The Holy Spirit Roman Catholic School Division says that as of February 14th, students will not be required to wear masks in schools. Staff, bus drivers, and visitors are still being asked to wear a mask during the school day. This will take place until March 1, depending if hospitalizations from covid stay down. Ken Sampson, the Superintendent for the division, calls the responses from parents polarizing.
“Everything from thought shalt mask forever, to it’s about time, and please don’t force this upon our children. We’ve indicated all the way through this pandemic that we rely on the direction from Alberta Health Services and Alberta education and following their recommendations. We were hoping for more of a gradual release of health protocols and restrictions, but as we know there’s more cases in our communities than what’s reported. We are a little concerned about that. However, we’re still going with the idea that we’re really highly encouraging everyone to continue wearing a mask. Of course we know we have to respect the wishes of families, and so on.”
The division will also be allowing spectators inside to view school sports and extracurricular activities. Masks will be required for parents until March 1.
The Lethbridge School Division will also follow the province’s guidelines and masking will not be required for students. Board Chair for the Lethbridge School Division, Allison Purcell, said they really should have been consulted when it came to dropping mask wearing for students beginning on Monday.
“I think just with consultation for us to have some advanced notice. There are some pieces of the pie that really aren’t narrowed down yet that we still need to figure out. I think that that’s one of the biggest pieces with us not having any advanced notice or any consultation is that for us to plan and go forward we need to have had that opportunity to provide some of our input, as well as be able to plan and prepare for the Restrictions Exemption Program being lifted. As well as with the masking piece for us to plan for those pieces.”
Masks will still be required for adults, including teachers, administrators and other school staff, including bus drivers. Purcell says they support parents about masking decisions for their children and will support school staff in navigating through the change.