The head of the teacher’s association in Maple Ridge feels a majority of teachers in the school district would support a mask mandate for all students – following the lead of the Vancouver School Board who voted in favour of one on Monday.
During a meeting on Sept. 27 the Vancouver School Board, (VSB), voted in favour of making masks mandatory for students from kindergarten to Grade 3, citing the rise of COVID-19 cases among children.
However, SD42 will not be following their lead.
The Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows School District will continue to follow all recommendations set out in the Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12, said senior manager, communications, Irena Pochop.
“The current guidance stipulates that masks are encouraged for students in kindergarten to Grade 3. Should this guidance change, we will ensure these changes are implemented at school level,” said Pochop.
Trevor Takasaki, president of the Maple Ridge Teachers Association, said a majority of teachers in the district would support following the same path as the VSB.
“I think this is the time to really consider that full Grade mask mandate,” he said, adding he was impressed the VSB made the decision to go that direction on their own.
One of the biggest frustrations, he said was Fraser Health creating mandates and directives that do not make sense to a lot of teachers.
Takasaki is disappointed with the response from Fraser Health about the current notification process. Last year parents received notifications if there was an exposure within the school. This year the province was going to stop exposure notifications, but reversed their decision just last week. However, Takasaki noted, the notification process has not returned to what it was last year. And, he said, Fraser Health is not doing enough to notify parents or staff when there are problems in a school.
Parents, added Takasaki, had a better ability to make informed decisions last year, about how they wished to respond to a COVID exposure.
Pochop advised the school district is currently waiting for an update from the Public Health Officer about the reinstatement of general exposure notifications.
“Our school district has been following the guidance provided by the Ministry of Education and public health experts throughout the pandemic, and we continue to rely on this guidance. Should the mandates change, we will implement the required changes immediately,” said Pochop.
Takasaki will be following the VSB decision and how the province responds to it – closely. Last year, school districts that tried to diverge from provincial mandates were shot down quite dramatically, explained Takasaki.
“If they are allowed to go beyond what’s dictated, I think that would make a lot of teachers feel better to feel like we have some sort of control over our situation.”
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