March 31, 2021
Dear First Nations Schools,
On March 30, 2021, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) released an addendum to their public health guidance for K-12 schools recommending changes to the use of non-medical masks and face coverings. The First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) and First Nations Schools Association (FNSA) are providing this information to inform First Nations of the latest public health advice to facilitate and support planning at the local level.
According to the updated BCCDDC guidance, all staff, adult volunteers and visitors, and all Grade 4 to 12 students should wear a mask while indoors at school. The updated guidance includes a number of exceptions as well as further clarification regarding the use of masks on busses as well as for Kindergarten to Grade 3 students. First Nations are advised to refer directly to the BCCDC Addendum to Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools when planning for in-class instruction.
This additional guidance is in place until April 19, 2021, at which point it will be reviewed.
The Ministry of Education has also updated its guidelines for K-12 public and non-First Nations independent schools to require the use of masks consistent with the BCCDC recommendations. This change impacts Ministry guidelines including those for staff only spaces, student transportation on busses, school gatherings, physical education/sports, music programs, and working with students with disabilities/diverse abilities. First Nations may want to consider this updated guidance while planning for and providing in-class instruction.
FNESC and FNSA fully respect the authority of individual First Nations to make decisions about school operations in the best interests of their students, schools, and communities, and we further recognize that a number of schools will opt to remain fully or partially closed. First Nations are under no obligation to reopen their schools.
We wish everyone good health. You can find all of our updates and resources related to COVID-19 at www.fnesc.ca/covid19.