WINDSOR, ONT. -- Elementary and secondary school staff will be required to wear both face masks and shields in Windsor-Essex Catholic and public schools.

The Greater Essex County District School Board issued a memo to school staff on Thursday.

“Effective Friday March 12, 2021, it is mandatory that all elementary and secondary school staff wear a board provided mask and face shield while working indoors in school, including in hallways and during classes,” said the memo. “This also includes mandatory masking and face shield while outdoors unless physical distance of two metres can be maintained at all times.”

The same protocols will go into effect on Monday, March 15 for the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board.

The GECDSB said staff may take off their mask and face shield when working in an area with four walls, a door, and where no other people are present. Goggles may be available as an alternative to face shields specifically for culinary arts programing due to potential associated hazards, or approved accommodations through our Human Resources Department.

“All staff are required to put their masks on when entering school property and not just when they enter the building, and to wear them as prescribed. This includes being masked while using washrooms,” said the board. "In line with the Windsor Essex County Health Unit direction, we will not accept face shields in place of masks. All staff medical masks have to cover the nose and mouth."

Double masking is not recommended by the local Health Unit. Staff and students should only wear one board issued mask at all times.

For staff at other GECDSB sites, staff members with no students are strongly encouraged to wear a face shield. The board said face shields will be allocated.

On March 3, 2021, Windsor-Essex medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed recommended that school staff wear approved eye protection in addition to masks.

“The risk of COVID-19 spread increases with close contact,” said a statement from Ahmed. “While physical distancing should be maintained when feasible, school staff are often within 2 metres of each other and their students due to the nature of their work. The consistent and appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is a key component of determining exposure and reducing risk when physical distancing is not possible. As such, I am recommending at all times staff and visitors wear at a minimum: medical mask; and approved eye protection.”