A Policy For Ontario Back to School From the Experts Not the Media or Politicians. A Thread.

Hospital biostatistician and high school science teacher, Ryan Imgrund, who contributed to SickKids's recommendations on allowing children to return to the classroom this fall says that Ontario's back-to-school plan is unnecessarily risky.

There is nothing that can "compare the risk of returning to school with any risk that we have right now," Ryan Imgrund told CBC from his home in York region, pointing out there are more precautions around going to bars than to class. Ryan is one of many experts who jumped to Twitter to share the latest stats and research on SarsCov2.  Amy Greer, Canada Research Chair @uofg, infectious disease epi and mathematical modeler, is cutting through the noise and political games recently endorsing a back to school thread by Marisa Caple.

Girl Wearing Ontario Back To School Masks CoVid

The thread:

1/ To start, it is important to acknowledge that non-medical masks are not personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE is specifically designed to protect the wearer in situations when risk of exposure is known to be high, as it is in some healthcare settings.

2/ Non-medical, or cloth, masks are designed for source control. They block the respiratory secretions produced by speaking, coughing, and sneezing.

This protects the group overall by reducing the concentration and circulation of potentially infectious particles in the air.

3/ In this sense, we may consider cloth masks collective protective equipment. They have the greatest impact when everyone is wearing them.

4/ When we return in September, masks will be the default across our community when we are indoors. This will be the case for both children and adults.

5/ Ministry of Education guidelines only require students to wear masks from age 9 and up. However, we believe that our younger children (aged 3-9) are capable of incorporating this hygiene habit into their classroom routine—and that the expected benefits justify the pursuit.

6/ We understand that the day is long and will therefore try to create times when masks can be safely removed. They do not need to be worn outside where physical distancing can be maintained.

7/ As has been recommended by SickKids and other experts, we will assess and reassess the implementation of this policy and its impact on both staff and children over time. We will make adjustments as necessary.

8/ Exceptions
In our toddler communities, all staff will wear masks. They will have access to both traditional cloth and “window masks.”

9/ Students in these communities will not be required to wear a face covering. Those over the age of two may choose to do so indoors, if that is their family's wish.

10/ We acknowledge that respiratory etiquette, self-care, and self-regulation require more from our younger children—which is why we must create more flexibility in these environments.
Face coverings will not be allowed during naps.

11/ If you have concerns about your child’s ability wear a mask at school, please contact us to discuss. We are here to support you.

12/ Presenting Masks to Children
Your children are aware that something difficult is happening right now.

13/ Whether they are older and you have discussed the COVID-19 pandemic directly, or they are younger and simply able to sense the heightened uncertainty, they know that these are not normal times.

14/ Much of the narrative around children and masks has focused on their capacity to comply—on how limited that may be and the errors and bad habits that may need to be corrected by the adults around them.

Masks take some getting used to, there is no doubt.

15/ But we must not underestimate your child’s natural impulse to learn, to adapt, to do good, to be kind, and to serve others in their community.

16/ Wearing a mask is an expression of care and consideration for one’s peers and teachers. In the school environment, it will be presented as such—framed as an extension of our existing respiratory etiquette.

17/ Wearing a mask is a temporary, COVID-specific behaviour that will help protect the integrity of our community.

18/ Children are highly sensitive to their physical and social surroundings. They internalize the order around them to draw conclusions about the world and how to behave. In spaces like ours, norms are readily established, shared, and upheld by children and adults alike.

19/ Your children are capable. They are resilient. This community is as much theirs as ours. Having worked to help create it, they deserve the opportunity to participate in the necessary work we now find ourselves facing—that of preventing infection and protecting one another.

Skip the Media Bias and Misinformation Follow the experts to get the latest on COVID19:

Lovely thread that explores the many considerations of masking for kids in schools. Great job :-) - Dr. Jennifer Kwan

 @AmyGreerKalisz is one of the best infectious disease modelers in the Province. If we aren’t taking advice from her, what are we doing??? -Ryan Imgrund

Amy Greer Canada Research Chair @uofg. Infectious disease epi and mathematical modeler.