COVID-19: Masks will not be required in Saskatchewan schools after current mandate expires

Students wear face masks as they attend class. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

As of March 1st, teachers, staff and students will not be required to wear masks in Saskatchewan schools.

This a result of the province announcing they will not renew their current indoor mask mandate.

Earlier this week, some Saskatchewan school divisions said they we’re seeking clarity with the provincial mask mandate coming to an end.

Read more: Reaction mixed after Saskatchewan announces plan to lift COVID-19 restrictions

They were wondering if future masking requirements could differ between school divisions and if that decision was up to their local medical health officials.

This was the case back in the fall of 2021. At the start of the school year, the province did not have an indoor mask mandate in place.

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Some school divisions took it upon themselves and implemented their own mask mandate at the request of their local medical health officials.

Eventually the province followed suit and brought back mandatory masking for all indoor public spaces.

Read more: Sask. NDP slams Moe’s messaging on border blockades as premier clarifies position

In a statement Thursday from the Ministry of Education, the government made it clear that across the province, masks will not be required in schools when the calendar turns.

The statement says, “The government of Saskatchewan expects school divisions to remove their requirements for mask mandates when the public health orders are rescinded. … schools may feel free to encourage mask use while respecting individual choices regarding masks based on one’s own risk assessment.”

Regarding the ministry’s statement, The Saskatchewan School Boards Association says, “We’ve now gotten clarity that this is a province-wide lifting of the health order and the ministry is asking to make our schools mask-friendly places rather than mask-required places.”

SABA president Shawn Davidson explained that in situations likes this, his members believe there is value in consistency between school divisions. However, they still feel that local decisions are best made by local officials.

Click to play video: 'Mixed reaction to reduced measures in Saskatchewan'
Mixed reaction to reduced measures in Saskatchewan

Teachers will also now have the freedom to be maskless at school.

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Saskatchewan Teachers Federation president Patrick Maze says its something that the majority of his members aren’t too excited about.

“Most of the emails I’ve received (from teachers) have been negative and have had concerns,” Maze said. “They perceive it as a reckless action not based on science or good health policy. But at the same point, some members will be happy they can stop enforcing masks.”

Maze added that mask-wearing will now be optional for teachers and students. He does have concerns for the students who choose to keep wearing masks, saying, “It could stigmatize those who choose to wear them as being too fearful or overly scared when in reality during a global pandemic its a measure that keeps everyone safe.”

Speaking with some students from Winston Knoll Collegiate in Regina, Global News asked if they will continue wearing masks and the responses varied.

One student said, “You lose nothing when wearing a mask, just wear a mask and you’re more safe from the virus.”

Another added, “I’ll probably end up wearing a mask cause I don’t want this to all happen again”

Two friends standing side by side spoke, with the first saying, “I don’t think I am going to wear one because I get asked like 10 times a day to put it up anyway”.

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Her friend replied, saying, “my brothers have diabetes so if I get it it’s tough for them. So wearing it would be the best for me”.

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