Students of Yellowknife Catholic Schools will no longer have to wear masks anywhere in school as of this coming Monday.

The Board of Trustees passed a motion to remove all masking requirements in schools as of April11. Students will still be required to wear masks on school buses for the time being.

“We felt that it was time to let parents make those decisions for their children,” said Tina Schauerte, the president of the board of trustees.

Although the GNWT lifted the territory-wide public health emergency, and with it indoor mask mandates, on April 1, the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) has allowed school boards to make their own decisions about mask mandates.

“We do believe that many of [the chief public health officer’s] recommendations are good ones, we just believed it was time for students and staff to make that choice,” said Schauerte.

Aside from a handful of concerned parents, Schauerte said there hasn’t been a strong reaction from parents. She said the reaction from teachers has been similarly muted.

As for the retaining of mask mandates on buses, Schauerte said the board has no say in the matter: “The company themselves, that is their decision.”

The YK1 school board lifted its requirement to wear masks in classrooms, but kept mandates in place for common areas outside of classrooms.

In a letter to parents on April 1, the Board explained it was still recommending students wear masks in public areas, but that “staff will support students in their personal choices, to ensure all students feel comfortable to mask or not.”

The board has not given up monitoring the pandemic situation, however: The letter also said the board would continue to monitor the Covid situation in Yellowknife as reported on the GNWT’s Covid-19 dashboard, including for the presence of community transmission. The state of Covid in Yellowknife will determine the health measures surrounding events like extra-cirricular activities, classroom visits and large gatherings. As of Friday, April 8, Yellowknife, Dettah and Ndilo were collectively considered a “red zone.”

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