REGINA — After numerous calls from the public earlier this week, the Saskatchewan Health Authority and provincial government have issued some information regarding masking and vaccination in schools this fall.
In a press release issued on Friday, the SHA is now recommending that unvaccinated students, teachers and support staff wear masks in common areas while in school.
This includes hallways, washrooms, lunch rooms, libraries and school buses, but not classrooms or during outdoor activities, like recess.
The updated information is noted to be a recommendation from public health, not a mandatory policy. Direction on masking was not previously included in the province's Safe Schools plan, released earlier this summer.
Currently, there is no vaccine approved for children under the age of 12, and public health is encouraging but not requiring all eligible staff and students to seek vaccination.
The SHA said that once a vaccine is approved and widely available to children under 12, masking recommendations will be “revisited to factor in an increased immunity within the student population.”
More school-based vaccination clinics will be made available this fall, said the release, similar to the program offered in June.
The SHA has also announced that in an effort to increase vaccine uptake, any child born in the year 2009 is now immediately eligible for vaccination at any SHA clinic, regardless of their birth date — a change called for by Opposition critic Carla Beck on Wednesday.
The Saskatchewan NDP, Saskatchewan Teachers Federation and the Saskatchewan Medical Association all issued public calls to the government earlier this week, seeking a mandatory vaccination policy for all eligible individuals in schools this fall.