At Mary Gardner Elementary School in Châteauguay, the majority of students from kindergarten to grade 6 wear masks as they move about the school and during recess, despite the fact that the government does not require mask-wearing of the very young. Not all parents are pleased with the recommendation.
According to government guidelines, mask wearing at the elementary school level is mandatory for grade 5 and 6 students when they are outside of the classroom and in common areas. “Face coverings are not mandatory for students from grades 1 to 4, including when they use school transportation. It is, however, recommended that they wear one”, can be read on the government website. The Châteauguay elementary school’s administration decided to recommend that all students from kindergarten to grade 4 also wear masks as they move about the school, go to the washroom and attend recess.
Encouraged but not mandatory
The mother of a kindergarten student is disappointed that mask wearing is requested of those at such a young age, especially outdoors as masks are not generally required when outside. “We think he might have asthma, but tests are only done when they are older, so putting a mask on my son during a thirty-minute recess when he is running and jumping around makes me nervous”, said the parent who did not wish to be named. “It is a recommendation, and no students will be spoken to at any point or reminded in these grade levels (kindergarten to grade 4) about wearing or not wearing a mask. It is a recommendation and parents will make the decision for their children”, stated school principal Lynn Harkness in a letter sent out to parents.
In an exchange between the kindergarten teacher and the mother for which Le Soleil obtained a copy, the teacher suggested trying to get the child to wear the face covering “with a lot of encouragement” during recess. The teacher did emphasize, however, that the final decision was up to the parents. The mother affirmed that after having advised the school of her concerns regarding mask-wearing, she was told that her child would only spend recess with other children who did not wear face coverings. This information was contradicted by the New Frontiers School Board. “Classes have recess in their class ‘bubbles’. Each class has a specific area where the children play together, mask or no mask,” indicated Luisa Benvenuti from the New Frontiers School Board. According to the school principal, the majority of students sport face coverings.
(Translation Amanda Bennett)