Calgary school boards mandate masks for K-12 students, differ on classroom use rules
CALGARY -- Calgary's public and separate school boards have expanded mandatory mask use outside of the province's recommendation and will require students in kindergarten through Grade 3 to also wear face coverings. The two boards have adopted differing rules when it comes to mask use in the classroom.
The provincial government had recommended that only students in Grades 4 and higher be required to wear masks in areas where physical distancing measures could not be observed.
The Calgary Board of Education's decision was announced in a letter from Christopher Usih, chief superintendent of schools for the Calgary Board of Education (CBE), that was sent to parents and guardians Friday morning.
For the 2020-21 school year, the CBE will require all staff and students (kindergarten to Grade 12) to wear a mask at school. This includes classrooms and public spaces such as hallways, learning commons, bathrooms, etc. Masks are also required for staff and students travelling on Calgary Transit or a yellow school bus.
We are working on mask guidelines including support for students and staff who are unable to wear a mask due to medical conditions or other needs. When staff and students take breaks from wearing a mask, it will be important for other measures to be adhered to like physical distancing, hand hygiene, and sanitizing surfaces.
The province will provide all students and staff with two reusable cloth masks but families may want to purchase additional ones. If students forget their mask, schools will have some disposable ones available.
According to Usih, school-specific re-entry plans will be posted on the websites of the individual schools by the end of August. Videos will be posted on the CBE website to outline the additional protection measures and adjustments students will encounter .
Usih says the CBE plans to hire an additional 240 temporary, full-time equivalent custodians to assist with the cleaning requirements of the board's schools. The new workers are expected to be on the job by the first day of school.
Dr. Bryan Szumlas, chief superintendent of the Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD), announced that the CCSD would also require masks be worn by students in kindergarten through Grade 12 in a letter sent to parents and guardians Thursday morning.
When returning to school, all students (K-12) and staff will be expected to wear a mask (exceptions are outlined in the Resumption Handbook). Reusable masks will be provided to each of our staff and students upon returning to school. We encourage all parents to have their children practice safe use of masks.
Students in CBE classrooms will need to wear masks at all times while CCSD students will be permitted to remove their masks in class.
"Masks will be required in classrooms at all times," explained CBE spokseperson Megan Geyer in a statement to CTV News. "We will have mask guidelines including support for students and staff who are unable to wear a mask due to medical condtions or other needs. When staff and students take breaks from wearing a mask, it will be important for other measures to be adhered to like physical distancing, hand hygiene and sanitizing surfaces."
"Children will not be required to wear masks while sitting at their desks and when they are with their cohort," said Sandra Borowski, CCSD spokesperson, in a statement to CTV News.