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March 2022: Mask mandate lifting in schools

Question: I am an occupational therapist working in school health. With the masking mandate being lifted in schools, do I still need to wear a mask when providing service?

Answer: On March 9th, the Ontario government announced changes to masking mandates and the lifting of any remaining public health measures, directives and orders by the end of April. Masking requirements will be removed in “most places (including schools), except public transit, long-term care, retirement homes and other health-care settings, shelters, jails and congregate care and living settings, including homes for individuals with developmental disabilities”, effective March 21, 2022. This also includes the lifting of other measures in schools, including removing cohorting and daily on-site screening.

Occupational therapists providing service in schools are still expected to follow COTO’s Standards for Infection Prevention and Control, 2019. This includes being knowledgeable about the current evidence based IPAC measures, doing their own point of care risk assessment and applying the measures to your practice situation to minimize risks to clients and self. Individual organizations will continue to have the discretion and authority to keep requirements in place. OTs are encouraged to speak with their employers if there are differing policies between the workplace and the practice setting, in order to reach a reasonable resolution.

Occupational therapists in all practice settings are expected to keep up to date via government websites about any orders, directives and guidance from the Ministry of Health and Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Visit the Ontario government website to learn how Ontario intends to lift the remaining public health and workplace safety measures and learn to manage COVID-19 for the long-term.

For any questions, please contact our Practice Resource Service at 1.800.890.6570 ext. 240 or [email protected].  

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