Masks would make schools safer as social distancing a 'real concern,' Sask. docs say
SASKATOON -- Saskatchewan's doctors think the province should set higher coronavirus safety standards in its Safe Schools Plan.
“Saskatchewan doctors think it’s prudent to set the safety bar higher at the outset, then lower it when we know what we are dealing with. We simply don’t know how the virus will behave in a school setting. Then, as more information comes available, we can carefully roll back the restraints,” Saskatchewan Medical Association president Dr. Barbara Konstantynowicz said in a news release.
While the SMA did not explicitly call for mandatory masks, it did say that doctors believe the province's plan should be more directive in mask use.
The plan does not immediately impose mandatory masks or create smaller class sizes for when kids return to school. However, the province has ordered six million masks should they be required and would consider mandating masks in schools if the situation worsens.
Masks are a simple and effective defense against COVID-19 spread, especially when used with hand washing and social distancing techniques, the SMA says.
"While masks on their own will not completely prevent the spread of the virus, we believe their use is a very good way to make schools safer places for children, youth, teachers and support staff,” Konstantynowicz said.
- 'We’re sending kids back as an experiment:' Parents urge Sask. government to revise COVID-19 back-to-school plan
The SMA says it met Thursday with Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab and senior officials from the Ministries of Health and Education. They discussed how the government’s plan could better address physicians’ concerns regarding masks and social distancing principles.
The SMA says it was advised there would be more discussions on how to keep people apart in schools.
“Given the large numbers of students and teachers working in confined spaces, social distancing remains a real concern,” Konstantynowicz said.
“Closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded spaces with many people, and close-contact settings with close-range conversations are not uncommon in schools and these realities need to be front and center in back to school plans.”