Policy GBGBB-JLIH - Safe Work & Learning Environment: Mandatory Mask Usage was adopted by the Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) Board of Trustees at the Sept. 7 regular board meeting. This policy outlines that masks are mandatory for all staff, students (K-12), and visitors in LRSD schools and facilities, including school buses, for the 2021-2022 school year. The policy details the steps to request a mask exemption or accommodation.
Staff and students will be provided with medical-grade masks with an ASTM Level 3 rating throughout the school day. If students are wearing masks from home, they should meet the same ASTM standard. LRSD currently has a stock of more than 340,000 masks and will continue to procure more from the province as needed. All schools have mask recycling receptacles in the building to ensure that masks are not ending up in the trash.
This September, we are returning to school in the midst of a fourth wave. The importance of doing our best to support wearing masks indoors at all times and leveraging the outdoors for mask breaks, specifically, and learning, in general, will be emphasized with all staff. While both the policy and Manitoba Education speak to the possibility of scheduled mask breaks occurring indoors when students are 2 metres apart, I have strongly encouraged school staff to consider structuring mask breaks alongside periods of outdoor movement, learning and teaching to limit the amount of unmasked time indoors. If a mask break must occur indoors, school staff have been reminded to ensure windows are open and airflow is not restricted while keeping students 2 metres apart. These same principles will be followed during lunch periods, if indoors. Staff and families can look forward to more helpful information in a form of an FAQ specific to mask usage.
With respect to ventilation and air quality in schools, I will have more to share in a future email and spotlight story on the LRSD website.
We must all recognize that we cannot create the perfect world; however, with a student population of differing needs and abilities, ranging from 4 to 21 years of age, we are trying our best to implement reasonable measures to mitigate risk to create a safe and engaging learning environment.
I acknowledge that there are differing opinions within the LRSD community in opposition and in support of the mask mandate and other risk mitigation strategies. This policy is meant to help us navigate those differences and remain consistent in our approach.
Christian Michalik, Superintendent