There is potential that a person infected with a COVID-19 variant was at Garibaldi secondary, prompting calls from teachers for better health and safety rules. (Neil Corbett/The News)

There is potential that a person infected with a COVID-19 variant was at Garibaldi secondary, prompting calls from teachers for better health and safety rules. (Neil Corbett/The News)

BCTF wants more mask wearing in schools, citing new variants

Link to new variant at Maple Ridge school brings call for stronger mask mandate

With the possibility of a COVID-19 variant in a Maple Ridge high school, the BCTF is saying schools need a stronger mask mandate.

The union would like masks to be mandatory everywhere in schools, for children aged 10 and up.

“That would be a reasonable response to this,” said Maple Ridge Teachers’ Association president Trevor Takasaki. “It would alleviate some people’s anxiety.”

A person at Garibaldi secondary who tested positive for the virus is a close contact of another case, which was identified as one of the new variants. The variants, which originate from the UK and South Africa, are more easily transmissible.

Early Tuesday, it was not yet known whether the variant had arrived at the Maple Ridge school.

On Monday, some 80 students and teachers from Garibaldi secondary were tested at the Ridge Meadow UPCC COVID-19 Assessment Centre, which cancelled all other appointments for the day.

Takasaki appreciated Fraser Health’s response to prioritize testing for the school students and staff, saying “that was prudent, in my mind.”

READ ALSO: Case of COVID-19 at Maple Ridge high school may be new variant

On Monday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province is revising and updating its COVID-19 guidance, saying there “will be more about that” this week.

“I do think it’s important to enforce the mask wearing that we have in the school setting, and particularly in light of the variants that we are seeing in our community,” said Henry.

B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Teri Mooring said Monday that teachers are indeed enforcing the current mask rules, but they are not strong enough, because students are only required to wear masks in hallways, on buses and in common areas.

However, in a classroom – within their cohort of 60-120 people – students cannot be told to wear masks.

BCTF also says there is not room in many classes for physical distancing.

Mooring said the mask mandate in B.C. is weaker than that of other provinces.

READ ALSO: Since March, 5,030 travellers have quarantined in Canadian hotels – 717 in B.C.

The Education Ministry is supposed to update health and safety guidelines, but Mooring said discussions have been happening since November, and educators are frustrated by delays.

It is a longstanding issue for the union. The BCTF issued a press release on Oct. 6 saying the majority of teachers polled called health and safety measures in schools inadequate.


Have a story tip? Email: ncorbett@mapleridgenews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirusmaple ridgePitt Meadows

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Maple Ridge and Langley Township have made the Smart21 list.
Virtual conference co-hosts Maple Ridge and Langley Township make list of Smart21

21 communities shortlisted for Intelligent Community of the Year after online event

Snowfall warnings Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 for parts of the Fraser Valley and Fraser Canyon. (Jennifer Feinberg/The Chilliwack Progress)
Winter storm warnings Thursday for Fraser Valley and Fraser Canyon

Snow is expected to become heavier as day progresses with snowfall amounts of up to 30 centimetres

Annemieke Vrijmoed sent in this photo that for her captures the magic of the Fraser River.
SHARE: The magic of the Fraser River

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Members of Katzie First Nation got into the spirit of Pink Shirt Day with honking, car decoration, and drumming. (Ronan O’Doherty/ The News)
Katzie First Nation recognizes Pink Shirt Day with ‘honking’ parade

Community rallies together to promote anti-bullying message

COVID-19 (Pixabay)
COVID-19 exposures at schools in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Alexander Robinson and Edit McDermott are latest elementary schools exposed

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Court makes public ‘abbreviated’ reasons for judgment in Surrey Six slaying appeals

Six men were murdered in suite 1505 of the Balmoral Tower in Whalley on Oct. 19, 2007

A 50-year-old man was stabbed in an altercation that started with a disagreement about physical distancing. (File photo)
Argument about physical distancing escalates to stabbing in Nanaimo

Victim, struck with coffee cup and then stabbed, suffers minor injuries; suspect arrested

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Police stopped car riddled with bullets in Whalley Monday night. (Photo: CFSEU)
Police seize two pounds of pot, $25K from Surrey car riddled with bullet holes

This was in the neighbourhood of 104th Avenue and Whalley Boulevard on Monday night

“Support your city” reads a piece of graffiti outside the Ministry of Finance office. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti ‘unacceptable’ says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Most Read