The President of the Prince George District Teachers Association is baffled schools are not included in the mandatory mask regulations issued by the province.

On Thursday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced residents will now be required to wear masks in all indoor public and retail spaces.

Hapke isn’t sure why the province is holding back on this measure for schools.

“When the rest of the community is getting this minimum layer of protection then schools should also be receiving the same layer of protection. We have looked to other provincial jurisdictions and they are able to implement masks in schools and we are wondering why BC is not.”

“We are all hearing the data that the transmission rate is low in schools and that it is up to the community to keep schools safe. We recognize and appreciate that but we still are asking for a minimum level of protection within schools.”

When asked why schools were not included in the order, Henry said schools are not considered public spaces.

“You cannot just walk into a school, we have layers of measures and protections in place and like I wouldn’t wear a mask sitting at my office, we don’t expect children to wear masks sitting at their desks all day long.”

However, there are situations where mask use is required at these facilities.

“We do have expectations in schools around those common areas where children and adults in the school setting are mingling and those are part of the safety plans in place at all of the schools,” added Henry.

In July, Henry stated children under the age of 10 are unlikely to contract or spread the virus and for the most part, children are getting COVID-19 from adults.

Hapke fired back and stated it’s not fair to put all the onus on teachers to protect themselves and their students.

“It is kind of insulting to say that it is the adults and the educators that are bringing the virus in the schools and that she’s asking teachers to really watch what they do socially, it’s really separating us as a group of people.”

“Masks are mandated in schools to a certain limit. If you are not part of a cohort and you enter a classroom you have to be wearing a mask, if you are in a crowded hallway you have to be wearing a mask and I am hopeful that the parents of the community send their children with masks and say please wear this.”

Currently there, are two Prince George schools within Northern Health listed for a potential COVID-19 exposure event.

They are Ron Brent and Van Bien Elementary Schools.