Masks required in all Regina public elementary schools for fall return

The Regina school division says the majority of its 25,000 students are not eligible for the vaccine and as such will be required to wear masks

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Cecilia Prokop is feeling anxious but optimistic after Regina Public School announced its plans for the fall semester.


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Prokop’s nine-year-old daughter Elizabeth will be heading into Grade 4 at Arcola Community School while four-year-old Evelyn is on the waitlist for pre-kindergarten.

Masks will be a part of their school life for the coming semester, which has its ups and downs.

“They’re not stoked about it, but they understand the necessity,” said Prokop.

“We’re very glad that they’re going to be mandatory because we decided in the last few weeks that we would make them wear them, even if they weren’t mandatory, so this makes it a lot easier,” said Prokop.

The idea though of going back into classrooms as COVID-19 cases rise is bittersweet considering where the province was last year at this time.

“It feels both better and worse,” she said. “Worse because the world wants to move on and pretend the pandemic is over — and it’s not. Better because I’m double vaccinated, their dad is double vaccinated, I know many of their teachers and adults in their lives are vaccinated.”

For her young daughters, she’s worried about their risk of exposure. Even if kids are lower risk, any risk is too high for Prokop when the long-term effects of the virus are not understood.

“Neither of my kids are eligible yet, so we’re putting a lot of faith in everyone else to do their part,” Prokop.

With the return to classrooms quickly approaching, Regina Public Schools and Regina Catholic School Division have announced that masks will be mandatory for everyone inside its elementary schools.


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In a statement released by the RPS on Monday, the school division outlined what the return to normal will look like. To start though, the school board is encouraging all eligible students and staff to get vaccinated.

“The school division is encouraging all who can and who are eligible to get vaccinated so that learning in Regina can get back on track without the interruptions seen last school year,” said the RPS’s release.

While a number of students and staff have been vaccinated, a majority of school-aged children are not able to get the vaccine.

“Unfortunately, the majority of our students, more than 15,000 children who will attend pre-kindergarten to grades 6 and 7 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated and are vulnerable to the risks that COVID-19 and its variants continue to pose,” Greg Enion, director of education, said in a statement.

Saskatchewan NDP MLA Carla Beck speaks with the media during a news conference held at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in Regina, Saskatchewan on August 23, 2021.
Saskatchewan NDP MLA Carla Beck speaks with the media during a news conference held at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in Regina, Saskatchewan on August 23, 2021. Photo by BRANDON HARDER /Regina Leader-Post

Students, staff and visitors in elementary schools are required to wear masks at all times in schools and on transportation. Public students and staff do not have to wear masks while outdoors on school grounds, provided they maintain physical distance.

Regina Catholic schools said in a statement that roughly 80 per cent of its elementary-aged students are not eligible for the vaccine, and as such masks will be mandatory. The Catholic Division will require masks on school transportation but not outdoors.

For Prokop she feels the government has, in her words, “passed the buck” onto school boards and trustees.


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“I’m happy to see the announcement but it’s really frustrating,” she said. “The school board is taking responsibility for things they shouldn’t have to.”

Speaking Monday during a news conference, NDP MLA Carla Beck, education critic, echoes that frustrations.

“There will be children who will be protected by a mask mandate because of a decision taken above and beyond what was directed by the Ministry of Health,” said Beck.

“Unfortunately, any backlash and the heavy lifting and responsibility for that mask mandate will fall on trustees.”

For high school students, the rules are not as stringent since more are eligible for vaccination. The school divisions strongly recommend mask use for all high school students and staff when physical distancing is not possible and again emphasizes vaccines as the way out of the pandemic.

Anyone visiting a Regina public high school will be required to wear masks at all times, whereas in Catholic high schools masks are strongly recommended.

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