Students in Toronto told not to speak during lunch to curb spread of COVID-19

Parents of elementary school children at Alvin Curling Public School in Scarborough in Toronto, Ontario, Canada are speaking out after their children were told not to speak during lunch out of fear it would lead to the spread of COVID-19.

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One parent, Teresa Ostrom, told CTV News Toronto that her child was told not to speak during lunch period, but that she was unaware of the policy until she had a chance to meet with her child’s teacher in person. 

“We were told that the kids were not permitted to speak while eating lunch because they remove their masks to eat.”, the parent told CTV News Toronto.

Parents in the district are concerned that these policies may affect children’s ability to socialize.

Ostrom said that she “felt so sad for the kids,” since “they’ve missed out on so much and especially so much unstructured socialization, which is what chatting with friends during lunch is, so it just seemed like one more thing taken away from them.”

In response to this policy, spokesperson Ryan Bird from the Toronto District School Board told CTV News that the policy is “based on the advice of Toronto Health”. 

“By keeping talking to a minimum while eating and while masks are off, we are reducing the possibility of spread of COVID-19,”

Bird also added that this guidance has been in place since September 2020. 

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