Dr. Henry won't mandate masks for students - InfoNews

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Dr. Henry won't mandate masks for students

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry with Health Minister Adrian Dix in the background
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Government of B.C.
August 04, 2020 - 4:27 PM

B.C.'s top doctor knows the plan to send children back to school comes with anxiety for many parents but it's better than the alternative.

"We all have anxieties. We're learning as we go with this virus," provincial Health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said. "But we also know that there are important things that children can only get from being in classroom settings, whether that's full-time, all the time, or whether there's some variety. So we are working towards that."

Parents, teachers and administrators have all been working together to create the plans to mitigate the risks and restore classroom learning.

The plans, she said, are detailed and those details will come out on a school by school basis in the near future.

"Currently, we have a framework that we are confident will keep people safe, will minimize the contacts and with a larger group allow those important interactions that young people need," she said.

Dr. Henry said that everyone needs to remember there are downsides of children not being in school.

"There are many children who are experiencing those now — we've learned that from the surveys that we've done, we've learned that from talking to young people across the province," she said.

Some have experienced increased anxiety or mental health issues.

"For some children, home is not a safe place to be. Many of them have not been in a classroom for it'll be up to 175 days, and the type of learning that many children need in that classroom setting is something that we need to make a priority."

Dr. Henry said that working together will be key in making the plan a success. She also added that she's not likely to mandate mask wearing for children.

"We absolutely do see masks in certain aspects of school being important, particularly where adults aren't together and where children can't maintain those safe distances," she said. "But no, we have no intention of making mandatory masks and I actually don't believe there's evidence to support mask wearing by children in the classroom setting."

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