Government rethinking its approach to masks in schools

The Government of Saskatchewan has procured six million disposable masks for schools in Saskatchewan with an investment of $2.3 million. This represents a supply of masks for school divisions until the end of the calendar year.

Under current guidance in Level 1 of Saskatchewan’s Safe Schools Plan, mask and personal protective equipment usage recommendations are in place in many Saskatchewan school division plans. The Government of Saskatchewan has been carefully monitoring the release of federal guidelines by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and feedback from provincial stakeholders including the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) in regards to a safe return to schools. 

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In consideration of these guidelines and feedback, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer and the Ministries of Education and Health are actively considering a mandatory masking policy under Level 2 of Saskatchewan’s Safe Schools Plan.

As the situation with COVID-19 in Saskatchewan is fluid, the Safe Schools Plan provides consideration to changes and updates as needed, as accounted for within the four levels. Under Level 2 of the plan, mask usage can be implemented under the direction of the chief medical health officer in consultation with Public Health either regionally or provincially, based on the most up-to-date situation and scientific information available.

The initial order of six million masks will be delivered and distributed to school divisions before the start of school year, which is set to start as early as Sept. 1, depending on local school calendars. These masks will be made available to students, teachers and staff at the beginning of the school year and on a daily basis.

In addition to face masks, the province has supported school divisions in obtaining access to free face shields for staff through a Canadian company based in Ontario.  The full-face shields will be another option available to staff.

The 27 provincial school divisions had a saving of approximately $40 million for last school year, which the province has encouraged be used towards costs associated with additional procurement as school divisions feel necessary.

Rallies have been happening in front of the Saskatchewan legislature and in front of MLA offices in Saskatchewan Friday in support of masks. 

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