Ontario principal removes mask exempt students from in-person schooling

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In this story, I’m bringing you the details of a parent who has been on the receiving end of the arbitrary enforcement of mask mandates at a publicly-funded school.

Bob Wannamaker, a father of four, has not had any issue with all of his children attending in-person learning without masks for the last year and half.

But now, the principal of Tyendinaga Public School, J. Hawkins, has taken it upon herself to deny Bob’s children in-person learning at her school, which falls within the Hastings-Prince Edward District School Board. This is despite his two older children remaining in attendance for in-person learning at a high school in their locale, their mask exemptions continuing to be honoured.

Bob and I discuss what he thinks has changed recently with this principal and the school board, why his two younger children are now being forced back online, and how, once again, lack of accountability and transparency is the new normal.

Principal Hawkins refers to Section 256(1)(m) of the Education Act to justify the removal of Bob’s children from in person learning.

Referring to that section of the Act in email communication, Hawkins claims that it is her duty “to refuse to admit to the school or classroom a person whose presence in the school or classroom would in the principal’s judgment be detrimental to the physical or mental well-being of the pupils.”

Hawkins was supposed to contact Bob to provide adequate learning support, but that never happened. That same letter noted that Bob could appeal this decision, but provided no formal instruction on how to do so.

Bob wrote principal Hawkins and superintendent Laina Andrews with his appeal. Andrews responded that she would contact Bob to discuss prior to the Christmas break. That too, never happened.

School board bureaucrats have enjoyed their cushy comfortable holidays while parents like Bob are left scrambling in the dark, uncertain as to what the future of schooling looks like for their family in a mere few weeks.

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