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Grande Prairie Public Schools preparing for mask mandate removal

The superintendent of the Grande Prairie Public School Division says while the decision to lift the K-12 mask mandate took many by surprise, he believes the decision is something staff and students can and will make work.

Sandy McDonald says while he understands there is concern from some parents that the mandate lifting could create an unsafe environment, the mask mandate isn’t the only mitigating factor in play when it comes to slowing the spread of COVID-19. He says the safest places are the ones that use a variety of different strategies.

McDonald adds that while students won’t be mandated to wear masks, he says the choice remains open for those who choose to.

“In Alberta, vaccines have been promoted as an effective strategy, as have the use of masks, physically distancing, hand sanitizing, enhanced cleaning, and we continue to use as many of those as we can,” he says.

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“Those who believe masks play an effective role in helping to mitigate transmission, we fully support that… adults in our buildings must continue to wear masks for the next month until step two is announced by the province,” he adds.

McDonald says while he appreciates differing opinions exist on the matter, in the end, he firmly believes everybody needs to feel like they belong in school.

“People who don’t support the use of masks, don’t have to now, but, others can, [so] we need to work together and keep our relationships positive, so we support everybody,” he says.

“If we continue to talk about those things we have control over and relegate those things we don’t have control over to the outside, it provides us the opportunity to make the best use of our time and resources.”

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