Manitoba

More Winnipeg school divisions mandate masks, vaccines

Winnipeg's largest school division will make face masks mandatory for all students, staff and visitors when classes resume this fall.

Masks required in Winnipeg, River East Transcona divisions; Pembina Trails will also mandate staff vaccination

Students, staff and visitors will be required to wear masks in Winnipeg School Division, River East Transcona School Division and Pembina Trails School Division buildings this fall. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Three school divisions in Winnipeg say they will make face masks mandatory for all students, staff and visitors when classes resume this fall.

Winnipeg School Division, River East Transcona School Division and Pembina Trails School Division independently announced their mask mandates for the upcoming school year on Friday.

Pembina Trails said Friday it will also require all staff to be fully vaccinated. 

The announcements from the Winnipeg and River East Transcona school divisions don't mention vaccines.

Keith Morrison, vice-chair of the board of trustees for the River East Transcona School Division, said the decision to require masks was made for children's safety, especially those who are too young to be vaccinated or who may be immunocompromised. 

"We have to take the steps that are necessary with all of these factors that could be descending upon our schools in short order," he said. 

Morrison said the mask mandate will apply to all students, even the youngest. He said the reaction to this has been mixed, but the board felt it was the best thing to do to keep students safe.

He said the board has yet to discuss mandatory vaccinations, but they plan on looking into it. 

The Winnipeg School Division's decision comes after its school board asked Education Minister Cliff Cullen to reconsider the provincial government's policy on masks.

The province's back-to-school pandemic plan strongly recommends — but does not require — masks in schools.

The school board did not receive a reply to a letter asking the province to reconsider the mask policy, a news release from Winnipeg School Division said.

The Manitoba Teachers' Society and Pembina Trails School Division have also asked the province to mandate vaccines for staff ahead of the September return to class.

The province has left it up to school divisions to make stronger rules if they want to.

Several educational institutions have recently said they'll go beyond provincial public health orders and implement stricter protections against the coronavirus.

Louis Riel School Division will require all of its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to work this fall, the Winnipeg division's superintendent confirmed Thursday. Earlier this week, the division said masks also will be required in all kindergarten to Grade 12 schools and school buses.

Brian O'Leary, superintendent of Seven Oaks School Division in Winnipeg, said his board would have "no problem" if the province said school staff must be vaccinated. 

Manitoba's two largest universities — the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg — and several other post-secondary institutions have also announced vaccine and mask requirements. 

With files from Meaghan Ketcheson

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now