Masks will stay on at P.E.I. schools 'for the foreseeable future'

·2 min read
Norbert Carpenter says there have been some talks with the Chief Public Health Office about the P.E.I. school mask guidelines, but no changes are planned at the moment.
Norbert Carpenter says there have been some talks with the Chief Public Health Office about the P.E.I. school mask guidelines, but no changes are planned at the moment.

(CBC - image credit)

Students will still have to mask up while in Prince Edward Island schools "for the foreseeable future," says the head of the Public Schools Branch.

Many restrictions brought in during the December circuit break, designed to stop a COVID-19 outbreak among young people, have since been relaxed by Dr. Heather Morrison's office.

But there are no changes planned to the masking guidelines at schools on the Island, says Norbert Carpenter, the acting director of the Public Schools Branch.

"I think there [were ] some discussions about changing it after the circuit breaker and after we get into the New Year," Carpenter said.

"At this point, it will remain in place, but we're consistently speaking with the CPHO about that."

He added that students and parents can bank on the masking guidelines staying in place "for the foreseeable future."

N.L. providing grim lesson

The need for vigilance was demonstrated in Newfoundland and Labrador this week, when dozens of new cases starting showing up in people aged under 20.

Bruce Tilley/CBC
Bruce Tilley/CBC

The province operated an emergency testing clinic at one high school in Mount Pearl, which abuts St. John's.

As of Friday, 244 new cases had emerged in the past five days, bringing the number of active cases to 260.

Schools and non-essential businesses in the capital of St. John's and surrounding municipalities have been closed in an effort to stem the outbreak.

"The evolving situation in Newfoundland is a stark reminder of how quickly things can change with COVID-19," Morrison said in a news release on Friday.

"Despite hopeful signs across the country, there continue to be outbreaks."

Island requirements

Here on Prince Edward Island, all students are required to wear a non-medical mask on the school bus.

There is a recommendation that students in kindergarten to Grade 6 wear a non-medical mask indoors when physical distancing isn't possible.

Students in grades 7-12 are required to wear a non-medical mask indoors, except in situations like eating or drinking, participating in a physical activity or playing certain musical instruments.

"Wearing a non-medical mask is not required when students are in a classroom and able to physically distance (6 feet/2 metres)," the Public Schools Branch said in an email to CBC News.

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