For months the Green Party of Canada has been calling for the government to make masks mandatory for children in schoolrooms to prevent the spread of COVID. Now the BC Green Party is launching an online petition calling for it to happen in the province.
“Physical distancing isn’t always possible in schools, and children, teachers and staff go to school every day without the extra protection of a mandatory mask order,” reads the petition.
“We the undersigned call on Premier Horgan, Education Minister Whiteside and the BC Government to immediately institute a mandatory mask order for BC schools.”
Individual schools can currently request mask wearing in the classroom, but there is no province-wide requirement. The province’s health office Dr. Bonnie Henry questioned the effectiveness of such a policy in reaction to a mask petition in B.C. last August.
“There’s very little evidence that that is a measure that’s going to protect people,” she said at the time. “We also know that masks can interfere with the ability to learn, so I think there’s a lot more that we need to understand.”
Some commenters on the Facebook group BC School COVID Tracker, which publishes notices of COVID exposures across the province, disagree.
“As a Teacher -Librarian who sees 400+ kids a week K-5, I would LOVE to see this happen,” wrote Debbie Chand in reaction to the Green petition. “However, I believe that to be successful, it needs to start at home. If parents reinforced it with their kids so that when they were at school the kids knew that we were all on the same page, as teachers we would have some leverage to expect them to be worn.”
“I hate wearing pants. They’re uncomfortable. But I do because it’s expected of me to go out in public,” wrote Desiree Veronica. “If people can wear pants. They can wear a mask.”
The B.C. Teachers’ Federation is also calling for greater mask wearing in schools, while acknowledging that there might have to be some exceptions. “We know there are students and staff members who for various reasons can’t wear masks. And, there are some learning situations where masks aren’t appropriate. That’s all OK,” BCTF president Teri Mooring wrote in an open letter to parents in November.
It’s clearly a controversial topic. What do you think? Comment on Skeena Strong’s Facebook.