The chair of the Grande Prairie and District Catholic Schools Board says it’s a great first step after Minister of Education Adrianna LaGrange mandated masks for grade 4-12 students and all members of staff.

Board Chair Michael Ouellette says when the government made its first announcement a couple of weeks ago, he was hoping for more stringent safety measures. He adds the ministry did their homework and is pleased to see the new direction.

“They always said they’d listen to Dr. Hinshaw, and this is what they are doing…they’ve done the studies, and they’ve figured out that this is the next step…I think it’s another step in the right direction.”

“The health of the children and our staff is so important, so that really alleviates some of the issues I was having and some of the board members were having as well.”

Ouellette adds the ministry of education will be covering the costs of the masks for the schools, and that alleviates several financial concerns he had. He hopes the willingness of the government to change up their decision-making process doesn’t stop with masks, and they will be as quick in the future if the plan needs to be amended further.

“I think it’s a great first step that they’ve looked at it, changed their direction, and I think if they see other things they’ll move in that way as well, as they should always be looking to keep the children and staff safe.”

For students and staff, the masks will be mandatory while in common areas like hallways, on school buses, or shared spaces where social distancing is not possible.