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Calgary school boards mandate masks for all students, staff

FILE - Packages of face masks on April 29, 2020. CITYNEWS/Tony Fera

Calgary students from K to 12 will be required to wear face masks in schools: Calgary Board of Education

School staff members will also be required to wear face masks or coverings

B.C. has not made masks a requirement in its back-to-school plan

CALGARY – Calgary is taking a different approach to masks in schools than the B.C. government is amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) has announced all students and staff will be required to wear face coverings come the start of classes.

The Catholic School Board in Calgary is also requiring students and staff wear masks when the school year begins.

This move is in contrast to what the B.C. government has planned for its back-to-school plan, which does not include a mask requirement, despite growing calls for that to be the case.

Calgary’s mandate means masks will be required inside classrooms as well as public spaces, like hallways and bathrooms. Masks will also be required for everyone on a school bus or using Calgary Transit.

The CBE said it is working on guidelines to support students and staff who are unable to wear a mask due to medical conditions or other needs. The Calgary school board said plans for all school buildings will be posted on their websites by the end of August, once principals have confirmed details with their staff.

Every school will be provided with a kit that includes a number of items to help support physical distancing, such as acrylic barriers, floor decals, painters tape and posters.

Last month, the Alberta government announced all students and staff from Grades 4 to 12 would be required to wear a mask while in shared spaces.

B.C. unveiled its return-to-school plan this week, noting students are expected to be back in class by Sept. 10, with the first couple of days set aside for orientation. The plan includes some measures to address COVID-19 concerns, however, many parents have said they don’t go far enough and that direction is too vague.

Earlier this week, a Richmond high school student launched a petition calling for masks and face coverings to be made mandatory in schools, citing concerns for immunocompromised students, their families, and staff.

Meanwhile, new federal guidelines for grade school environments suggest kids and youth over 10 should be wearing masks indoors and when distancing isn’t possible.