ATHABASCA — A change to the provincial masking mandate has prompted a swift review of masking in schools.
Following a special meeting of the board of trustees Sept. 7, Aspen View Public Schools (AVPS) issued a statement saying masks will be required for all people – students, staff, and the public – while using indoor common spaces at schools including hallways, school offices, public washrooms and more starting Sept. 8.
“We see this temporary measure as a balanced approach to mask wearing,” said AVPS board of trustees chair Candy Nikipelo.
She added after the past 18-months of living in a pandemic world, AVPS wants to reduce the risk of students or staff becoming ill or of needing to close a school.
“We need to mitigate the risk of having to close schools, or having students miss school due to COVID-19,” she said. “We’d rather overprotect students and staff than put them at risk.”
Masks will not be required while students are seated and facing the same direction, but may be required at the discretion of the teacher if there is group work or students will be moving around.
Masks will not be needed outside and masking on busses remains mandated as it was before the Sept. 3 announcement by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney that masking will be required across the province in all public areas and liquor stores and establishments serving alcohol must stop sales at 10 p.m. Everyone is also discouraged from large gatherings and to remain working from home.
“We’re not masking students from the time they get on the bus in the morning, to the time they get off the bus at the end of the day,” said AVPS Supt. Neil O’Shea. “While we continue to strongly encourage mask-wearing, our expectation is that in most learning situations, masks will not be mandatory.”
AVPS will review the masking protocols if the provincial mandate is revised or revoked.