Union points to high COVID work claims by teachers as proof all students need masks

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VANCOUVER — The head of the British Columbia Teachers' Federation is citing a high number of COVID-19 workplace claims in her renewed call for the province to require all students to wear masks in classrooms.

Teri Mooring says WorkSafeBC's acceptance of three times the number of claims from elementary school teachers compared with those at secondary schools underscores the importance of wearing masks.

The latest WorkSafeBC data show 88 COVID-19 claims have been allowed from elementary teachers compared with 26 from secondary schools.

However, the Education Ministry says schools have seen low transmission rates, suggesting current guidelines are working.

Rules on masks were expanded last month to require students in middle and secondary schools to wear them in all indoor areas at school, as well as in learning groups.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said the updated guidelines are in line with those in workplaces and the level of exposure in schools is a reflection of what's happening in any given community.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 16, 2021.

The Canadian Press