Dear parents and friends,

The Socrates-Demosthenes School family has been exemplary in respecting health measures and we are counting on everyone to continue to do so.

Following the announcement by the Minister of Education, Jean-François Roberge, and the last press conference by Prime Minister François Legault, the government of Quebec reiterated that all elementary school students must wear pediatric procedure masks as of March 8th in all schools in Quebec in red zones. These masks will be provided by the government and will be distributed daily in each classroom.

We realize that some parents have some reservations about their children wearing these masks, so we asked our school’s pandemic consultant, Dr Christos Karatzios, to provide details on students wearing procedural masks in elementary school. This, we repeat, will be imposed by public health authorities from next week.

Dr. Karatzios is a specialist in pediatric infectious disease at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. He is the main medical consultant of the Socrates-Demosthenes School. He sent us the letter below, after consulting and having the approval of his colleagues.

We would like to share it with you.

The Socrates-Demosthenes School

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Upon return from 2021 Spring Break, the Quebec government and Quebec Public Health have applied a mask mandate for all school children starting at age 5 years old in the province’s red zone (includes the Montreal Urban Community). A procedural 3-ply surgical mask should be worn by all children and their teachers/educators while in class, in the hallway, and on school premises (except for gym class).

This is beyond the control of the school administration. We understand that this is inconvenient for some parents and their children. We also understand that it might require a period of adjustment for some children.

We, the countersigned, are here to state the science and perhaps address some of your concerns with regards to the surgical face masks required:

Procedural masks are safe for children aged 2 years and over. This has been stated by the World Health Organization, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Canada, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, among many other professional medical societies.

Procedural masks do not cause a drop in oxygen levels.

Procedural masks do not cause a rise in carbon dioxide levels.

Procedural masks may be uncomfortable sometimes and this is acknowledged but they are not dangerous and most people get used to wearing one.

Procedural masks, if worn properly, are effective at preventing the spread of droplets and some aerosols from leaving a person’s mouth and nose.

Procedural masks are effective at protecting the wearer from droplets and some aerosols.

Children who receive chemotherapy have been wearing procedural masks for extended periods of time without problem for decades.

Children in Southeast Asia and Japan have been wearing procedural masks since SARS-1 on a regular basis and during this SARS-2 COVID-19 pandemic without problem.

Greece has had a mask mandate in elementary and high schools since the beginning of the school year without problem.

In order to prevent a third wave of SARS-2 (with the highly contagious mutant variants that are spreading through schools rapidly now), we ask for your cooperation and understanding.

Things will eventually get better but we all must pitch in and help in any way possible now that we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Your children are safe and we want them to continue to be safe.

Despite not having a government mask mandate before now, École Socrates-Démosthène has been mandating masks for children above 10 years of age, and has been strongly recommending masks for children aged 5-9 years since the fall of 2020. We have done well relative to other schools in the greater Montreal area and are confident that our pandemic measures have helped.

There is no clear general medical reason for a face mask exemption and this has been corroborated by the Canadian Thoracic Society as well as the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Procedural masks have not been associated with triggering asthma attacks or allergies and it is in fact recommended for asthmatics to wear masks as getting respiratory viruses may in fact trigger attacks.

Unless your child has an end-of-life lung disease, a severe neurodevelopmental condition that makes them not tolerate wearing a procedural mask, or has a facial deformity that makes it impossible to wear a procedural mask, there is no other indication for a mask-wearing exemption.

There has been a lot of misinformation online and on social media from anti-mask activists and this has created fear and confusion among some parents. Rest assured we want the best for our and your children.

Please let us continue to do well.

Thank you.

Christos Karatzios MD CM, FRCPC
Assistant Professor of Paediatric Infectious Diseases Pandemic
Consultant to the the HCGM’s École Socrates-Démosthène
 With the support of the following members of the Hellenic Medical Association of Quebec (HMAQ):

Dimitrios Kyritsis, MD, FRCPC
Dermatology, President of the HMAQ

Marietta Varvarikos, MD, CCFP(EM), FCFP
Emergency Medicine, Vice-President of the HMAQ

John Angelopoulos, MD, FRCPC
General Internal Medecine, Adult Critical Care Medecine
Chief of the Intensive Care Unit – MUHC Lachine
Executive Secretary of the HMAQ

Christopher Labos MD CM, MSc, FRCPC

E. Lila Amirali MD, MMgmt (IMHL), FRCPC, FAPA 
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Dimitrios Coutsinos, MD
Thoracic Surgery

Apostolos Christopoulos, MD
Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery

Alicia Lambrinakos-Raymond, MDCM, FRCPC, MSc

Aris Hadjinicolaou, MD, FRCPC, FAAP
Pediatric Neurology Fellow

Savoula Nickas, MDCM FRCPC
General Internal Medicine

Stella S. Daskalopoulou, MD, MSc, DIC, PhD
Internal Medicine / Vascular Medicine

Athanassios Karabatsos, MD, CSPQ, FRCP
Internal Medicine

Michael Tsoukas, MD CM, FRCPC
Internal Medicine

George Tsoukas, MD CM, FRCPC
Internal Medicine

Christos Tsoukas, MD CM, FRCPC

Panagiota Toliopoulos, MD, MSc, FRCPC
Internal Medicine

Thanasis Tsiodras, MD
Emergency Medicine

Chryssi Paraskevopoulos, MD
Emergency Medicine

Dorothy Antonatos, MD, CCFP
Family Medicine

Ekaterine Koutroularas, MD
Family Medicine

Nick Karellis, MD
Family Medicine

Polymnia Galatsiatos, MD, FRCPC

Gerry Polyhronopoulos, MD, FRCSC
General Surgery

Joanna Choremis, MD

John Antoniou MD, PhD, FRCSC
Orthopaedic Surgery

George Christodoulou, MD CM, FRCRC

Vayia Koufogianis, MD CM, FRCPC
Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Stephen Tsoukas, MD, FRCPC
Gastroenterology Fellow

Evangelos Tyrpenou, MD
Orthopaedic Surgery Fellow

Miltiadis Georgiopoulos, MD, PhD
Neurosurgery / Spine Surgery Fellow

Angela Stamiris, MD CM, MSc, BSc
Resident Physician PGY1, McGill University

Nicholas Koziris, MD CM 2021 Candidate
McGill University & Socrates II Graduate (2009)

Sotiris Psycharis, DMD Candidate ‘23
McGill University

Angela Karellis, MSc, PhD
Infectious Diseases, Scientific Affairs

Nicolas Liounis