TVDSB trustees to vote on masking rules at special meeting File Photo of the Thames Valley District School Board office.

Mandatory masking may yet return to the Thames Valley District School Board.

Trustees are set to meet on Tuesday evening to discuss the possibility of reinstating mandatory masking rules at TVDSB schools.

The discussion has been prompted by widespread staff and student absences at the board, and the belief is that many of those absences are due to COVID-19.

“The masking mandate is an opportunity for the board to look at some potential risk mitigation strategies to help address the absenteeism, when it comes to COVID-19” said trustee Corrine Rahman, who brought the motion forward. “As a trustee, I personally feel I have a strong obligation to protect the wellbeing of students and staff.”

“When I put this motion forward, I was thinking about wellbeing,” she added.

The masking mandate at the board expired on March 21st – the same day it did in most other indoor spaces in the province.

As the sixth wave continues in Ontario, the board has seen hundreds of teacher unable to attend classes due to getting or being exposed to COVID-19.

Rahman said they were also “seeking the input from public health partners,” and that the return of mandatory masking would only be a “temporary measure.”

“Some people, they’re done with masks, and I understand that. I can relate to that feeling,” Rahman said. “This isn’t to be a long term solution.”

This isn’t the first time the board has had this discussion. A week ago, the board voted to not move the discussion forward, as trustees received advice from public health authorities in Middlsex-London, as well as Oxford and Elgin counties.

However, Rahman is hoping they reconsider at the special meeting Tuesday evening.

Two schools have already had to be closed to in person learning due to lack of available staff.

“Some schools will see some closures from the absentee rates. That’s something we should look at and talk about,” Rahman said.