fbpx
Wednesday , 30 September 2020

Masks mandatory for Grade 4-12 students, staff when school returns

The provincial government announced Tuesday that masks will be mandatory for Grade 4-12 students and all school staff when classes resume.

Mask use for kindergarten to Grade 3 students will continue to be optional.

This comes as the provincial government eyes returning to in-person classes in a few weeks time for the 2020-21 school year.

Mask use will be mandatory for staff and teachers in all settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Students will be required to wear them in all shared and common areas such as hallways and on buses. Exemptions will be made for students and staff who are unable to wear a mask due to medical or other needs.

All staff, all students and staff in public, separate, Francophone, charter and independent schools will receive two reusable masks from Alberta’s government.

More than 1.6 million masks will be distributed to 740,000 students and 90,000 staff. Additional single-use masks will be available at schools, if required.

Schools will implement a number of public health measures, which include frequent cleaning of surfaces, placing hand sanitizers at school entrances and classrooms, grouping students in cohorts, and planning the school day to allow for physical distancing, which could include staggering start times for classes, recesses and lunches.

In addition, students, staff, parents and school visitors will be expected to use a self-screening questionnaire daily to determine whether they can enter the school.

Face shields

School staff will receive one reusable face shield for their use in the schools. Shield use is at the discretion of the individual staff member. Plastic face shields can help reduce exposure but are not equivalent to masks. A mask must still be worn while wearing a face shield.

Hand sanitizer

About 466,000 litres of hand sanitizer will be distributed between all school authorities based on student population.

Thermometers

Each school will receive two contactless thermometers to assist with managing student and staff health. Thermometer use will be at the discretion of the school authority.

Staff testing

Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services are working hard to expand testing capacity and reduce turnaround times for testing, including in-school staff, teachers and students, so that anyone with symptoms or close contacts of cases can be rapidly tested and receive test results promptly.

All supplies will be distributed to school authorities by the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. Authorities will then distribute to individual schools, staff and/or students based on the needs of their own communities.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connect Media. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.