Mask mandate in Vancouver will include kindergarten to Grade 3 students

The Vancouver School Board voted unanimously Monday to extend the current mask mandate to include students from kindergarten to Grade 3 although it’s not known when the mandate will come into effect.

Students in Grades 4 to 12 are already required to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In a tweet, the district said more details will be provided in coming days.

Last month, the Ministry of Education updated COVID-19 safety guidelines for the 2021/2022 school year, which included mandatory masks in indoor spaces for students in Grades 4 to 12.

Under the provincial guidelines, younger students are encouraged to wear masks, but it is not mandatory.

The new mask mandate is subject to the same exemptions previously laid out for Grades 4-12. Exemptions include: 

  • If a student cannot tolerate wearing a mask for health or behavioural reasons.
  • The student is unable to put on or remove a mask without help from another person.
  • If the mask is removed temporarily for purposes of identifying the person wearing it.
  • If the mask is removed temporarily to engage in an educational activity that cannot be performed while wearing a mask, such as playing a wind instrument.
  • When eating or drinking.
  • While providing a service to a person with a disability or diverse ability (including but not limited to a hearing impairment) where visual cues, facial expression and/or lip reading/movements are important. 

Trustees Barb Parrott and Allan Wong introduced the motion, which stated the provincial decision not to include kindergarten to Grade 2 was “based on a misperception that children that age find it difficult to wear masks.”

“Teachers teach, parents teach children those ages to do lots of things, including crossing the street safely,” Parrott said on Monday night.

“That age can be taught how to learn, how to wear their masks.”

The motion says this is “one more tool” to protect school communities against the spread of COVID-19. 

“It doesn’t make sense to me to not have a mask mandate,” Parrott said. 

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