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

RCMP are looking for “an unknown man who wrapped his arms around” a female youth in Clayton Feb. 26. (Black Press file photo)
Youth assaulted by unknown man in Cloverdale

Mounties looking for ‘tall and thin’ Caucasian man in his 40’s with short dark brown hair

School Board Trustee candidate Joel Neufeld said his favourite children’s book is Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. (Special to The Star)
Langley School District trustee candidates pick favorite children’s books

Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis, Robert Munch, and Dr. Seuss top the list

(File photo)
Township to hold COVID-safe baseball spring break baseball camps

Aldergrove minor baseball and North Langley Trappers run two week camps

The Langley School District has issued COVID-19 notifications for H.D. Stafford Middle and Blacklock Fine Arts Elementary schools. (Langley Schools)
The Langley School District has issued COVID-19 notifications for H.D. Stafford Middle and Blacklock Fine Arts Elementary schools. (Langley Schools)
Langley schools issued COVID-19 alerts, third this week for H.D. Stafford

As of Friday there are four local schools on the exposure list

Nesting season is marked after South Surrey preserve pair welcome first egg on Feb. 24, 2021. (Hancock Wildlife Foundation)
VIDEO: South Surrey bald eagle preserve welcomes first egg, marks nesting season

Second egg is expected Saturday afternoon and the babies will hatch in April

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

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

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

Passengers aboard Komagata Maru in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, 1914 - Library and Archives Canada image
Abbotsford council is asked to rename street in memory of Komagata Maru victims

Most of 376 the passengers aboard ship were denied entry into Canada in 1914

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Most Read