As of this week, all students in kindergarten through Grade 12 in Delta and throughout the province are required to wear masks in schools.
The announcement from the province last Friday followed several school districts implementing their own K-12 mandates, while the B.C. Teachers Federation had been calling for a stricter mandate for some time.
In a letter to parents following the announcement, Delta School District superintendent Doug Sheppard said the mandate was expanded in response to the evolving situation with the Delta variant and increasing levels of concern among some parents, students, teachers and boards of education.
All students and staff will be required to wear a mask when inside a school building, including while at their desks and on buses, building on the former guidelines that applied to students in grades 4 to 12. Staff will continue to work with students and families in a positive and supportive way regarding mask wearing, Sheppard said, adding exceptions to the mask policy remain the same.
The mandate extends until the winter break and it will then be reviewed at that time.
“Please ensure your child(ren) has at least one spare mask with them when they arrive at school. This could be a backup in their jacket, backpack or locker,” he said. “We will continue to supply masks for students who forget their mask or who have a mask that breaks during the day. Students and staff may wear a face shield in addition, but must wear a mask under the face shield.”
Asking parents to complete daily health checks for their children before sending them to school, Sheppard noted they will continue to partner with Fraser Health to ensure that health and safety measures in Delta schools are based on the latest public health guidance.
He also noted most COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are now among unvaccinated adults, so it is extremely important for all eligible people over the age of 12 to get vaccinated.
Delta Teachers’ Association president Susan Yao said they are thrilled and relieved that the mask mandate for public schools has been enhanced to include students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 in addition to the mandate that already included students in grades 4 through 12. “We know that students, teachers and staff all need the protections provided by masks, as one of the measures to prevent COVID-19 infections, especially in light of the rising Delta variant numbers,” said Yao. “We strongly support this additional measure as a part of the layers of protection to keep everyone—students and staff—safe. While we know that there may be the need for some exemptions for masking or vaccinations, this expanded mask mandate supports the other measures being taken.
“The DTA expects that any need for exemptions will involve respectful conversations between individuals and the Delta School District; the District is obligated to ensure that protocols are in place to keep everybody safe. The DTA’s obligation to teachers is to advocate for their safety. As such, the DTA is encouraging the public to do its part: mask up and get vaccinated.”