Despite soaring COVID-19 cases in kids, SD59 opts for status quo on mask mandate
DAWSON CREEK -- Children under the age of ten now have the highest per-capita COVID-19 infection rate of any age group in British Columbia.
Since the beginning of September, cases in that age group have soared from roughly 12 per day for every 100,000 people to 19, only three weeks later.
Higher case numbers are being seen in areas with lower immunization rates like Dawson Creek.
Despite rising numbers, School District 59 says any changes to their COVID-19 mandates in schools, will come from public health authorities.
“As a trustee I don’t feel like I have the expertise to make those decisions and that’s why we have public health professionals that have studied for years and years to make those decision,” said Chad Anderson, School District NO. 59 Board Chair.
“We’re happy, the policies that public health have put in place have been really effective and in our district as well.”
Though Vancouver is reporting vaccination numbers on par with the rest of the province, the Vancouver School Board (VSB) acted quickly to the shift in COVID-19 cases.
The board went above public health guidelines in a unanimous vote on Tuesday, mandating masks for all students in the district.
Starting Monday, kids in kindergarten to grade 3 will be added to the list of students required to wear a mask in classrooms and while on the bus.
Provincial health orders only mandate masks for grades four to twelve.
Despite VSB recognizing a need for increased safety in their schools, Dr. Bonnie Henry says she won’t recommend the expanded mandate province-wide.
"We are seeing increased cases in school aged children. That means that school aged children, some of them will be coming to school with COVID. We know that the things that we need to have in place in schools to prevent transmission in the school setting are myriad,” said the Provincial Health Officer for British Columbia.
The BC Teachers’ Federation says it's pleased with the board’s decision.
“It's great to see this level of advocacy from the Vancouver school board. The K-to-3 mask policy, or lack thereof, has been a big issue,” said Teri Mooring, President of the BCTF.
Health Canada has not yet approved a vaccine for kids under the age of 12, however Pfizer has released a vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds and Dr. Henry says, she intends to distribute it once approved.
With files from CTV Vancouver