Yorkton school division says mask mandate will stay in place despite petition opposing rules

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Good Spirit School Division in Yorkton, Sask., says it is continuing with its mask mandate for students, despite a petition from some members of the public opposed to mandatory masking. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
Good Spirit School Division in Yorkton, Sask., says it is continuing with its mask mandate for students, despite a petition from some members of the public opposed to mandatory masking. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

Good Spirit School Division in Yorkton, Sask., says it is continuing with its mask mandate for kids in kindergarten to Grade 6, in spite of a petition in opposition to the mask requirement.

Quintin Robertson, the director of education with the division, says in the few cases where students have shown up without masks, there is a discussion about the division's policy.

He says the mandate has not resulted in any conflict so far, but also recognizes there is some disagreement with the rules.

"It is unfortunate that this situation has resulted in a rift between certain families and the school division. We certainly do not want to replace or get in the way of people's rights," he said.

However, "we believe that we have a higher responsibility to put reasonable safety measures in place," Robertson said.

He added the division is also trying to "follow the recommendations of our local medical officer, who suggests that masking while in school is the most effective measure to reduce the possibility of COVID."

An online petition on the website change.org says the mask mandates put in place by Good Spirit School Division and Christ the Teacher Catholic Schools, another Yorkton-based division, violate Charter rights, and calls for a meeting with the divisions' boards.

As of Saturday morning the petition, which was started two weeks ago, had over 2,600 signatures.

Vanessa Andres, the campaign manager for Yorkton-Melville Conservative Party candidate Cathay Wagantall, is listed as the creator of the petition.

The provincial government's return to school plan recommends — but does not require — mask use.

Local school divisions have been given autonomy over health measures in their schools, leading some critics to call for province-wide rules, rather than leaving those decisions up to individual school divisions.

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