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'A kick in the gut': Anti-mask flyers target teachers for 'crimes against humanity'

Last Updated Mar 25, 2021 at 11:02 am EDT

A Mississauga school teacher says it felt like a “kick in the gut” when she took her class out into the yard at St. Teresa of Avila Separate School in Meadowvale on Monday and found a flyer accusing her of engaging in “child torture” for adhering to the province’s COVID-19 rules surrounding masks in schools.

The flyer also compared teachers’ compliance to the Nuremberg trials of Nazi Germany.

The teacher, who didn’t want to be named, said the principal and a custodian quickly removed the flyer from a schoolyard gate, and later found more posted around the school.

“The narrative blames teachers for the conditions in schools, although we are powerless,” she said of the flyers. “The Ministry and Boards tell us what to do and we do it.”

“The morale (among teachers) is down and this was just a kick in the gut,” she added. “Believe me, I wish conditions were better and kids didn’t have to wear masks. Calling us child abusers and saying we are as complicit as those who participated in the Nuremberg trials is really demoralizing and unacceptable.”

The flyer contains an internet URL that leads to a site that hosts links to several stories and studies questioning the effectiveness and safety of masks for children.

The teacher says their anger is misdirected.

“It’s been a tough year … we’ve had so many changes and we’ve really pivoted to what the Board and the Ministry have wanted effectively and with a smile on our face for our kids, even though we cry at home. So to go out and find something like that, this is just another hit.”

“Calling us child abusers and saying we are as complicit as those who participated in the Nuremberg trials is really demoralizing and unacceptable”

Peel regional police say they are aware of the situation, but aren’t currently investigating.

“It does not appear to be criminal in nature as there (is) no threat to harm anyone,” said Peel Const. Danny Marttini.

But Const. Marttini added that schools could potentially pursue trespassing charges. “Any trespassing issue would be dealt with by the school and police could be contacted if a person fails to leave the property.”

The teacher says several other schools in Peel Region have also been targeted, and residents across the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area are taking to social media to bring attention to the issue.

“A couple of us posted it on our Twitter accounts, then we realized there were other teachers … in the Peel Region, (who were) were posting that they came out to their cars and (the flyers) were all over their cars.”

“My understanding is that a bunch of schools have been targeted.”

A Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board spokesperson said the flyer campaign is an added stress to teachers during an already trying time.

“This is very disheartening for our staff who find these on their cars given the stressful environment that all those working in the education sector must navigate every day,” said the Board’s Bruce Campbell.

Campbell says the group behind the flyer campaign also staged a protest outside the Board’s office, which was later posted to YouTube.

“With the respect to the video, this was a planned protest that took place outside the Board office yesterday (Tuesday),” Campbell confirmed. “Police were present throughout the period the protest took place.”

Campbell says the Board has “requested staff and administrators to be vigilant and to report any individuals observed placing these flyers on vehicles.”

Meanwhile, the teacher from St. Teresa of Avila says educators are simply doing their best to navigate the uncharted waters of the pandemic.

“We are going in, we are making the best of a bad situation, we’re trying to protect ourselves and the children and yet we are hit from every angle.”

When asked what she would say to the people behind the flyer campaign, she replied: “I would say that you have a choice whether to send your kid to school or not. If you’re not comfortable with the protocols, then keep your kid at home.”