A Prince George teacher raised concerns about the current mandatory mask policy in SD57 schools at tonight’s (Tuesday) SD57 School Board Meeting.

Tabitha Krauskopf, grade 1/2 teacher at Edgewood Elementary School and parent to elementary-aged children says the mandatory mask policy could have a ‘detrimental’ impact on the school-aged population.

“There’s a real void in data when it comes to long-term health effects that masks have on our growing and developing children,” she explained.

Krauskopf says there has been research that suggests various medical issues in children have been linked to wearing masks for long periods of time, and more evidence should’ve been provided before implementing this rule in schools.

“In addition, I feel that our students with differing needs are being lost,” said Krauskopf, “imagine the challenges that our students with social communication issues like Autism have.”

Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing that rely on lip-reading to communicate and those with speech impediments are having an especially hard time with the policy, according to Krauskopf.

However, there are exceptions in place for students of SD57 that cannot tolerate masks.

“Exceptions for mask-wearing will be made for students who cannot tolerate masks for reasons such as health or behavioural issues,” explained Acting SD57 Superintendant, Cindy Heitman, “we do not require a health care provider note to confirm if a student can wear a mask. ”

The Mandatory Mask Policy wasn’t the only policy Krauskop raised concerns about.

“COVID is not the most detrimental thing to affect our youth, the implementation of these non-pharmaceutical interventions are, this includes masks, social distancing and lockdowns,” explained Krauskopf.

She says the increasing rates of depression and anxiety among youth in BC can be largely attributed to the guidelines keeping students from seeing their friends outside of school and the cancellation of extra-curricular activities

School Board Chair, Trent Derrick explained the Board follows the guidelines from Northern Health and their team of experts when implementing COVID-19 related policies.

Krauskopf referred to the average age of those having lost their battle to COVID-19 and stated, “this disease affects the elderly, yet our youth will be bearing the cost of these interventions for years to come.”