School mask mandate coming to an end; MTS calls move ‘premature’

The mask mandate in Manitoba is set to come to an end on March 15 and that will include schools and child care facilities.

In an email to CTV News, the province confirmed schools and child care facilities will also be part of the mask mandate lifting, but said masks can still be worn based on individual risk and preference.

The province said facilities and school divisions can still order masks and that the supply of personal protective equipment will be assessed in the coming weeks.

“Work to monitor the situation is ongoing, and schools and child care facilities need to be prepared for future scenarios that may require additional preventive measures,” the province said.

In a post on the Manitoba Teachers’ Society’s (MTS) website on Friday, it says it “believes that masks should continue to be provided as they have been an important part of mitigating risk over the past two years.”

MTS said it is looking forward to the end of public health orders and restrictions but noted that loosening these restrictions should come with the “utmost caution.”

“Masks add a prudent and effective layer of protection against an unpredictable virus. Many Manitobans are immunocompromised and rely on all of us for protection,” MTS said.

“The medical community continues to advocate for masks as a measure that reduces risk. For this reason, the Society feels that lifting the mask mandate is premature.”

MTS said a safe learning environment is a top priority in schools and a cautious approach must be taken when returning to normal, adding masks need to be a part of that approach.

The province said it wants teachers, staff and students to continue to follow preventative measures such as staying home when sick, washing hands and get vaccinated when eligible.

“Our goal is for schools and child care facilities to create welcoming environments for all, whether they choose to wear masks or not. We need to be kind, compassionate and understanding to ourselves and to those around us,” the province said.

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