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Opposition leader, parents call for return to masking in N.B. classrooms

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A New Brunswick parent describes a sense of ‘vindication’ after reading through the recently released report from the province’s Child & Youth Advocate on the lifting of COVID-19 measures in the classroom.

“The conclusions and all the points made are exactly what myself and a number of others have been saying since February 24,” says John Gunn, of Riverview N.B. “When premier Higgs first announced the plan to remove all protective measures in New Brunswick.”

Gunn has two school-age children, one of whom has been waiting since September for a surgery that has been cancelled six times — the most recent of which was because the child caught COVID-19 after only three days in class.

“While, he himself was wearing a fitted children’s N-95 mask, because he was the only child in his entire class wearing a mask,” says Gunn.

“I think it was irresponsible to remove [masks] as quickly as [the province] did in the first place. As pointed out in the report, there doesn’t seem to be any data or evidence-based reasoning behind that decision.”

The report by Child & Youth Advocate Kelly Lamrock lists eight recommendations, including having Public Health review the decision to lift COVID-19 mask mandates in schools – and that a proper decision on this should be issued by May 21.

“Bring back the masks right now, and make us understand from a scientific and epidemiology and risk level perspective, why the masks were lifted,” says New Brunswick Leader of the Opposition Roger Melanson.

“I’m worried, I’m really concerned about the politics that’s being played now, or seem to be being played by the premier and his entire government in managing the pandemic at this time.”

Another of the recommendations in the report, is that there should be clear protocols for school leaders when a student has to test, report, or be absent from school because of exposure, symptoms, or a positive test.

“Public Health and Education and Early Childhood Development will be reviewing [Friday’s] recommendations and would like to thank the Child Youth Advocate for his report,” reads a statement sent on behalf of Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Yves Leger.

“Recently, the Health Minister announced that she was welcoming a review by the Auditor General to New Brunswick’s COVID-19 response. And earlier [Friday], the Departments of Health and Education and Early Childhood Development issued a joint statement saying they would continue to work together to maintain and nurture the health of New Brunswick’s children.”

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