A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)

B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

A B.C. mother is frustrated that elementary school students haven’t been mandated — or at least strongly encouraged — to wear masks to school during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ashley, who asked that her last name not be used, is taking two weeks off from her job in the health care system because her son is required to self-isolate after an exposure at his Cowichan Valley school last week. Being away from work isn’t her main worry, but she feels bad missing time during a health emergency

“There is a big need for health care workers at this time,” she pointed out. “And now I’m having to lose time from my job.”

She sends her own son to school wearing a mask, and wishes that more parents would do the same if the provincial government won’t make it mandatory. She said she has talked to parents at other schools who feel the same way.

RELATED: Stress leave, tears and insomnia: Island teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

RELATED: B.C. expands mandatory mask rules in schools, rolls out ‘rapid response teams’

“Prevention is what we’re taught in healthcare,” Ashley pointed out. “Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

Fraser Health has seen the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the province.

Middle and secondary school students are currently required by the provincial government to wear masks when not at their desks, but that does not apply in elementary schools.

“We do encourage a culture of mask wearing in all our schools and support families in any decision they wish to make around mask wearing,” explained Mike Russell, spokesperson for the Cowichan Valley School District. “Masks are one added layer of protection that supplement other proven measures like hand washing and physical distancing.”

Russell added that neither the school district nor individual schools can add to or override the provincial guidelines. Children under the age of 12 are not provincially mandated to wear masks.

Ashley, who has been urging people to contact the offices of Minister of Health Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry about mandating masks for younger students, feels kids are getting mixed messages about mask-wearing.

“When a child goes to the store, they have to wear a mask, but when they’re going to school they don’t have to wear one?” she questioned. “I understand they are following a protocol, but we all know what the right thing is to do.”

There is a lack of understanding, Ashley said, about why people are asked to wear masks, and some people have been led to believe that children can’t get sick from COVID-19, which is not true.

“People don’t understand they can also be carriers,” she added.

She is also concerned that people on Vancouver Island have been complacent because the region has been spared from the numbers experienced in the Lower Mainland and other parts of the province, and because there haven’t been as many exposures in elementary schools.

“I hope people will take this seriously and change their ways,” she said. “Prevention is key. People should be doing everything possible to minimize this. I get that kids need to go to school, but we also need to keep the exposures down.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Coronaviruscowichan valley

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A donated towel warms a merlin chick. Photo supplied
MARS Moment: 2021 shaping up to be a record-setting year for animal rescues

Submitted by Jane Sproull Thomson Special to Black Press With the pandemic,… Continue reading

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
19 Wing Comox crew involved in three-tonne cocaine seizure worth more than $293 million

12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron involved in Op Caribbe

File photo of Gord Johns during World Oceans Day.
Courtenay-Alberni MP outlines priorities for federal budget

Universal pharmacare, affordable housing and Pacific wild salmon are some of the… Continue reading

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations in Gold River area

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

Volunteers sort through bottles and cans during Saturday's fundraiser for hospice. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Valley hospice holds drive-through bottle drive

Bike team is fundraising for the annual Cycle of Life tour on Vancouver Island

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

NIC’s new president Lisa Domae assumed the role April 12. Domae has worked at NIC since 2000, most recently as executive vp academic and chief operating officer. Photo supplied
New North Island College president launches draft strategic plan

North Island College’s new president, Lisa Domae, kicked off her first official… Continue reading

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photos courtesy Ella Smiley)
Chainsaw and friends near the beach thrill orca watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Nootka Sound RCMP and DFO Conservation and Protection Officers seized this 30 foot vessel, fishing gear and equipment as well as Chinook salmon, salmon roe, rock fish and ling cod after an investigation on Sept. 11. A judge in Campbell River on February hit the owner and his accomplices with significant fines, a ban on holding fishing licences and loss of equpment, including the boat’s motor and trolling motor. RCMP photo
Washington State trio’s fisheries violations the worst veteran officer has seen in 20 years

Judge bans three men from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

Most Read