In response to Ontario’s virus surge, McMaster strongly encourages masking indoors
Amidst the surge of viral infections in Ontario, McMaster University reminds students of free masks on campus and encourages students to wear masks when indoors
On Nov. 14, Ontario’s chief medical officer, Kieran Moore, strongly urged Ontarians to wear masks in indoor public spaces and take other safety precautions, such as screening for symptoms and staying home when ill, to avoid spreading viruses.
“That means [wearing masks] on transit, at work, in schools and daycares, even at home if someone is sick,” said Moore in a press conference.
This recommendation from Moore comes amidst the massive surge of viral infections in Ontario and across the country, due to the convergence of RSV, influenza and COVID-19. This wave of illness has placed especially great strain on children’s healthcare, as unprecedented numbers of children have gotten sick and children’s hospitals have struggled to keep up.
At the McMaster Children’s Hospital, wait times for emergency services are advertised on the website as being longer than usual. As well, the hospital announced on Nov. 12 that it would transfer 16- and 17-year-old surgical patients needing to be admitted from the MCH to adult sites at Hamilton Health Sciences. Further, as per recommendations by the province, critically ill patients ages 14 and older are being transferred to other HHS sites as well, when medically appropriate.
In response to the increased number of viral infections this season, McMaster University released a statement on Nov. 15 reminding community members that they are strongly encouraged to wear masks and remain up to date on vaccinations for both COVID-19 and influenza. However, the university has not mandated that students wear masks anywhere on campus, with the exception of healthcare spaces.
“McMaster has been consistent in promoting the use of masks and continues to consult with our faculty experts for their insights and advice. They are recommending the university continue with its current directions to encourage the community to wear masks, especially in crowded settings,” said the university in their statement.
At the University of Western Ontario, masks are currently required in instructional spaces. Ontario Tech University currently requires masks in all university buildings. Many other Ontario schools, such as Queens University and Toronto Metropolitan University, do not have mask mandates in place but are instead strongly recommending that students wear masks indoors.
McMaster's statement also reminded students that the university is continuing to give out free masks at various locations on campus. Finally, it pointed students to resources for booking their flu shots and COVID-19 bivalent boosters.