There is potential that a person infected with a COVID-19 variant was at Garibaldi secondary, prompting calls from teachers for better health and safety rules. (Neil Corbett/The News)

There is potential that a person infected with a COVID-19 variant was at Garibaldi secondary, prompting calls from teachers for better health and safety rules. (Neil Corbett/The News)

BCTF renews call for mandatory masks in schools as new COVID variants spread

Link to new variant at Maple Ridge school brings call for stronger mask mandate

With the possibility of a COVID-19 variant in a Maple Ridge high school, the BCTF is saying schools need a stronger mask mandate.

The union would like masks to be mandatory everywhere in schools, for children aged 10 and up.

“That would be a reasonable response to this,” said Maple Ridge Teachers’ Association president Trevor Takasaki. “It would alleviate some people’s anxiety.”

A person at Garibaldi secondary who tested positive for the virus is a close contact of another case, which was identified as one of the new variants. The variants, which originate from the UK and South Africa, are more easily transmissible.

Early Tuesday, it was not yet known whether the variant had arrived at the Maple Ridge school.

On Monday, some 80 students and teachers from Garibaldi secondary were tested at the Ridge Meadow UPCC COVID-19 Assessment Centre, which cancelled all other appointments for the day.

Takasaki appreciated Fraser Health’s response to prioritize testing for the school students and staff, saying “that was prudent, in my mind.”

READ ALSO: Case of COVID-19 at Maple Ridge high school may be new variant

On Monday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province is revising and updating its COVID-19 guidance, saying there “will be more about that” this week.

“I do think it’s important to enforce the mask wearing that we have in the school setting, and particularly in light of the variants that we are seeing in our community,” said Henry.

B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Teri Mooring said Monday that teachers are indeed enforcing the current mask rules, but they are not strong enough, because students are only required to wear masks in hallways, on buses and in common areas.

However, in a classroom – within their cohort of 60-120 people – students cannot be told to wear masks.

BCTF also says there is not room in many classes for physical distancing.

Mooring said the mask mandate in B.C. is weaker than that of other provinces.

READ ALSO: Since March, 5,030 travellers have quarantined in Canadian hotels – 717 in B.C.

The Education Ministry is supposed to update health and safety guidelines, but Mooring said discussions have been happening since November, and educators are frustrated by delays.

It is a longstanding issue for the union. The BCTF issued a press release on Oct. 6 saying the majority of teachers polled called health and safety measures in schools inadequate.


Have a story tip? Email: ncorbett@mapleridgenews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusMaple RidgePitt Meadows

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Police Service cruiser. (File photo)
Surrey Police Service, CUPE sign staff transfer agreement from RCMP to new force

Chief Constable says there will be ‘no disruption’ to police service during transfer

Seed & Stone hopes to open a cannabis retail store in the old Giraffe Restaurant building on White Rock’s waterfront. (Seed & Stone rendering).
Council to decide on cannabis store proposed for White Rock beach

Councillors heard support and opposition at public hearing last week

SkyTrain running through Whalley. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Mayors’ Council wants feds to fund Surrey-Langley SkyTrain in upcoming budget

Mayors’ Council on regional transportation sent letter to federal government Monday

Spring Break kits available for free at Surrey Libraries branches. (submitted photo)
Free ‘Spring Break Kits’ for kids at Surrey Libraries

Children don’t need a library card to get a kit, but can sign up for one for free

An immunizer prepares to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site. (Fraser Health Authority photo)
North Delta COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open ‘in the coming weeks’

Clinic next to Delta City Hall opens March 15 for seniors 90+, Indigenous people 65+, Indigenous Elders

An animated Gordie Hogg introduces his 'Community Connections' videos. (YouTube screenshot)
Community Connections: Gordie Hogg speaks with Denise Stevenson

Former mayor, MP began posting conversations on YouTube in June

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Have thoughts on B.C.’s review of the provincial Police Act?

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Some of the hundreds of pounds of trash removed by divers last month from Abbotsford’s Walmsley Lake.(Henry Wang photo)
VIDEO: Divers remove 462 pounds of trash from Abbotsford lake

Walmsley Lake dive uncovers several tires, hundreds of drink containers and a tent

Trent Miner is returning to the Vancouver Giants, the team announced. He has been released by the Colorado Eagles of the AHL.(Rik Fedyck/Vancouver Giants)
Trent Miner returns to play goal for Vancouver Giants

Netminder was part of epic 11-game winning-streak by Langley-based team

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Most Read