Masks no longer mandatory in P.E.I. schools beginning May 24

·3 min read
Since May 6, students have had the option of removing their masks while seated at their desks, but were required to wear them while moving around the school and on the bus. (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)
Since May 6, students have had the option of removing their masks while seated at their desks, but were required to wear them while moving around the school and on the bus. (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)

Masks will no longer be mandatory for students and staff in early learning and childcare centres, K-12 public and private schools and on school buses when classes resume after the Victoria Day weekend May 24.

In addition, according to a news release Friday from the Chief Public Health Office, children, students and staff are no longer required to conduct regular at-home antigen screening tests before attending school or childcare.

For those who wish to continue regular at-home screening, schools and early learning centres will have a supply of tests available.

Antigen screening tests are also available through Access P.E.I. sites across the province.

Since May 6, students have been allowed to remove their masks while seated at their desks, but were required to wear a mask when moving around the school or on the bus.

The lifting of the mask restriction was welcome news to some parents and grandparents who were picking up children at St. Jean Elementary School in Charlottetown on Friday.

'It's good for the kids'

"It's good for the kids," said Dianne O'Brien. "I know my grandkids have a lot of problems with sore ears after wearing them all day. And they can see faces again. I think it's good."

Shannon Lanigan agreed.

"Especially for kids, it's been a long two years for them, having to go through all this. So I'm kind of glad it's going away for their sake."

Children are still welcome to wear the masks if they choose.

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

The Chief Public Health Office recommends that children and staff do not attend childcare or school if they are feeling unwell. If they are symptomatic, it is recommended that testing is completed at a COVID-19 testing clinic.

Terry MacIsaac, the principal at Spring Park Elementary School in Charlottetown, said fewer students are missing school because of COVID-19.

"We could've had 15-20 per cent of our school, maybe more, out of our school at times, and we're well below that now. I would say we're maybe 10 per cent or less, which would be normal if you take in the regular sickness and the other things going around our province right now."

In an email statement to CBC, the P.E.I. Teachers Federation said it will "fully encourage and support the many people who will continue to mask at school to make those decisions."

"Despite masking, staffing and student attendance have been challenging during this wave of the pandemic. It is our hope that today's announcement does not compound these issues."

Isolation requirement still in place

The requirement for people who are COVID-19 positive to isolate for seven days if fully vaccinated or 10 days if not fully vaccinated remains in place, and will be reassessed in two weeks, the CPHO said.

The CPHO is still recommending masks in most indoor public settings, and they are still required in high risk settings, such as hospitals, long-term and community care homes and public transit.

Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador have announced masks will no longer be mandatory in their schools as of Tuesday, as well.

New Brunswick lifted its mask mandate for schools in March.

 

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