Parent protest calls for additional health measures in Calgary schools

Dozens of protestors marched to the Calgary Board of Education headquarters Friday afternoon, calling for changes to health guidelines in local schools before classes resume this fall.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, announced Friday morning that masking will not be required provincially in school settings.

However, she said school officials will have the authority to put in local measures like physical distancing, cohorting and mandatory masking should they decide to do so.

But some parents attending Friday’s protest called for those additional measures to be implemented immediately.

“I would like to see a mask mandate for all schools, at least until children under 12 can be vaccinated,” said mother Heather Ganshorn. 

“And I would like to see continued rapid testing in schools, and monitoring of cases and outbreaks so that we know what kind of numbers we’re dealing with.”

Heather Ganshorn says she would like to see the Calgary Board of Education implement a mask mandate for all schools when classes resume this fall. (Dennis Genereux/CBC)

Neither of Calgary’s public school boards have yet released concrete COVID-19 plans for fall. 

Calgary Catholic superintendent Bryan Szumlas said students should expect similar measures to last year.

“I think the most controversial one right now is mask use,” Szumlas said. “We have division in our public views on this one.… lot of parents, they want masks to be worn, and a lot of parents don’t want masks to be worn.

“So we’re probably going to be siding on the side of safety. We know that masks are a preventative way to reduce the spread of COVID.”

The Calgary Board of Education said Thursday that schools starting classes next week would do so with mandatory masking and various other health measures in place — but there’s no indication as yet whether those same measures will remain this fall.

The board said Friday’s announcement allows it to finalize a set of health measures specific to the individual circumstances of the CBE, adding there is enough time for a plan to be in place for the beginning of September.

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