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Toronto school board threatens to punish teachers who wear respirator-style masks instead of surgical ones

The letter indicated that if the teacher would like to return to work, they would need to wear the blue surgical mask.

Angelo Isidorou Vancouver British Columbia

Administrators at a school in Toronto have threatened to discipline teachers who wear respirator masks in the classroom instead of the provincially-procured blue surgical masks. According to CP24, three teachers with the York Region District School Board said they were pulled aside and questioned for wearing respirator masks.

One teacher describes being pulled into a meeting with his union representatives, while another was threatened with one-day suspension without pay. Each of these teachers only spoke to CP24 under anonymity, as they are prohibited from talking about what is happening at the school.

Each of the teachers describes being initially confronted by an administration, who demanded they wear surgical masks instead. They offered to wear the board-supplied surgical mask over their respirator but were told not to.

Earlier this month, when refusing to comply, one teacher received a letter informing them they would be suspended without pay.

“We discussed that the PPE (personal protective equipment) you were wearing, specifically your mask, was not in accordance with Board requirements as it was your own,” the letter obtained by CP24 read.

“You indicated that you were not going to comply with the Board’s direction. Accordingly, you are being sent home for the remainder of the day without pay.”

The letter indicated that if the teacher would like to return to work, they would need to wear a blue surgical mask.

School board spokesperson Miguelo Licino confirmed the Board is prepared to employ “progressive steps” to ensure all teacher wear their provided blue surgical masks.

“For their health and safety and that of other staff and students, all staff members are expected to wear the provided personal protective equipment as required by regulating authorities (in our case, the provincial government),” he told CP24.

“The Board may employ progressive steps to ensure compliance with this and other provincial requirements to ensure the safety of everyone in our schools and classrooms.”

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