LONDON, ONT -- The Thames Valley District School Board has passed a motion making masks mandatory for Junior Kindergarten to Grade 3 students while they are in school and on buses.

But the board acknowledges the COVID-19 measure is not enforceable and students without a mask will not be punished.

The board received legal advice that the motion can not limit a child’s access to education.

“This comes down to strong moral suasion,” explained Trustee Corrine Rahman. “The community is asking so strongly for this.”

TVDSB was already ‘strongly encouraging’ that masks be worn by students in all grades.

Trustees lamented the public board is unable to keep students safely distanced in schools and on buses during the 2020/21 school year.

Trustee Lori-Ann Pizzolato said the expanded mask policy provides “an additional measure of protection.”

Several trustees expressed frustration that there are inconsistent recommendations on minimum masking ages among the health units within the board’s boundaries.

Students with medical conditions will not be required to wear masks.

Board members emphasized there will be many unmasking breaks for its youngest students.

The province already requires masks for students in grade 4 and above.