British Columbia

B.C. teachers' union appeals directly to parents to 'support culture of mask wearing'

In the absence of a mandatory school mask policy from the province, the B.C. Teachers' Federation is reaching out directly to families in an open letter addressed to parents.

Province has made masks mandatory in virtually all indoor public spaces, but not schools

Students line up outside at L.A. Matheson Secondary School in Surrey, B.C. in September. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The president of the B.C. Teachers' Federation is appealing to parents directly to "support a culture of mask wearing" in schools.

"We need to be doing all we can to ensure we keep each other safe. No one wants to bring COVID-19 home to their families," wrote BCTF president Teri Mooring in an open letter to parents.

Last week amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made the wearing of face masks mandatory in virtually all indoor public spaces, but not schools.

"Ordering universal mask use in all situations creates unnecessary challenges with enforcement and stigmatization," said Henry at the time.

The BCTF has been asking for a stronger school mask mandate from the province since August, saying it was unacceptable to treat schools differently from other workplaces. 

While not compulsory in classrooms, masks are expected to be worn by students in high traffic areas like hallways and on buses.

Masks hanging in a classroom at Bridgeview Elementary in Surrey in August. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

In Tuesday's letter, Mooring asks parents to talk to their children about wearing masks in school to help create a "respectful culture of mask wearing."

"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," she wrote.

"Our school communities have a lot of experience making sure people are included and treated with kindness and respect."

As of Nov. 14, 261 of B.C.'s 1,942 schools had registered COVID-19 exposures. But there had been fewer than a dozen transmissions of the virus in schools and only one outbreak in the Interior, Henry said in a news conference at that time.

B.C. schools have had 'very few' COVID-19 transmissions, says Dr. Bonnie Henry

CBC News BC

2 months agoVideo
1:55
B.C.'s provincial health officer says nine out of 10 schools in B.C. have not had a COVID-19 exposure, a sign that public health measures are working. 1:55

Three schools in the Fraser Health District have shut down for two weeks because of  COVID-19 cases.

Henry has said, according to modelling so far, schools have not been a major source of virus transmission.

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