Sooke is joining other school parent advisory councils across the province calling for a mask mandate for all schoolchildren.
The move comes days after the Vancouver and Surrey school districts voted in favour of mandatory masks for children in kindergarten to Grade 3 and a recent COVID outbreak at Ecole Poirier Elementary School in Sooke.
In an open letter to Health Minister Adrian Dix and Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside, Vancouver, Surrey, Sooke, New Westminster and Burnaby district parent advisory councils (DPACs) called for a mask mandate for all schoolchildren, with accommodations for those who cannot wear them.
The parents also called for a limit on gatherings for young students, enhanced contact tracing, rapid testing for younger students and a vaccine mandate for teachers and school staff.
In addition, the parents asked the province to remove exemptions that allowed for a mask to be removed if a plexiglass barrier is used, proof of vaccination for parents and caretakers entering the school for non-essential reasons, increased ventilation, remote learning options and for exposure notifications to take no more than five days.
“The majority of us on the SPEAC executive agreed it would be beneficial to sign on to the letter as it is calling for health and safety measures that the majority of us would like to see in schools while we continue to experience this current wave of COVID,” said Melissa Da Silva, president of the Sooke Parents’ Education Advisory Council.
The province mandates students in grades 4 to 12 and school staff must wear masks, while children in kindergarten to Grade 4 are encouraged to wear masks.
Ravi Parmar, chair of the Sooke board of education, said the Sooke School District relies solely on the advice of public health officials.
“We continue to provide our full support to the public health officer and ask health officials to give us guidance, and whatever their guidance is, we’ll follow,” he said.