BC teachers encouraged to "create a culture of mask wearing" in classes

Oct 28 2020, 4:18 pm

The BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) is encouraging all teachers across the province to push for the use of face masks in classrooms.

On Tuesday, the organization addressed health officials in British Columbia “stepping up their recommendations and advice around wearing masks.”

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry explained that it was “now the expectation that people will wear a non-medical mask in public spaces.”

The BCTF pointed out, however, that “she did not change the standards” for schools across the province.

“Teachers, you do not have to wait for the PHO,” the Federation tweeted. “Many #bced schools now have full mask policies because the staff, Joint Health & Safety Committee, or Admin made it happen.”

“Physical distancing is not a reality in our classrooms, so we need to do what we can to protect ourselves.”

When asked about the effectiveness of the current school policies, Henry said that “the plan is working” and that COVID-19 cases are being detected early.

“We know that it’s circulating in the community,” she explained. “We know that there’s going to be, inevitably, people who, inadvertently, are in the school environment.”

Henry said that there are “provisions for masks in certain areas of the school,” noting that “it doesn’t change the way the school plans are designed” or how students should be wearing masks in the school setting.

“In terms of masks, there are provisions for masks in certain areas of the school,” she told reporters on Monday. “And it doesn’t change the way the school plans are designed and what they should be doing or how we should be wearing masks in the school setting.”

Currently, middle school and secondary school students are required to wear non-medical face masks while in high-traffic areas such as buses or hallways. They don’t need to wear a mask when they’re with their learning group, which is a group of up to 60 students and staff.

Elementary school students aren’t required to wear masks but can do so if they choose.

Henry noted that during late October, there were approximately 216 exposure events but “very few” transmission events where people passed it to another person in the school setting.

“I know that young people are adaptable and they’re wearing masks on a routine basis, whether they’re ordered to or not,” she says. “We need to continue that and continue the encouragement of that over the coming months.”

Vincent PlanaVincent Plana

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