Wednesday January 5, 2022 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
Teachers in BC are asking that N95 masks be provided to all teachers in K-12 schools. That request was reiterated by BCTF President Teri Mooring yesterday.
Island Social Trends inquired with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health regarding the issue of masks in K-12 schools in BC.
It appears that funding is made available to school districts for providing COVID-related safety needs, including masks, but apparently on an as-needed basis, without the Ministry giving a directive to commit to full supply to all teachers at all times.
The funding mentioned as to school districts “for COVID-related needs” includes masks but is also being used by school districts for a wide range of needs related to the pandemic (including janitorial services, cleaning supplies, and additional classroom supports).
BC Health and Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry always emphasize that masks are part of the public health toolkit for COVID protection. It’s unlikely anyone thinks a mask alone will protect them from getting COVID, especially given the abundant messaging about vaccination, physical distancing and staying home if ill. When discussing masks in this way, it seems to minimize the role of masks, when — of all the measures — are likely the strong frontline defence against acquiring the virus into the body in the first place.
Statement from the Ministry of Education:
“In September 2020, the Ministry of Education provided school districts with $5.7 million to purchase 3.9 million three-layer masks for students and staff.
For this school year, $43.6 million was provided to school districts for COVID-related needs including purchasing masks.
Schools continue to make three-layer masks available for students and staff, and the Ministry of Education will continue to work with the sector to implement Provincial Health Officer orders regarding masks.
We continue to take direction on COVID-related protection measures from the Provincial Health Officer.”
Ministry of Health on N95 masks:
“While N95 respirators are typically single use and disposable, in the community setting they may be reused until visibly dirty, damp or damaged. Therefore, the lifespan will depend on its use, maintenance and care.”
“It is important to remember that masks are one of the several layers of protection required to reduce the risk COVID-19 transmission; mask wearing must be combined with other measures such as physical distancing, hand washing and staying home when sick. More information about masks are available at Masks (bccdc.ca)<http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/prevention-risks/masks#clean>.”
“It is also important to know that a respirator will only work if used correctly. Thus, the key elements for respiratory protection are fit testing and training of each worker in the use, maintenance, and care of the respirator.”
BC teachers want N95 masks & booster priority (January 4, 2022)
COVID rolls into 2022: tough couple of weeks ahead (January 4, 2022)
Education Minister offers assurances on New Year’s Day (January 1, 2022)
Omicron produces scorching high active cases in BC (December 30, 2021)
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