The majority of Alberta’s K to 12 students will be wearing face masks come September.
The Province of Alberta announced a readjustment to its back-to-school strategy on Monday, August 4, adding on mandatory face masks for those in grades 4 through 12, as well as school staff.
Mask use remains optional for those in kindergarten to grade 3, due to difficulty in ensuring young children fit their masks and wear them properly, according to a release from the province.
Those who are unable to wear a mask due to medical conditions or other needs will also be exempt, the release states.
“After reviewing the emerging evidence, it is clear that masks can play an important role in limiting the spread of COVID-19,” said Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, in the release.
“I am not making this updated recommendation lightly, but acting on the best current evidence available. While masks are important, I want to stress that they are only one of the many public health measures in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of students, staff, and families.”
Those who do fall under the mandatory mask rules will need to have their mouths and noses covered whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained, including in hallways, on buses, and in other shared common areas.
Each student will receive two reusable masks, while there will also be disposable masks on hand if required.
Each school will also receive face shields for school staff, hand sanitizer, and two thermometers.
“The safety of our staff and students continues to be my number 1 priority. Since cancelling in-person classes in March and developing our school re-entry plan, we have been clear that we would continue to adapt our guidelines as necessary based on current medical advice,” said Alberta’s Minister of Education, Adriana LaGrange, in the release.
“These new safety measures will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our schools, and we will continue to work with our school authorities to ensure they are equipped for a successful start to the school year.”
Full details regarding the Province of Alberta’s back-to-school plan can be found at its website.