Tuesday , 20 October 2020

Sask. revise mask requirement in Safe Schools Plan

The Government of Saskatchewan has modified its safety guidelines for when classrooms resume in September.

The province and Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, has added extra information for divisions looking to advance to level 2 of precautionary measures, which would mandate masks for staff and students.

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Education, Gordon Wyant is leaving up to divisions to decide to implement mask or not.

“We have schools ranging from four students to over 1,600 students. We need to consider what works for all facilities. So today we’re providing guidance to ensure school divisions have the public health information they need to make their decisions for their local school division,” said Wyant in a news conference on Tuesday.

“While we know there’s a number of school divisions that have expressed an interest in masking policies, not all have.”

Upon deciding whether or not to use masks, divisions must also consult with public health officials.

Students in Grades 4 through 12 will be required to wear a mask in high traffic areas, such as in hallways and on buses. For students in Grades 9 through 12, masks may be required in classrooms where maintaining physical distancing isn’t possible or where students are outside of the cohort within their classroom, as well as all teachers and staff.

For those high schools that have a high density population, further discussions with Saskatchewan’s 27 school divisions have resulted in factors being developed for those considering Level 3.

This precautionary level would see school capacity reduced, in-classroom and virtual learning implemented.

School divisions may consider additional options, including alternating days for high school students.

Dr. Saqib Shahab has also directed the following additional measures to be included in all division plans:

• teacher and class cohorting, with a focus on cohorting teachers to a limited number of students and keeping students in one cohort as much as possible;
• in elementary school settings, students’ cohorts will be the classroom;
• in high school settings where cohorting is more complex, school divisions will be encouraged to find creative solutions to move students in cohorts where possible;
• front-facing instruction for students, any exceptions will be identified for approval by public health; and
• staggered start times, breaks and end times, where possible.

Students are encouraged to bring their own non-medical cloth masks.  Mask guidelines can be found in the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan here at www.saskatchewan.ca/re-open.
The Government of Saskatchewan will make masks available to students, teachers and staff through a $2.3 million investment for six million disposable masks for schools.

About Tre Lopushinsky

Tre is the lead reporter/editor at Lloyd Connect. He is a NAIT Radio and Television alumni. Tre has experience in radio, audio production, video editing and news reporting. During his time at NAIT he worked as a sports editor for the college paper and was a commentator for NAIT Ooks Basketball and volleyball teams. Some residents may know him as being the "giant employee" in the community for the past two years. Tre, for some reason, hasn’t veered away from his childhood as he has a passion for collecting figures (not dolls!).

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