The new academic year is around the corner with schools reopening soon, but this year will be different from others. To start the 2020 school year, students and staff members will all be wearing face masks for most of their day. They’ll all also need to carry additional face masks with them, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it’s time to make the transition back to everyday life while keeping each other safe. People are starting to return to their jobs, and schools are slowly beginning to reopen as well. However, if treated too carelessly, COVID-19 could spread more quickly.
As a result of the ongoing risk, any businesses or institutions reopening again will be enforcing strict operational protocols. While adapting to these new rules may be uncomfortable for some of us, it is essential to help reduce further spreading of the virus.
Schools are no different. Since they are home to hundreds of staff and thousands of students every day, they are at higher risk of hosting an outbreak of the virus if people are not careful. Thanks to the actions of the government and local school boards, schools that are reopening have strict mask requirements and other protective protocols.
In the area of Great Vancouver, each school district is enforcing rules regarding face masks for students. The details of these school mask requirements of Great Vancouver are given below. Find your City below!
The Board of Education passed a motion (August 19, 2020) encouraging the wearing of non-medical face masks by all students and staff at all times while in school.
- Every student and staff member will be given masks when they return to school.
- Students and staff will have the choice to wear a mask in the classroom.
- Secondary students will wear masks while in high traffic areas, like hallways, and any time they are outside of the classroom or learning group and they cannot physically distance from others.
- Students in Grades 6 and 7 will wear masks while in high traffic areas like hallways or when outside of their learning group.
- Staff in both elementary and secondary schools will wear masks while in high traffic areas, like hallways, and any time they are outside of the classroom or learning group and they cannot physically distance from others
When you need to ware masks
- Non-medical masks are required to be used in situations where a person cannot maintain physical distance and is in close proximity to a person outside of their cohort or household .
- Secondary students and staffs are required to wear non-medical masks in high traffic areas such as buses and in common areas, such as hallways or anytime outside of their learning group whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- Itinerant teachers and specialists interacting with multiple learning groups are required to wear a non-medical mask .
Other policies about masks
- Wearing a non-medical mask or face covering in schools, outside of the requirements above, is a personal choice. It is important to treat people wearing masks with respect.
- No student needs to wear a non-medical mask if they do not tolerate it.
- Those that choose to wear non-medical masks must still seek to maintain physical distance from people outside of their cohort. There must be no crowding, gathering or congregating of people from different cohorts, or those practicing physical distancing, even if non-medical masks are worn.
- Schools will consider requesting students and staff have a non-medical mask or face covering available at school and accessible should they become ill while at school.
- Wearing non-medical masks at all times in schools is not recommended as there are multiple more effective infection prevention and exposure control measures in place.
- Non-medical masks or face coverings are required to be worn by staff and middle and secondary students in high traffic areas, in common areas (e.g. hallways) or in situations where physical distancing cannot be maintained and the person is interacting with people outside of their learning group (e.g. Teachers Teaching on Call , specialist teachers or Education Assistants required to work in close proximity to students across learning groups).
- Exceptions will be made for students who cannot wear masks for medical reasons.
- Schools will also ensure non-medicla masks are available for staff if someone should become ill while at school.
- Beyond the above, wearing a non-medical mask or face covering in schools is a personal choice what will be respected. Re-usable face masks will be made available for staff and students who choose to wear one, and upon request.
More detailed information about school reopening COVID-19 safety plan in North Vancouver: https://www.sd44.ca/COVID-19/BacktoSchoolSeptember2020FAQs/Pages/default.aspx#/=
Non-medical masks are not recommended for elementary school students due to the increased likelihood they will touch their faces and eyes, as well as require assistance to properly put on and take off their mask. Masks will be provided upon request of parent/guardian.
Non-medical masks or face coverings are required for all middle and secondary staff and students when they are indoors in high traffic areas; e.g., hallways, common areas, etc., and anytime they are outside of their classroom or Learning Group and physical distance cannot be maintained.
Staff are required to wear a non-medical mask/face covering in high traffic areas and in common areas such as hallways and anytime outside of their Learning Group. Staff can also wear a mask/face covering within their classroom or Learning Group if that is their personal preference.
Staff (Other- Itinerant, Specialist, EAs, etc.)
Staff who routinely interact with more than one Learning Group must practice physical distancing and wear a non-medical mask at all times. Staff providing health care services and other health care providers are required to wear a mask when working in close proximity with students.
- Medical grade masks (i.e., N95) are only recommended for health care workers and other related professions. Good hand hygiene and sanitization practices are recommended and are the most effective prevention strategy.
- A supply of reusable masks (max 2 per school year) will be available for staff.
- Individual decisions by staff are respected where an acceptable explanation is provided to their supervisor. In certain circumstances, a staff member’s medical conditions may make the wearing of a mask inadvisable.
- Where the wearing of a mask demonstrably impacts the delivery of an educational service (e.g., speech pathology services or certain specialized services), a location may require adaption by the installation (permanently or temporarily) of shielding (e.g., plexiglass) as a transmission barrier. The site administrator is responsible for consulting with the staff member on such a need/request.
- Masks on young children can be irritating and may lead to increased touching of the face and eyes and will not generally be encouraged.
More detailed information about school reopening COVID-19 safety plan in New Westminter: https://newwestschools.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/COVID19-HS-PLAN-version-1.5-Aug19-2020-002.pdf
Masks are required for staff and students (Grades 6-12) in high traffic areas such as hallways or when outside learning groups.
More information about school COVID-19 guildline in Burnaby: https://burnabyschools.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/HealthAndSafety_Fall2020_InfoPage_20.08.26_web_final.pdf
- Every student and staff member will receive two reusable masks when they return to school.
- Any student or staff member may choose to wear a mask at any time.
- All staff and secondary students will be required to wear masks while in high traffic areas such as hallways or when outside of their learning group.
More information about Richmond schools Health and Safety for COVID-19: https://www.sd38.bc.ca/sites/default/files/2020-08/Fact%20Sheet%20-%20Health%20and%20Safety.pdf
For Middle Students
Middle schools will operate on the same model as elementary schools around learning groups/cohorts, protocols and procedures. Face masks for students and staff will be made available and, though their use is optional, the use of masks in areas of the school where physical distancing is difficult to maintain such as hallways and common areas will be strongly recommended. Exploration classes will be offered in a modified format.
For Secondary Students
Face masks for students and staff will be made available and, though their use is optional, the use of masks in areas of the school where physical distancing is difficult to maintain such as hallways and common areas will be strongly recommended.
More Info about Return to School Guidelines in Coquitlam: https://www.sd43.bc.ca/Pages/newsitem.aspx?ItemID=527&ListID=ed550773-e9ff-4e20-9964-4e1b213f518c&TemplateID=Announcement_Item#/=
Elementary School: Masks available for students who would like to wear one;
Secondary School: Masks required in all high traffic areas such as buses and in common areas such as hallways when physical distancing cannot be maintained
Surrey Schools’ Guideline: https://www.surreyschools.ca/NewsEvents/Posts/Lists/Photos/SSC_BackToSchool_Elementary_FINAL.pdf
- Masks will be required for staff and secondary students in high traffic areas in common areas such as hallways, or anytime outside of their learning group whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained. Exceptions will be made for students who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons.
- Schools will ensure non-medical masks are available for staff and students.
- The decision to wear a mask in the classroom is a personal one that will be respected.
More information about Delta School Stage 2: Health and Safety Measures: https://www.deltasd.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2020/08/Stage-2-Health-and-Safety-Measures-V2.pdf
School Supplies: Two (2) non-medical masks will be made available to each staff member and student from Grades 4- 12. Schools will be communicating information regarding the distribution of masks.
For Staff: Staff are required to wear a non-medical mask in high traffic areas such as buses or hallways, or anytime outside of their learning group, whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained. Staff can also wear a mask or face shield within their classroom or learning group if that is their personal preference.
For Students: Students in middle and secondary school are required to wear non-medical masks in high traffic areas such as buses or hallways, or anytime outside of their learning group whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained; exceptions will be made for students who cannot wear masks for medical reasons. Even when wearing a mask, staff and students will still be required to maintain physical distance from people outside of their learning group.
- Students will have the choice to wear a mask in the classroom
- Staff will have the choice to wear a mask when interacting within their learning group
- Everyone must treat each other and those wearing masks with respect
- Elementary school students (K-3) are not required to wear masks
More Langley school Phase 2 Education Restart Plan: https://www.sd35.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2020/08/Education-Restart-Plan-2020Aug26-Final.pdf
Enforcing rules like these is never easy, especially when it comes to large groups and vulnerable populations. Some individuals even contest the mandatory mask rules. However, provinces and school boards have deemed them necessary for a reason: they lower the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
While schools transitioned to the digital sphere for the last semester, the world must slowly learn to live with this virus as it may stay with us for years. The first step in adapting to this new reality is the introduction of school mask requirements.