BCTF renewing calls for mandatory masks inside classrooms

Masks will be required in all BC classrooms starting on Wednesday. Getty Images

The BC Teachers’ Federation is once again pushing for mandatory masks in classrooms, now that the federal government has identified airborne particles are a risk of COVID-19 transmission.

President, Teri Mooring has been pushing for mandatory masks for everyone over the age of 10 any time they’re on school grounds since August.

On Friday, Canadian health officials officially recognized that COVID-19 can spread through tiny droplets known as aerosols that can linger in the air.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Tam provides information on COVID-19 aerosol transmission'
Coronavirus: Tam provides information on COVID-19 aerosol transmission

Mooring says with the new information, her case for mandatory masks in classrooms is stronger.

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

“We’re looking for changes, and among the changes we’re looking for is to make masks mandatory in schools.”

Currently, masks are mandatory in secondary and middle school common areas such as hallways and buses.

They’re also mandatory any time staff or students are away from their learning groups, and can’t maintain a physical distance.

Mooring wonders why the Provincial Health Officer is recommending masks be worn in public spaces, but not in classrooms.

Read more: Coronavirus: B.C. teachers’ union applies to Labour Relations Board over back-to-school concerns

“Why is it that schools seem excluded from the other recommendations and requirements in other settings,” she said. “We don’t see a good reason for it, we do think that masks should be worn and [be] mandatory.”

“There’s been a refusal to even say masks are a good idea to be worn in schools. There’s been no indication from the Public Health Office.”

Last week, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters that 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.

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“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.

COVID-19 exposure events continue in schools across the region.

Mooring says the BCTF is encouraging teachers to wear masks at schools at all times, and to create an environment where students want to wear their masks too.

Global News has reached out to BC’s Ministry of Health for comment.

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