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Selkirk College Adopts Mandatory Face Mask Policy

Selkirk College Electrical Foundation Program students (L-R) Mack Adams, Kolbe Friesen and Landen Horton are currently on Nelson’s Silver King Campus for in-person delivery of curriculum. To ensure the health and safety of their peers and instructors, students have been wearing non-medical face masks when two-metre physical distancing is not possible. The college has now implemented a mandatory face mask policy on all its campuses and learning centres. — Selkirk College Photo

Selkirk College has introduced a mandatory non-medical face mask policy at all of its campuses and learning centres.

In keeping with Provincial Government directions to temper the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the regional post-secondary now requires all students, staff and visitors to don a face mask where physical distancing is difficult to maintain.

“This is an important step that will help ensure the health and safety of our Selkirk College community,” says Vice President of College Services Kerry Clarke.

“As our region moves further into recovery, Selkirk College will be an important part of how we manage the pandemic going forward. Wearing a non-medical face mask is an effective measure to limit the spread and allow necessary in-person activity on our campuses.”

Non-medical face masks will be required in all indoor common areas such as lobbies, hallways, stairwells, washrooms, libraries, bookstores, study spaces, elevators, kitchens and other areas that are shared or engaged in activities risking violation of the two-metre physical distancing requirement. If working outdoors where the two-metre rule is in jeopardy, face masks must also be worn.

The new policy is part of Selkirk College’s comprehensive health and safety plan that is allowing the post-secondary to provide learners an opportunity to study in-person where possible and online where required. Several programs have been running throughout the summer with a mix of in-person and remote learning. The fall semester begins in September where the bulk of the programs will resume.

“With strict adherence to guidelines put forward by the Provincial Health Officer, our staff have been working diligently to prepare procedures and an adapted physical environment that will allow us to deliver our programs in the coming months,” says Clarke.

“We have already witnessed success in trades programs on the Silver King Campus and other cohorts who have been busy learning over the last couple of months. The face mask policy is one more move towards making people understand that safety is our number-one priority.”

Though the new policy has just been introduced, students and staff who have been engaged with in-person delivery of curriculum have been wearing non-medical face masks where physical distancing is not possible

“I feel good about wearing a mask and that everyone else is doing it too,” says Electrical Foundation Program student Logan Hildebrand. “It's worth it to me, to be safer and doing my part in not spreading the virus.”

To ensure access to a supply, Selkirk College ordered 6,000 non-medical cloth face masks which were made by Grand Forks quilter Florence Vatkin and her team at Caba’s Quilting Cottage. The epic order of high quality masks exhausted Vatkin’s cloth supply and has added an important local touch to the new normal.

“Given the uncertain times and the impact COVID-19 is having on our local communities, it is very important to the college that we support local businesses,” says Selkirk College’s Health & Safety Advisor Donna Drover.

“These masks were made by a group of women who truly love what they do and my hope is that all employees, students and visitors can extend that further by showing that they respect one another by wearing their mask.”

The masks will be handed out to employees and staff who will start to return to campuses and learning centres in the next couple of weeks.

The Fall Semester begins on September 8.

You can learn more about Selkirk College’s response to COVID-19 and the preparations being put in place at: https://selkirk.ca/september-2020