While the provincial face-covering mandate has been lifted across Alberta, some businesses, organizations, and institutions have the authority to require people to wear masks in their facilities, and two Calgary school boards are among them.
This week, both the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) and the Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) announced that they would be making masks mandatory this fall.
According to an August 18 notice on the Calgary Board of Education’s website, after considering increases in COVID-19 cases and the vaccination rates for youth aged 12 to 19 in Calgary, the CBE will require masking indoors for all staff and Kindergarten to Grade 12 students for the start of the 2021-22 school year.
The notice states that this decision will be reviewed before the end of September, and will consider any further direction from the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Alberta Education, and existing active case counts in the Calgary Zone.
The Calgary Catholic School District followed suit, with an updated version of their 2021-2022 School Resumption Handbook published on their website on August 20. The handbook states that the CCSD has determined that the wearing of masks will be required of all staff and students in Kindergarten to Grade 12.
“Principals and teachers have the authority to determine when masks may be removed for specific activities where other safety measures are in place, such as physical distancing or when students are working alone,” reads the handbook.
This follows an announcement from three large post-secondary institutions in Alberta stating that mask-wearing is required. The University of Alberta, University of Calgary, and University of Lethbridge have said that they won’t be requiring vaccines for students to attend classes at this time, however all three universities have mandatory indoor masking in place.
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At CBE schools, students, staff and families can expect the following health measures to be in place at all schools when classes resume:
- Students and staff will still be expected to use a daily checklist to identify if they should attend or stay home – students and staff who present with COVID-19 symptoms must stay at home until symptoms resolve
- Proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
- Enhanced cleaning and disinfection of high traffic/touch areas, and enhanced ventilation in schools
- Classroom cohorts in kindergarten to Grade 6
- No unscheduled visitors, volunteers, or external partners will be permitted in schools at the start of the school year
- Public use or rentals of school facilities outside of school hours will be limited until January 2022
Some health restrictions will be lifted at CBE schools, including:
- At the direction of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, schools will no longer inform close contacts of positive cases, but additional health measures may be implemented as the COVID-19 situation evolves or if outbreaks occur
- Lockers and change rooms can be used
- Band and sports activities can proceed
- Limited off-site activities will be allowed
- Schools can be occupied for evening and weekend school activities
CCSD schools will have the following key health measures in place, along with a daily health checklist and AHS’ online assessment tool.
- Health monitoring
- Hand-washing and respiratory etiquette
- Sanitizing and ventilation
- Mandatory wearing of masks
- Physical distancing (where possible)
The CCSD says that some health measures from the previous school year have been eased or removed altogether, including the isolation of close contacts, contact tracing, and communicating positive cases.
Classes at traditional calendar CBE schools begin on Wednesday, September 1, and “staggered entry days” begin at CCSD facilities on September 1, with the first day of regular classes falling on Tuesday, September 7.