VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – After the province mandated masks for middle and secondary students, some parents argue the order doesn’t go far enough.
Katie Clunn is a parent in Maple Ridge with two school-age children, who says she will continue with at-home learning for them, despite the new measures.
“I find it strange that kids who are ages 11, 12, 13 are not safe in a middle school, but the kids of the same age are considered safe in an elementary school. I don’t understand why the mask mandate wasn’t by age,” she tells NEWS 1130.
The new mask requirement announced Thursday does not apply to elementary students, for whom mask-wearing will remain a personal choice.
All teachers staff are required to wear masks inside schools and in learning groups.
But Clunn says all students should wear masks to protect the teachers too.
“We’ve been told so many times masks protect those around you, not the wearer.”
Clunn says all of her children, including her 18-month-old, wear masks when they’re outside the home. She doesn’t plan on sending her kids back to school until they are either vaccinated against COVID-19 or stronger measures are implemented in school.
Clunn argues provincial health officials aren’t giving kids enough credit when it comes to wearing their masks.
“There obviously will be the exception to the rule, and maybe they could wear shields or have Plexi-glass around desks. Hand-washing only is not enough,” she argues.
Despite her hesitation, Clunn says the measures are an improvement, but not by much.
“If we’re wanting to bend the curve, why not do more then scale it back?” she says.
Under the new requirements, masks can only be taken off when students and staff are sitting or standing at their seat or workstation in a classroom, if there is a barrier, or when they are eating or drinking.
Since students returned to the classroom in September, B.C. parents, as well as teachers and their union, have argued for stronger measures in schools. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry noted multiple times that the majority of COVID-19 transmission is not coming from schools.
Eighty-nine people in a Maple Ridge school community were tested for a contagious strain of COVID-19 this week after a close contact of someone with the strain contracted the virus. All the tests were negative for the variant.
-with files from Ashley Burr, Liza Yuzda, and Hana Mae Nassar