High school student wearing N95 face masks. (Contributed)

Central Okanagan schools adapt to expanded mask wearing rules

Amended rules now affect all Grade 4-12 students

Central Okanagan Public Schools has acknowledged some adjustment will be required to adhere to amended mask wearing guidelines introduced by the provincial government last week.

The key new stipulation called for by the provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is for all students in Grades 4 to 12 be required to wear a mask or face shield indoors in schools and on school buses – both within and outside of their learning cohort.

Previously, mask wearing was required only for middle and high school students, and not in the classroom.

In a letter to parents, school superintendent/CEO Kevin Kaardal said the school district is adopting these new regulations “with compassion, positivity and inclusion.”

SEE MORE: Central Okanagan School District amps up mask distribution

Kaardal stated teachers at elementary schools will help their students gradually adjust to mask-wearing routines.

He said parents can support their kids by sending them to school with two clean masks, and the school district will work to provide masks to those who need them.

Last week, the school district placed an order for additional masks to meet the increased demand caused by the public health regulation changes.

“No student will be excluded from participating in school if they are unable to wear a mask, and we will work to ensure that no one faces discrimination or stigmatization if they are unable to wear a mask,” Kaardal stated in the letter.

Exceptions to the requirement for students to wear a mask will include:

• if they are outside, including at recess, lunchtime and while learning outside;

• if they are unable to tolerate wearing a mask for health or behavioural reasons;

• if they are unable to put on or remove a mask without the assistance of another person

• if they are engaging in an educational activity that cannot be performed while wearing a mask (actively playing a wind instrument, high-intensity physical activity, etc.) ;

• if they are eating or drinking.

“Our best hopes for brighter days ahead come from everyone working together with courage and compassion,” Kaardal said.

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