The school division in Winnipeg making masks mandatory

WINNIPEG — One school division in Winnipeg is making masks mandatory for the upcoming school year, despite the fact Manitoba’s back-to-school plan does not mandate masks.

On Tuesday, Christian Michalik, superintendent of the Louis Riel School Division (LRSD), released a statement saying that “medical-grade masks (provided by the division) will be mandatory for all staff, students and visitors in our schools K-12 and on school buses.”

The LRSD currently has a stock of 353,000 regular medical masks and 63,000 pediatric medical masks.

The statement notes that the decision to mandate masks comes after the division received feedback from families and staff, and advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada and legal counsel.

“This mask mandate fulfills our statutory obligation to create a safe environment for staff and students,” Michalik said.

“Our community education campaign will continue and focus on how to safely navigate the current stage of the pandemic, including in-school vaccination clinics.”

The school division is also looking into the idea of having staff and students (who are eligible for the vaccine) voluntarily disclose their vaccination status. It is also exploring the potential idea of requiring eligible staff and students be vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as the use of rapid testing kits in schools.

The LRSD will have more information on its back-to-school plan on Aug. 24.

“Our aim is to not only start school in September in a safe and welcoming way, but also to sustain that effort and stay in school despite the fourth wave,” Michalik said.

Earlier in the month, the Manitoba government unveiled its back-to-school plan, which included resuming in-person learning for Kindergarten to Grade 12 students, and recommending, but not requiring, students wear masks.

– With files from CTV’s Devon McKendrick.

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