Hello, Gaglardi community:

A question came up at the PAC meeting on Tuesday regarding the requirements for wearing masks on school property. I had said to the PAC group that we had published a mask bulletin in the Nov/Dec. Still, when I asked Mary Johnson, our Communications Director, she went back through her files and said we have only published requirements for wearing masks nested within other communications and never as a separate and distinct communication apart from our School Safety Protocols published on our website. My apologies for not making this important health protocol crystal clear.

MASKS are required on school property at all times by parents and non-staff adults (yes, even outside on the playground if you're on the property). This protocol has been in place since May 12, 2020. If a parent picks up their children and remains in their car, then a mask is not required unless you exit your car. All non-staff adults, even with a mask on, must maintain a physical distance of 2 meters from each other if you are outside your safe bubble. The PHO has now (Dec 7) defined your safe bubble as your immediate household. It is the "safe bubble" definition that has changed over time and will continue to change based on BC COVID data and PHO orders.

Regarding staff and students (grades 6-12), all must wear masks (not shields) in common areas, including hallways, washrooms, chapel, and outside of their Cohort bubble. Every staff member and the students have a defined Cohort placement. Within a Cohort bubble, a physical distance of 12 inches must be maintained, or a mask needs to be worn. If a student is in grades K-5, within a Cohort or in common areas, the physical distance of 12 inches must be maintained, or students need to wear their masks. These are the stated rules for inside a school "building." Outside of the building, Ministry health protocols are murky for staff and older students, and the protocols have not been updated since late August 2020, when our COVID transmission data was low.

The Ministry has promised an update very soon, and this update will likely be more clear for older students regarding wearing masks outside the school building. However, our protocol, up until now, has been that if older students are within their Cohort bubble (dismissal times are staggered and students have separate exit/entry doors), then masks are not required.

Should you require or one of your children require a mask exemption due to health concerns, please send me a private note, and the school will accommodate your needs.

Likely, more will follow in a few weeks, but for now, thank you for your patience and understanding. Please be gracious to one another.

Be safe out there, and a blessing to you all,
Bernadette Pitcher.