Lawyer recommends putting masks back in NB schools

A report released Friday by the New Brunswick Office of the Child, Youth and Elder Advocate recommends the province review the mask mandate in schools.

The document says the province decided to eliminate masking without providing evidence that it was safe to do so.

And although masks have been removed in schools across the province for more than a month, child and youth advocate Kelly Lamrock says they should be back on until at least May 21.

“If we line up with, for example, the Nova Scotia date, that would give us a month to get back to masks, measure and see if that reduces the increases in the number of cases that are reported. Align us with the Atlantic provinces,” Lamrock said.

He began to investigate after receiving several letters of concern.

The report found there was an overreliance on “tracking other provinces without providing evidence, projections and metrics that would support the public health recommendation,” on masking.

Lamrock says children deserve a proper decision.

“One that you say ‘here’s what we think is going to happen, here’s what we measure, here’s what would cause us to reconsider the decision,’” Lamrock said.

“And when we couldn’t get clarity on what is being measured, and why or when the decision would be reviewed, that raised some concerns.”

New Brunswick is the only Maritime province that does not require masks in schools and they have come under fire for it. Yet the education minister says it depends on public health.

“I’ve been very consistent in saying this publicly on many occasions if public health gave a different recommendation, that’s definitely something I would take very seriously,” Dominic Cardy said.

“Because I view this office as being where people with expertise provide my department with people who have expertise in education with the medical advice we need to keep our schools safe.”

The New Brunswick Medical Society is a group that advocates wearing a mask.

“In summary, we recommend the continued use of manufacturing in schools,” said company president Dr. Mark MacMillan. “And obviously, the improvement in vaccination status in this age cohort.”

Lamrock has other recommendations for the government, including rapid testing and notification of COVID-19 cases in schools, and accommodations for students who need to protect vulnerable family members.

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