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'They aren’t medical experts:' Ford tells school boards to follow mask-lifting protocol

'The chief medical officer is the expert. He has done his due diligence, he has consulted with other medical officers,' premier says during Barrie stop

With in-school mask mandates being lifted when kids return to class after March break, Premier Doug Ford had a message to school boards looking to defy the new directive.

During a stop in Barrie on Friday for an announcement at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH), Ford was asked about the mask mandate being lifted on March 21 and how some school boards were upset about the move. 

On Thursday, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board voted to continue masking until April 15, as a precautionary measure when kids come back after the break and socializing during their week off.

Ford was asked what he would say to school boards that defy the order to lift mandatory masking.

“Let me be clear to the school boards  they aren’t medical experts. The chief medical officer is the expert. He has done his due diligence, he has consulted with other medical officers, be it Dr. de Villa (Toronto) or Dr. Etches in Ottawa, he doesn't make these decisions lightly,” the premier said.

“But our expectations of the school boards, with the exception of parents who want their kids to put masks on, follow the direction of the chief medical officer — plain and simple. That's what we expect and hopefully they’ll do that," Ford added. 

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, announced Wednesday that school mask mandates would end on March 21.  He also stated that all masking measures will drop on April 27.

While masking will no longer be mandated, public health officials are still encouraging it.

Ford was also asked about those who are worried about masks being lifted, especially people who are immunocompromised and elderly.

“I’d say keep your mask on. That's going to be an option, that's the direction we received from Dr. Moore and as you can see right across the country," he said. "B.C. announced they're dropping it today. They just announced it and bang, dropped it.

“We’re one of the last jurisdictions in North America to be doing this. I’ve always been cautious. I’ve been accused of being the most cautious and I have no problem being the most cautious," Ford added.