(PQB News file photo)

(PQB News file photo)

COVID-19: School District 69 issues revised health and safety measures to staff and parents

Students in Grades 5-12 must now wear non-medical facemasks

On Thursday (Feb. 5), Minister of Education Jennifer Whiteside and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced enhancements to school and district health and safety measures. School District 69 (Qualicum) issued a public statement to parents and staff on the revised health and safety measures for SD69.

The announcements include stronger requirements for middle and secondary students, as well as staff, to wear masks. They also include strengthened guidelines for physical education and music classes, a rapid response team in each health authority to help if there is a significant exposure/outbreak at a school, updated safety plans to be implemented at each school and a health-checker app to support daily screening.

The new safety guidelines state that all middle and secondary students and K-12 staff will now be required to wear non-medical masks in all indoor areas, including when they are with their learning groups.

Exceptions to the guideline includes when people are sitting or standing at their seat or workstation in a classroom, behind a barrier, eating or drinking or medically exempt, in which case distancing and barriers are key.

READ MORE: Some mandatory mask-wearing to be part of Qualicum back-to-school

Prior to these changes, masks were required for middle and secondary students and all K-12 staff in high-traffic areas, like hallways, school buses and outside of classrooms or learning groups when they could not safely distance from others. Those requirements remain in place. For elementary students (Grades K to 4), wearing masks indoors remains a personal family choice. In SD69, the Board of Education has deemed that in the absence of middle schools our mask requirement for students as described above is for all students in Grades 5 to 12.

All staff are required to ensure that staff practise physical distancing of at least two metres during face-to-face meetings; wear masks when unable to maintain physical distancing indoors and when a barrier is not present.

School principals and vice-principals have been provided with updated COVID-19 health and safety checklists to ensure they consistently follow provincial guidelines. Those are being reviewed with school and district health and safety committees.

Additionally, to support daily screening, a new K-12 health-checker app was developed for students and their families, and can be found at www.k12dailycheck.gov.bc.ca.

The app will allow people to answer simple questions every day. It will inform them if they can attend school or if they need to self-isolate and contact 811 to be screened for COVID-19.

— NEWS Staff, submitted

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