BC: Require masks in schools!

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With K-12 schools opening to in-class learning throughout British Columbia this September, we respectfully request that the province make non-medical masks a requirement, with reasonable exceptions. We are appreciative of the province’s efforts and guidance in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has produced good results. However, as summer progresses we are beginning to see an uptick in new cases. Also, there have been numerous reports from many places around the globe, in which large outbreaks have been correlated with school openings. Finally, in a poll conducted in mid-July – prior to the uptick in BC – 73% of BC parents preferred mandatory masks in schools.

We are fully aware that there should be exceptions to this blanket policy. Exceptions to mandatory masks might include (but are not limited to):

  • Students or staff who have medical conditions, documented individually by their personal physicians, for which wearing a mask is not recommended or is harmful;
  • Certain activities such as music classes, outdoor physical education, or lunch/snack breaks which would not be possible with masks, and where special distancing measures may be practiced.;
  • During certain “break” periods, ideally outdoors, such as recess, where students and staff can enjoy limited periods without their masks.

We realize there will be difficulties in implementing this requirement, as there are with any new, important measures. Having people wear masks will not at all eliminate the need for physical distancing, hand washing, general cleanliness and attention to health. However, classrooms and schools often have tens if not hundreds of rules and procedures which children learn and adapt to as a normal part of their education. Individual classes, schools and districts will need to design procedures which work best for them. We feel strongly, though, that wearing masks should be the norm in all indoor school settings. With the exponential nature of virus transmission, the health of British Columbians, and the economic health of the province, depends on this important step.