Kootenay Lake School District Superintendent Christine Perkins said Wednesday masks are now “required” to be worn for all students Grades 4-12 attending school.
In an email statement to Kootenay Lake District Parents Advisory, Perkins also said the wearing of masks is “highly recommended” for students in Kindergarten to Grade 3.
“We need to stop what is going on in the province, and now it is a requirement for Grade four to Grade 12 students to be wearing the masks,” Perkins said, adding this policy change is for at least the next three weeks while the province goes through its “Circuit Breaker” process while trying to contain the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
“Please encourage students to wear masks all day long while at school except, of course while eating . . . (and) for teachers, for example, when they are giving instruction.
“But please wear masks,” Perkins added. “Grades four and up is required.”
The decision by the Kootenay Lake School District comes after the province published its new guidance Wednesday morning, saying masks are indeed required for students in Grade 4 and higher.
Monday, BC provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry amended provincial public health orders due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
“Rising case levels, variants of concern, increased transmission and an increase in more severe cases are huge concerns,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.
“B.C. public health officials are making the tough choices now to break the chain and protect our communities.”
Perkins said Kootenay Lake District staff has placed order for extra masks to assist students not able to attend with face coverings.
“We are so thankful for all the compliance and participation and understanding as the province and the world goes through this process,” Perkins explained.
“We’ve got to do this together. We’ve got to put a stop to this, so please wear your masks.”
Perkins also had a message, regarding gatherings, for parents and adults in the community to set an example for students.
“It’s really difficult for our kids to see that (adults) are not standing six feet apart, (and) not wearing your masks. . .. That you’re not gathering after work and you’re not meeting indoors.”
Kootenay Lake School District No. 8 has schools in the East and West Kootenay communities, including Crawford Bay, Creston, Kaslo, Meadow Creek, Nelson, Salmo, Slocan, South Slocan, Winlaw, Wynndel and Yahk. There are more than 5,400 students in the Kootenay Lake District.
Perkins suggested with the change of seasons from winter to spring, and the warmer weather, for teachers to take students outside and enjoy the wonderful outdoors found here in the Kootenays.
“As soon as anything changes, we will let you know, but for now wear your masks,” Perkins said.
“And don’t forget to wash your hands.”