Last evening, the Ministry of Education issued updated health and safety guidelines for all K-12 schools in the province (Provincial COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings). One of the key updates included a change to requirements with regard to mask wearing in schools.
All staff, students in Grades 4 to 12, and visitors are now required to wear a face mask while indoors in schools and on school buses. Students in kindergarten to Grade 3 are encouraged to wear a mask indoors in schools and on school buses.
- when an individual cannot tolerate wearing a mask for health or behavioural reasons;
- if the individual is unable to put on or remove a mask without the assistance of another person;
- if the mask is removed temporarily for purposes of identifying the person wearing it;
- if the mask is removed temporarily to engage in an educational activity that cannot be performed while wearing a mask (e.g. playing a wind instrument, engaging in high-intensity physical activity, etc.);
- if the person is eating or drinking;
- if a person is behind a barrier;
- while providing a service to a person with a disability or diverse ability (including but not limited to a hearing impairment) where visual cues, facial expression and/or lip reading/movements are important.
Staff or students who cannot wear a mask for any of the reasons noted above are not required to provide the school with a healthcare provider note (e.g. a doctor’s note) to confirm they cannot wear a mask. Students and staff will be able to remove their masks while outside, including at recess, lunchtime and while learning outside. As the weather improves, teachers will continue to look for opportunities to move their classes outdoors.
Staff will be supporting student mask wearing through positive and inclusive approaches. In addition, staff will work with students to foster proper mask usage including how to wear, take off and store masks. Staff and students in the District received two reusable masks at the start of the school year and an additional two reusable masks prior to spring break. Schools will have a supply of disposable masks available for students and staff who forget to bring their mask to school. Please click the following links for a video and poster containing reminders of how to wear a face mask.
All schools in the District continue to implement all layers of protection as advised by health officials to limit the spread of COVID-19. While mask use is an important layer of protection, it does not replace other measures like staying home when sick or required to self-isolate, completing the daily health check, maximizing physical distancing and proper hand hygiene. Following spring break, all schools and District sites are reviewing COVID-19 health and safety protocols and procedures, which have helped to keep students and staff safe.
The health and safety of students, staff and families continues to be the top priority of Vancouver schools. We greatly appreciate the ongoing support and patience of staff and families as we work through this together.