Get vaccinated, and keep your kids home when they’re sick.
Those are the two most important things parents can do to help stem the spread of COVID-19 in schools, according to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Henry addressed the issue at a briefing this morning (Oct. 1). Henry appeared with Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside to announce the extension of the mask mandate to include kindergarten to Grade 3 students. Up until now, masks have only been required for grades 4 to 12 students and “encouraged” for younger children.
Henry acknowledged that parent concerns over school safety have grown in light of the Delta variant and increasing case numbers among children.
“We are thankful that COVID remains mostly a mild disease in children, but we do not want any child to be ill, and we are taking measures to prevent as much illness as we can,” she said.
Henry said masks and other measures help prevent not just COVID but a variety of cold and flu viruses.
“It remains critically important that we do those daily health checks and keep children out of the school environment if they are unwell,” she said.
“I ask workplaces to continue to be flexible to support parents so that they can get through these next few months as we navigate this phase of our pandemic.”
Henry and Whiteside also continued to stress the importance of adults and older children being vaccinated.
“We know the best protection for kids in our schools, especially for those who are too young to receive a vaccine, is for everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated,” Whiteside said.
Henry agreed that vaccination is “the best thing we can do” to keep communities safe.
“That protects the young kids; it protects the schools and keeps them open,” she said, calling it an “act of altruism” to get vaccinated. “This is about all of us working together, and schools are an important reflection of how we’re doing as a community working together.”