A special meeting of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) held Tuesday night to debate the return of mask mandates in schools turned into quite a tense situation.
The meeting was interrupted several times by protestors, police were called, and it all resulted in no decision being made as to whether mask mandates will make a return for Ottawa-area students.
"And we’ve recessed again. This is not civil," wrote Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth, an OCDSB trustee, on Twitter after the meeting was interrupted a second time by who she referred to as a "raucous crowd of anti-maskers."
Photos online showed the meeting room's viewing area was packed. One protestor even posted a video of the group loudly singing "O Canada" while the meeting had been put on pause.
Kaplan-Myrth's motion called for mask mandates to be brought back in the classroom starting November 23, 2022, citing "a significant increase in COVID-19 cases, influenza cases, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) cases," which she said "put the health and safety of educators and students in jeopardy."
Tuesday's meeting featured delegations from people in support and against her motion, but it was ultimately the protests that stole the show.
\u201cExecutive summary: A raucous crowd of anti-maskers yelled and disrupted our meeting repeatedly. Police were called twice. We had to adjourn because we ran out of time. To those who think that your disrespectful conduct is a \u201cwin,\u201d #Ottawa children who get sick are your victims.\u201d— Nili Kaplan-Myrth MD PhD (@Nili Kaplan-Myrth MD PhD) 1669175154
"We had to adjourn because we ran out of time," wrote Kaplan-Myrth in a series of tweets, recapping the events from the over four-hour meeting. "Disgusted that anti-maskers’ tactics prevailed."
In a tweet of its own, the OCDSB announced the meeting had ended for the evening shortly after 10:30 p.m.
"No decision has been taken on the motion regarding mask mandates," said the board. "Information about the possible continuation of this meeting will be shared as soon as it becomes available."
In a statement to Narcity, Ottawa Police confirmed they were called to Tuesday's meeting for reports of a disturbance.
"Several persons were asked to leave by OCDSB Board members; those asked to leave did so without any incident and no arrests were made," police said in their statement.
Dr. Yoni Freedhoff was watching Tuesday's meeting and took to Twitter in frustration as the Chief of Staff at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) was interrupted while she gave an update on the hospital's capacity issues.
"No, you don’t f***ing know better than @CHEO’s chief of staff," he wrote.
Talk of bringing mask mandates back in Ontario has been a big debate, as has the issue of public health officials following their own guidance.
Dr. Kieran Moore was recently spotted maskless at a Toronto party just days after "strongly recommending" all Ontarians wear masks indoors.
Currently, the OCDSB's guidance on masking falls in line with many other school boards across Ontario — strongly recommending but not requiring students to wear a mask in the classroom.