Masks will not be mandatory when Red Deer Public Schools re-open to students this fall. (Photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)

Masks will not be mandatory when Red Deer Public Schools re-open to students this fall. (Photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)

Masks will be encouraged, but not mandatory, when Red Deer Public Schools re-open to students

Enhanced school cleaning will be maintained

Masks will be encouraged but not required when Red Deer Public School students return to class this fall.

Red Deer Public Schools will follow Alberta Education guidelines when it comes to masking — which means masks are recommended in school and classroom settings but are not mandatory.

Masks will be mandatory on student transportation, however, until at least Sept. 27, as per provincial health guidelines.

“The Board’s decision regarding masks is reflective of the current provincial health guidelines and what we are seeing in our community,” said Nicole Buchanan, Board Chair. “While these are difficult decisions, our focus continues to be on what is best for teaching and learning for our students and staff.”

The re-entry plan was passed during a special Board Meeting on Thursday.

Buchanan, board vice-chair Laurette Woodward, and trustees Bev Manning and Bill Stuebing voted for the motion.

But trustees Cathy Peacocke and Dianne Macaulay voted against the motion.

Also part of the re-entry plan is encouraging every student age 12 and up, who is eligible for a vaccine, to get the jab against COVID-19, while school activities are planned to resume as normal.

In other re-entry health measures posted Thursday on the Red Deer Public Schools website, parents will be expected to assess their children daily before sending them to school and keep them home when sick.

Teachers will provide at-home support for students who are not attending class because they are sick.

Visitors to schools will have to make appointments first and enhanced pandemic cleaning measures will be maintained.

Use of masks in classrooms was a divisive issue, according to the opinions expressed by parents and staff when the school division recently solicited input.

According to the school re-entry information released on Thursday, mask use for pre-kindergarten to Grade 12 students is recommended but not required.

Students, parents/guardians, staff and visitors are encouraged to consider their own risk of acquiring COVID-19, influenza and other respiratory illnesses when making decisions on whether their children should wearing a mask in the classroom.

“Personal decisions in regards to the use of masks will be supported by schools.”

Alberta Health regulations now require masks be worn on school buses and public transportation until at least Sept. 27.

“Use of masks will be reviewed as needed as local conditions change.”

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