Updated Mask Guidelines for K-12 Schools

Dear VWS Community,

On March 30, the Ministry of Education issued updated health and safety guidelines for all K-12 schools in the province (Provincial COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings). One of the key updates included a change to requirements concerning mask-wearing in schools.

All staff, volunteers, visitors, and students in Grades 4 to 12 are now required to wear a face mask while indoors at school and on the school bus (effective Tuesday, April 6). Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 are encouraged to wear a mask indoors at school and on the school bus but are not required to do so.

This requirement does not apply:

  • to a person who is unable to wear a mask because they do not tolerate it for health or behavioural reasons;
  • to a person unable to put on or remove a mask without the assistance of another person;
  • if the mask is removed temporarily for the purposes of identifying the person wearing it;
  • if the mask is removed temporarily to engage in an educational activity that cannot be performed while wearing a mask (e.g. actively playing a wind instrument, high-intensity physical activity, etc.);
  • if a person is eating or drinking;
  • if a person is behind a barrier;
  • while providing a service to a person with a disability or diverse ability (including but not limited to hearing impairment), where visual cues, facial expressions and/or lip reading/movements are important;
  • to a bus driver while driving.

Faculty and staff will be supporting student mask-wearing through positive and inclusive approaches. In addition, faculty will work with students to foster proper mask usage, including how to wear, taking off and storing masks. Students received two reusable masks at the start of the school year. It is the responsibility of each family to ensure masks are clean and are brought to school. We will have a supply of  single-use masks available for students and staff who forget to bring their masks.

Students and staff will be able to remove their masks while outside, including at recess, lunchtime and while learning outside. As the weather improves, teachers will continue to look for opportunities to move their classes outdoors. Any student not wearing a mask will neither be treated in a punitive or stigmatizing way nor will they be prevented from attending or fully participating at school.

If you have a child in Grade 4 to 12 who requires a mask exemption, please email the following to your child’s Class Teacher/Advisor with the Management Team (mt@vws.ca) copied.

My child, (first and last name), in Grade (child’s grade) requires a mask exemption.

Schools across British Columbia continue to implement all layers of protection as advised by health officials to limit the spread of COVID-19. While mask use is an important layer of protection, it does not replace other measures like staying home when sick or required to self-isolate, completing the daily health check, maximizing physical distancing and proper hand hygiene. Our updated Health & Safety Handbook – COVID-19 will be published on our website by Monday, April 12.

The health and safety of our students, staff, and families continue to be the top priority at the Vancouver Waldorf School. We greatly appreciate your ongoing support and patience as we work through this together.

Please feel welcome to contact me if you require further information at principal@vws.ca.

Warmly,

Lorna Fortin
Principal