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B.C. teachers frustrated over ‘lax’ mask policy in schools

Click to play video 'BCTF president says teachers aren’t happy face masks aren’t being made mandatory in classrooms' BCTF president says teachers aren’t happy face masks aren’t being made mandatory in classrooms
Teri Mooring, the head of the BCTF says B.C. teachers are concerned and confused about Dr. Bonnie Henry's latest expectations over face mask use, and why it isn't being extended to classrooms. Richard Zussman reports. – Oct 27, 2020

The BC Teachers’ Federation is frustrated the province is not tightening up rules when it comes to mask-wearing at schools.

This comes after provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Monday it is now the “expectation” that everyone wears non-medical masks in public spaces.

“When measures aren’t equally made more strict in schools it just doesn’t make sense to people,” BCTF President Teri Mooring said.

“It is becoming less easy to justify such a lax mask policy in schools. While we continue to see cases go up we are not seeing any additional measures that will help health and safety.”

Click to play video 'Health Matters: B.C. doctors applaud stronger stance on masks' Health Matters: B.C. doctors applaud stronger stance on masks
Health Matters: B.C. doctors applaud stronger stance on masks – Oct 28, 2020

Read more: BC Teachers’ Federation pushing for clearer mask policy, more remote learning options

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Students, teachers and staff are currently being asked to wear masks in high traffic areas like hallways and lunchrooms, but there is no provincial policy around wearing masks in classrooms.

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Two schools have recently closed in British Columbia due to an outbreak of the virus. Mount Cheam Christian School in Chilliwack has now closed, following Kelowna’s École de l’Anse-au-sable.

According to Henry, there have been 11 cases linked to École de l’Anse-au-sable.

Click to play video 'Education minister says masks to play ‘significant role’ in B.C. schools come September' Education minister says masks to play ‘significant role’ in B.C. schools come September
Education minister says masks to play ‘significant role’ in B.C. schools come September – Aug 10, 2020

Henry said many people are wearing masks in the school setting and offered a reminder for teachers and staff to follow the mask policy that does exist at all times.

“We do need to pay attention to staff, teachers, educators who are also either carpooling to work together, having breaks together, having meetings together — making sure we are wearing masks, that we are keeping safe distances,” Henry said.

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It’s those comments that are not sitting well with teachers or the teachers union. Mooring says there have been no complaints raised of teachers carpooling together and teachers are often eating in the classrooms now rather than together.

“There is a very high level of frustration right now among teachers and those things don’t help,” Mooring said. “That was a really unfortunate comment, teachers are not carpooling without masks, teachers are not meeting together in the break room.”

Click to play video 'Vancouver council votes to make masks “encouraged” but not mandatory' Vancouver council votes to make masks “encouraged” but not mandatory
Vancouver council votes to make masks “encouraged” but not mandatory – Oct 23, 2020

The province will not be enforcing the expectation masks be worn in public, indoor spaces.

Doctors of BC have been calling for more British Columbians to mask up when physical distancing is not possible.

“We all have a responsibility to protect not just ourselves, but those around us who are vulnerable,” Dr. Kathleen Ross, president of Doctors of BC, said.

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“We believe, and the evidence shows, that wearing masks is an important tool in our toolbox to help us stay safe. It is critically important to practise good hygiene and keep physical distance, but wearing masks adds another layer of defense.”