Full-time in-person learning for elementary and secondary students got the green light from the province Tuesday, Aug. 24, but masks have been mandated for those in Grades 4 through 12 as well as staff and visitors to the schools.
This, in addition to vaccinations, masking, enhanced cleaning and upgraded ventilation are intended to keep students and staff safe at school.
“The beginning of each school year brings such energy and excitement and we look forward to seeing that again throughout our district,” said board chair Candace Spilsbury. “This year, like the last two, will see us having to deal with the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, and like years past, we will be working hard to ensure the health and safety of everyone in our schools and workplaces.”
Spilsbury noted that while students in Grades K-3 haven’t been mandated to wear masks, it’s encouraged.
“The guidelines also encourage the wearing of masks in Kindergarten to Grade 3,” she said. “Like last year, we want to encourage a culture of mask wearing amongst even our youngest students and we hope that families can help in that endeavor.”
While The Cowichan Valley board of education is confident their “schools will remain safe places to be” Spilsbury noted that it’ll be up to families and the greater community to help ensure they stay that way by completing daily health checks and not attending school if signs of illness are presenting.
“With these interwoven layers of protection, the board is optimistic that this school year will offer the right balance of health and safety measures and increased activities that will make this year memorable,” Spilsbury said.
The Citizen asked Facebook parents their thoughts on the school mandate and opinion was mixed.
Their comments have been edited to correct spelling and typos but their sentiments have not been altered.
“So if my nine-year-old doesn’t have to wear a mask in public spaces but he has to wear one in school…sure that makes sense!” wrote Nicole Gollinger.
Others agreed, while some held the opposite view.
“I’m relieved the mandate has been reinstated,” Brenda Montgomery said.
Myrna Jackson agreed.
“I for one am very pleased it’s been mandated. My daughter is 11 and cannot be vaccinated,” she explained. “My two older kids have both vaccines and choose to still wear masks because they have read the articles about the Delta variant and they want to keep their sister safe. Kids are more aware of what’s going on in the world than a lot of adults give them credit for. My daughter feels safer wearing a mask and so she will until she receives both vaccines.”