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Letter to Parents: Updated provincial health orders for schools

April 06, 2021

​April 1, 2021

Dear parents/guardians,

We hope this message finds you well and that the break has been a positive one for your family. With a return to school next week, I wanted to ensure you have been updated with some new mask protocols at schools.

You are likely aware that British Columbia has been experiencing higher numbers of COVID-19 cases. In an effort to help break the chain of increased COVID-19 infections in the province, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced new provincial public health restrictions. Included in the announcement were new guidelines for mask wearing for students in grades 4 to 12. Yesterday evening the Ministry of Education issued clear direction for the use of masks for ALL students in the updated Provincial COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings.

Effective April 1, all K-12 staff and all students in grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear non-medical masks in all indoor areas, including when they are at their work stations (desks/tables), and on school buses - both within and outside of their learning group. This order will also extend to students in lower grades that share a class with grade 4 students (i.e. split classes with grade 4 students).

Exceptions include:
  • A person who is unable to wear a mask because they do not tolerate it (for health or behavioural reasons);
  • A person unable to put on or remove a mask without the assistance of another person;
  • If the mask is removed temporarily for the 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. actively playing a wind instrument, high-intensity physical activity, etc.);
  • If a 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 expressions and/or lip reading/movements are important.
Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 are strongly encouraged to wear a mask indoors, in schools and on school buses – both within and outside of their learning group – though mask wearing ultimately remains a personal or family/caregiver choice for these students, their choices must be respected.

In order to be in compliance with the health order we ask that you send your child to school in a clean mask that they are used to wearing. Schools will have additional masks available for free at the office.

The Ministry of Education has put this order in place indefinitely and will be working with Public Health up to and after April 19 to determine if further changes are required for health and safety reasons.

Those wearing masks must still maintain physical distancing whenever possible and there must be no crowding or congregating of people, even if masks are worn.

We are confident that this additional layer of protection will further enhance the measures we currently have in place to keep staff and students safe at school.

As always, perform daily health checks and stay home if you are sick, keep your distance, practice good hand hygiene and wear a mask.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jeremy Morrow
Superintendent of Schools