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Fraser Health mandates masks for students from grades 4 to 12 in Surrey

Last Updated Mar 27, 2021 at 4:00 pm PDT

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SURREY (NEWS 1130) — Effective immediately, all staff K to 12 and all students in grades 4 to 12 are being ordered to wear masks in Surrey schools.

The announcement from Fraser Health marks a major policy shift as staff, students, and parents have been calling on the health authority to mandate masks for several months.

Surrey Teachers Association President Matt Westphal says they’re very pleased by the move.

“We’re very happy that Fraser Health has recognized the added risk that students and staff are facing in Surrey schools with very high and increasing numbers. So we think this is an excellent step that will help make schools more safe for the last three months of the school year,” he says.

Westphal says the mandate is an important step to help make staff feel safer at work.

“There may be some … parents who are opposed to requiring children to wear masks, and some students may resist that as well. And that’s why we think it’s so important that this be a rule [and] not just at the discretion of the teacher or even of the school.”

A notice from Surrey Superintendant Jordan Tinney also says masks are also being recommended for younger students — but not mandated before grade 4.

In an email statement from Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin the chief medical health officer, she says because of the COVID transmission in Surrey schools, enhanced mask guidelines were made.

“Though immunization of school-based staff is underway, these enhanced masking guidelines will help ensure classrooms in Surrey remain safe learning environments for all individuals in schools while we work toward immunizing our communities in phases three and four of B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan,” her statement reads.