Toronto students told not to speak during lunch to reduce the spread of COVID-19


Parents of elementary school children in Toronto are expressing concern after their children were asked not to speak during lunch in an effort to curb transmission of COVID-19.

Teresa Ostrom told CTV News Toronto on Friday that her child, who attends Alvin Curling Public School in Scarborough, has been asked not to speak during the period in which they are unmasked and eating lunch.

While the health and safety measure is meant to minimize aerosol transmission the virus, some parents are concerned that the time, usually meant for socialization, is being replaced with screen time. 

She says she didn't find out about the policy until she had a chance to meet her child’s teacher face-to-face.

“My kid had never mentioned it, so I was actually shocked,” Ostrom said. “We were told that the kids were not permitted to speak while eating lunch because they remove their masks to eat.”

Ostrom said she worries about her child’s ability to socialize.

“I just felt so sad for the kids,” she said. “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.”

When reached for comment, the Toronto District School Board’s spokesperson, Ryan Bird, told CTV News Toronto that, “based on the advice of Toronto Public Health, we have required lunches to be brief and quiet.”

He says this guidance has been in place since September 2020.