergarten.

The health unit is considering new measures due to rising COVID-19 cases, with masking for the youngest students a concern across multiple health units. However, York Region Public Health has not yet announced any new regional mandates.

Kurji said masking is still needed for all residents due to the contagious delta variant, a projected 100-cases per day to come in York Region in the fall, and other respiratory illnesses increasing, as well. However, he added that those unable to wear a mask for medical reasons will not have to.

No COVID-19 vaccines have yet been approved for children under 12. However, the province announced last week that eligibility was expanding to anyone born in 2009, a move Kurji said he approves.

“York Region welcomes this news, as it will support a safer return to school by ensuring more children and youth can benefit from the protection,” Kurji said.

The province has also announced third vaccination doses would start for vulnerable populations like organ transplant recipients. Kurji said York would announce details of the local rollout soon.

He repeated his call for people to get a COVID-19 vaccine if they have not already. Although the previous mass vaccination clinics are closing, Kurji said pop-up clinics are continuing, and a new hub for vaccination is starting at York’s headquarters in Newmarket.

“As cases continue to increase, the province has delayed the next step in reopening. We must not let all of our hard work come undone,” Kurji said. “We must continue following all public health measures.”