The Province of Manitoba says that mask use will no longer be required in schools and other childcare facilities once public mask mandates end later this month.
In an email sent out on Friday to educators and early childhood workers, the province says that the changes will go into effect on March 15, along with the other changes to public health orders.
The province says that the move comes in order to reflect public health orders. However, school divisions, schools, and facilities can choose to require mask use, and individuals can choose to wear masks still.
The Manitoba Teachers' Society, the union representing over 16,000 educators in the province, says that it is urging caution in wake of the news.
In a press release sent out Friday afternoon, the MTS says it feels the move is too soon. "Masks add a prudent and effective layer of protection against an unpredictable virus. Many Manitobans are immunocompromised and rely on all of us for protection."
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MTS says that over the past two years of the pandemic educators have been professional and cautious in the face of adversity. While teachers look forward to an end of pandemic restrictions, it is urging caution.
"While we’ve looked forward to the end of public health orders and pandemic restrictions, it is essential that 'return to normal' proceed with the utmost caution, guided by science. The medical community continues to advocate for masks as a measure that reduces risk. For this reason, the Society feels that lifting the mask mandate is premature."
The union says that it's concerned about removing restrictions only to reimplement them, and the stress that causes on staff and students.