Mississauga and Brampton school teachers told to eat alone outside, wear goggles
School teachers in Mississauga and Brampton have been ordered to wear goggles and eat alone outside because of increasing transmissions of COVID-19 between staff members.
A directive issued by the Peel District School Board to staff says the goggles or face shields are now mandatory "to protect the mucous membranes of the eyes from exposure to potentially infectious droplets" of the virus.
As well, the directive also says teachers and staff must not congregate and must eat alone at lunchtime, "preferably outdoors."
Teachers have acted swiftly and angrily to the new sanctions with many complaining the Ontario Ministry of Education is putting the blame on them for the rising cases of COVID in the school systems.
Some say they are not even allowed to take off their masks to take a sip of water when monitoring students.
A memo sent to staff outlines what staff can and cannot do:
- Cannot congregate with anyone else and must eat alone, as much as possible, preferably outdoors
- Unmask only while eating lunch and then immediately put their mask back on
- Remain two metres or more away from all others if you must eat in common space (eating alone is strongly recommended). Extra furniture can be removed from the workrooms and only keep what is possible to allow for a two-metre distance
- Open windows in lunch rooms, as tolerated
- Mark capacity limits in lunch rooms to allow for more than 2m or more distancing between tables.
- Create sign-in/out sheets to track staff that had lunch at the same time
- Do not eat or drink in classrooms with students present
Along with the face shield or goggles, teachers must continue to wear masks at all times, even when they are outside on school property.
"The only exception is if a staff member is completely alone in a room and the door is close (windows open is ideal)," the directive says. "Once anyone enters the room, or the staff member leaves, they must put back on their mask and face shield or goggles."
Teacher online forums have been flooded with complaints about the new rules saying it only adds to the poor conditions that have already existed since classrooms re-opened. Many also expressed concern about the rising incidents of COVID cases among students with many openly suggesting schools should not be open right now, especially with variants on the rise.
(A photo widely shared on Twitter by educators shows a teacher eating by herself outside)
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