FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – School District 60 middle and secondary schools began donning masks this week while elementary staff took the time to educate students in Grade 4 to 6.

Recent changes to public health guidelines have Grade 4 to 6 students wearing masks at all times indoors for the first time. Superintendent Stephen Petrucci says staff took the time this week to ensure families were ready for the change, with full implementation set for Monday.

“We took some time to do some educational lessons around the proper use of the mask and allowing them to get used to the routines in the classroom. [The gradual implementation] gives families a chance to get masks for their kids and, of course, we always have some extras on hand to provide for them as well,” says Petrucci.

Overall, Petrucci adds the transition has been fairly smooth, with most students coming to school with their masks on.

In case parents want to have their child exempt from wearing a mask, all they have to do is notify the student’s school.

“In an email is fine. But in some formal way to let the administration know, and that has been occurring this week.”

The guidelines say exceptions will be made for anyone unable to wear a face covering for health or behavioural reasons, for those who cannot put on or remove a mask on their own, or while students are eating or drinking or if they’re behind a barrier.

Schools won’t require a health care provider note to confirm if staff, students or visitors cannot wear a mask. No student should be prevented from attending or fully participating at school if they do not wear a mask.

The district is confident a “more regular start-up” will occur in September as the vaccination rollout is underway.