High school students in Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district will be required to wear masks in high-traffic areas. (Stock photo)

High school students in Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district will be required to wear masks in high-traffic areas. (Stock photo)

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district won’t heed request for mandatory masks right now

School board discusses letter from group of doctors urging masks for all age groups

A group of B.C. doctors is asking for Nanaimo Ladysmith school district’s support in making mask wearing mandatory for students, staff and teachers.

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ teachers are scheduled to be back in school Sept. 8 to become acclimatized with COVID-19 safety protocols, with students back in school beginning Thursday, Sept. 10. Masks will be required of district secondary school students and staff in high-traffic areas, but there will be no mask requirement for elementary school students.

In a letter to the school board, the doctors, grouping themselves as Masks 4 B.C., noted that some form of mandatory mask wearing is in effect for schools in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Québec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories and Alberta. They expressed concern that “there is no firm plan to ensure the safety of students, teachers and other school staff” in the province.

“From Dr. Bonnie Henry’s press conferences, it is clear that she is unfortunately not planning on mandating masks in schools,” the organization wrote to the school district. A separate letter to the B.C. government from Masks 4 Canada, an affiliate, suggests mandatory face coverings in all indoor spaces including hospitals, schools, businesses, buses, among crowds and other places where social distancing is difficult. The organization doesn’t recommend penalties for non-compliance, but rather education on how to wear masks properly and their importance.

Stephanie Higginson, B.C. School Trustees Association president and Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district trustee, said the association believes in a science-based approach and supports the provincial health measures in place.

“If provincial health tells us [mandatory masks] are required to keep us safe then we’ll move to that,” said Higginson. “But at this point, there are health risks associated with mask-wearing, particularly with young kids.”

She said if she were an elementary school teacher, she would have concerns about having to touch 25 kids’ faces who would be asking for help with their masks.

EDITORIAL: Back-to-school during COVID-19 an all-new lesson

Charlene McKay, Nanaimo-Ladysmith school board chairperson, expressed similar sentiments.

“Honestly, we are quite comfortable encouraging the guidelines set out by the public health office and respecting and supporting parents and students to wear their masks where and when they feel comfortable,” McKay said.

The Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district voted to accept the Masks 4 B.C. letter as correspondence at its Sept. 2 meeting.

RELATED: SD68 high school students to take two classes each day

RELATED: Independent schools in Nanaimo create their own back-to-school plans



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusEducation

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

Just Posted

The City of Nanaimo is looking at spending another $400,000 on security throughout downtown in 2021, with a focus on overnight security. (Stock photo)
City of Nanaimo looks at increasing downtown security

Council members will consider $400,000 increase in 2021, $1.45 million in 2022

‘Nanaimo’ will be spelled out in five-foot-tall letters upon a slab of concrete overlooking Swy-a-Lana Lagoon at Maffeo Sutton Park. (Greg Sakaki/The News Bulletin)
Five-foot-tall letters spelling out ‘Nanaimo’ coming to Maffeo Sutton Park

$50,000-project expected to be installed by the end of April

Nanaimo RCMP hope the public can help find a 37-year-old man who was last seen early Tuesday, April 13. (Photo submitted)
RCMP searching for missing Nanaimo man

Friends, family of Robert William Sport, 37, extremely concerned for his safety and well-being

Guy Black passed through Nanaimo on Tuesday, April 13, on a 300-kilometre walk from Tofino to Langley to commemorate the contribution Canadian troops made in the Korean War battle of Kapyon in April 1951. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Man’s 300-kilometre walk commemorates Korean War battle

Guy Black walking from Tofino to Langley to honour veterans

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees on highway near Ladysmith

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island’s Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

A Nanaimo man will serve nine months in jail for the sexual assault of a young girl he admitted to having committed more than 40 years ago. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo man sentenced for sexually abusing girl more than 40 years ago

Man, now 71, gets nine-month sentence for abuse of friend’s daughter

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo teen arrested a day after allegedly assaulting and bullying victim

Teen taken into custody after wielding weapon and threatening driver at scene of car crash

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photo courtesy Ella Smiley)
Orcas near the beach thrill whale watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

RCMP on scene yesterday at the altercation at the trailer park. (Submitted photo)
Violent altercation at Port Hardy trailer park sends one to hospital

Police say man confronted another over airsoft shooting, then was attacked with a weapon

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Most Read